I fell out of blog world for a second. A combination of personal turmoil, relocating to Pittsburgh for a month, and buckling down on my novel has left less room for reaching out to my fellow writers via the internet.
In Pittsburgh, I am doing a writer residency at a punk house. Isn’t that interesting? I think more people that own houses and have a little extra space should do DIY writer residencies. Here, they give you a room to live in for free for a month, and you produce something by the end of your stay. The room has a bed, a desk, clean sheets/blanket, and there is a grocery store just a few steps away. They also have a letterpress studio and the equipment to do perfect binding at the house, so they are always making beautiful DIY books and zines. I’ve only been here for a few days, but already I’ve been immensely productive, averaging about 3,000-3,500 words a day on my novel alone. My head feels clear. And one of my best friends from college lives here, which means I have enough socializing opportunities to feel engaged, satisfied and happy, but not enough to be terribly distracted. Virginia Woolf’s thing about having a room of one’s own is starting to seem true. But I still wonder, are such conditions ideal on a more permanent basis?
Here in Pittsburgh, I am thinking about the conditions under which people are able to write. When are you most productive? I am considering the following factors: free time, personal space, emotional stability, routine, environmental, etc. In Baltimore and Florida, I shared a room with my partner. Right now we are both dedicated artists that don’t have “real” jobs and just work on our projects all day. This is completely different from my life several months ago, when I worked 2 jobs while I was going to school full-time and working on my thesis. While my partner and I are living together, every day we continually have to negotiate how to spend our time, where to work, when and what to eat (who should cook), space (she works best listening to loud music, I can’t focus when loud music is playing), our emotional needs (I feel upset right now, will you put aside your work to talk to me?), sleeping schedules (I will often sneakily get up in the middle of the night to pound out several pages [if I have already taken my ambien, you get this]), etc etc. Rather than seeing this as “bad” for my work because I am quantitatively less productive, I see it as something that indirectly enriches my work because it forces me outside myself, makes me more expansive, forces me to learn how to balance self and other. Plus, we always have the opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other, and since we are hyper-engaged and thoughtful about things, we challenge and move each other in unforeseeable directions.
This balancing act brings me to the next issue I am trying to sort out in my mind. The question of living vs. writing.
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The live reading is over but you can play back my live reading of recent and upcoming new books I am excited about here:
Featuring excerpts from:
Death to the officers! O my latrine, hug me stronger. I give you my wife. Throw my babies into the fire, to the dunghill, trample them under the foot of the marriage bed heavy with your intermingled bodies. She caresses, she kisses your worried muscles. Tear with your teeth rotten by the black meat and the bromided wine, tear with your tanned cock the linen hanging in the toilets, the linen fragrant with the talc and the vomit of the new-born. Ransack my furniture. The room exhales, you erect naked and wearing wool up to the knees, a fragrance of snow and grease. Strangle, knock senseless in their bed my father and my mother. Slaughter on his exercise books my brother dozing at the table. The bites of the native whores reopen on the lower part of your belly under the hair. Dig with your dagger, ear cutter, the polished flooring and free the spring singing for my child in the foundations. Lie down in its water and the cuttings and the earth and the cement powder covering your jaw, fuck my wife to death and, standing up again, squash her head in the stream blocked by sperm. And feeling light, rifle hanging from the shoulder and the mosquito net tied around your loins, push the door and, once you reached the border, throw yourself into our arms laden with dying game. O ear cutter, hoist yourself up with us in the hollow between the branches warmed up by our turds. The smell of the married men’s blood is shrouding the city. To it we prefer the fragrance of the bugs gorged with our blood.