“My Writing Process” is an ongoing series in which authors “tag” each other to answer some questions about their work.
Christopher Allen and Robert Vaughan have asked me to participate:
They’re both great authors, you should check out their books (click on the names above …. Christopher Allen’s book is Conversations with S. Teri O’type, and Robert Vaughan’s is Addicts and Basements.
And now, the questions:
1) What am I working on?
My first full length collection of poetry, Everything Neon, just came out from Marginalia. It’s a batch of love letters mostly to my wife and to NYC. I’m also doing some rewrites on a novel called F-250, that is coming out this summer from Piscataway House, the same people who did my previous novel Tollbooth. F-250 is very loosely autobiographical, more or less written with a specific year and specific time and place in mind that I lived through. It’s slightly more grounded in reality than anything else I’ve done. I’m excited to see it put out, most of my writing is very cartoonish, this is not.
I’m also submitting around a novel called Teenager about a love affair between Kody and Teal that happens in the middle of a killing spree.
I also host an interview series called The Unknown show, which is live every Tuesday night at 7pm online.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I try write about characters who are grounded in reality, even if the world they live in is harshly unrealistic, cartoonish, overly surreal.
I don’t know if it’s different. At parties sometimes people ask, “What do you write?” and I say, “Coen Brothers movies with a little more poetry hidden in it.” That’s what I’m aiming for.
Mostly, I can say, I don’t shy away from crazy, but I try to write about regular-grade devotedly human characters who are very much alive in a world that may be wholly absurd, but they keep ticking along despite it. I write things that aim to be simultaneous funny/and not fucking around at all. Maybe, jokes that make you flinch, but the jokes aren’t really jokes …
3) Why do I write what I do?
I write what I do as a reaction to the absurdity of life. It’s hard to take anything seriously, and then as soon as you’re in that mode, a person can do whatever they want with it, ya know, without pretense.
I find life, even the thought of it, surreal beyond measure. Being alive is wild enough, now there’s the chance to create a world within a world and to populate it with characters who are up against a wall, trying to figure out what the hell is going on … that’s appealing to me because it helps me think about what this life is, what our society is, which way is up, which way is down.
4) How does my writing process work?
It changes. But mostly, my writing process is: an hour a day, however I can get that hour. Some days it’s more. But I’m a fan of “ticking away at it.” Generally my daily process goes like this for a week day: I write on my iPhone at my day job. I get a 15 minute coffee break at 9am and a half hour lunch at noon. At the end of the day, instead of fighting traffic, I sit at work for an extra twenty minutes or so and I write on the phone. This is how I do 90% of all my first drafts. In the evening, I try to sit down at my desk and do some editing on the day’s iPhone typing. Do I always stick to this formula? No. Not at all. But, that’s generally how I go about my daily work week writing output.