Charles Daly

Writer

Category: Blog the Block (page 2 of 14)

The Why…

Joe Rogan,  absolutely kills it at sharing something every day. His podcast is one of the most popular on iTunes, and at over a thousand episodes is among the most prolific. Part of what makes his output possible is that his show is largely unedited, taking the form of free-flowing conversations that can go on for two to four hours.

 

The Joe Rogan Experience doesn’t have the production value, the narrative structure, or the cool synth interludes of a Serial or This American Life, but it isn’t encumbered by the editorial or production constraints that force those shows to work on seasons like television programs. Rogan has true creative control over his platform and the result is a space where compelling and controversial figures can talk about whatever the hell they want.

 

In my own blog-smithing, I’ve taken a lesson here, because, for the longest, time I was held back by the urge to be a certain way or write a certain kind of post–all authoritative, pseudo journalistic, and, in my worst moments, life-coachy–rather than let this outlet develop organically into whatever it’s going to be.

 

So, today, I set out to write a post about the big “why?” behind all this putting oneself out there stuff. I wanted to reiterate the cliché but very true advice that life’s to short not to make stuff and share it with the world–if that’s what you want to do with your short time here. It should come as no surprise that there’s no shortage of voices online saying just that.

 

I thought about doing a listicle of lesser-known sources advising you to follow your passion–or, in Ryan Holiday’s case, follow your purpose. Instead, I settled on a single clip from episode #972 of the Joe Rogan Experience that makes the simple case for why you might want to stop “wasting your life in the 9 to 5 rat race” and how to do it.

 

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(By the way, if you’re keeping score re: Joe’s output, #972 was released on June 7th, 2017, and he’s now on episode #1037. That’s one episode ever 2.3 days. Imagine how productive he’d be without all those edibles…)

 

“People with Real jobs are so mad at us right now…”

Be a Minimalist

Another loaded milenial word… But Rogan is talking about priorities. Sort out what’s important to you and make it a priority, because you don’t have much time. Quit trading your living hours for “stuff.”

 

Make Enough Money

Nobody’s advocating starving. It’s about knowing what enough means to you and not busting your ass to earn more than that when you could be spending that time having an experience or working on something meaningful.

 

Rogan’s guest, Ari Shaffir suggests working on a tugboat in Seattle for a few months to save up for an adventure.

 

Take a Gap Year

In Europe, they have the same expectation that college is the next step after high school, but they also have a culture of taking time off. Parents don’t freak out when their kids want to go see Thailand before the show up to University.

 

A too-easy and totally untrue criticism of world travel is that it’s a luxury. Bullshit. You can join the peace corps, you can get a job overseas. My first job out of college was teaching English in Korea. Half the Americans I met there were sending money home to pay off student loans. When I left, I was freaking out, wondering how I could afford to live in the States. It was cheaper to keep traveling, so I moved to Spain.

 

You don’t have to be a child of privilege to travel or quit your job to follow your bliss, but you do have to reevaluate your priorities.

 

Get out of the Nine-to-Five Mindset

Rogan and Shaffir unpack the absurdity of sick days, vacation days, and the 40 hour workweek. Nothing original here, but it’s funny to hear Rogan make the case in his old-timey boss’ accent:

“Nine-to-five, nine-to-five, nine-to-five, morning, Bob; morning, Sam;  nine-to-five…could you imagine?”

 

The clip ends with a transition to a new rant about the tactical virtues of whipping your dick out in a fist fight.

 

 

 

 

Friday Roundup, be here now

“You can’t ask for flowers– know what I mean– you either get’m or you don’t.” 

–Liam Gallagher 

Fall is (finally) here. This is what I’ve been up to for the first week in November:

 

What I’m reading: 

The Killer Inside Me — Jim Thompson: A classic of neo-noir and American Crime with a forward by Stephen King. Thompson’s masterpiece (if you want to call it that) tells of a amiable small town Texas deputy with a homicidal streak. The influence of this disturbing little book is all over American Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, and No Country for Old Men. 

 

Show Your Work! — Austin Kleon: The book that ended my blogging dry-spell. Thank you, Austin!

 

What I’m listening to:

The story of Vice’s humble origins in Montréal on How I Built This.

 

A Killing on the Cape, ABC’s podcast series on the Christa Worthington murder.

 

Liam Gallagher’s solo album. It’s very good… Sounds more Oasis than his brother’s solo work.

 

Also,  Liam’s  Weekly Music Corner for Vice is on point.

Liam Gallagher’s Weekly Music Corner Ep. 1 (HBO)

Our new music critic, Liam Gallagher reviews new music in his debut installment of Music Critic. Today’s songs include: “Cellophane” by Metz, “Fuck Ugly God” by Ugly God, “Lady Powers” by Vera Blue and “Medication” by Damien Marley.

 

What I’m Doing:

Exploring Montréal, including the city’s celebration of Leonard Cohen, which I wrote up.

 

Showing my work

 

Working on a novel, but I can’t talk about it yet.


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5 Documentaries on Showing your Work

For inspiration on how to show your work , or to just get fired-up about the creative process in general, check out these five documentaries that take a look at the journey, the sweat, and the drama behind the finished product.

 

Oasis: Supersonic 

 

Supersonic chronicles the hard work and brilliant musicianship that would catapult Oasis to superstardom and the clash of egos and sibling rivalry that would be their undoing.

 

Depending on how you look at it, this is either a cautionary tale or a study in what you can get away with if your work is absolutely fucking brilliant.

 

For more studio craft and less tabloid buffoonery, check out the hour long Oasis: Definitely Maybe, a generic but interesting rock doc on the making of their debut album.

 

The Making of South Park: 6 Days to Air 

If there ever was a treatise on the power of deadlines to unleash creative productivity, this is it. Each episode of South Park is written, recorded, and animated in just 6 days. Far from a sweatshop, the South Park Studio is full of laughter, and the sort of goofing off that’s vital to creativity no matter how tight a deadline you’re on.

 

South Park’s co-creator, Trey Parker, relates the self-imposed crunch his team finds themselves in every week, “There’s a show on this Wednesday, and we don’t even know what it is.” They put out episodes not in spite of this ambiguity, but because of it. You get the impression that it would be a very different–and probably less special–show if they gave themselves more time. The void is part of the process. Something to keep in mind if you’ve committed to share something every day.

 

This one will make you feel lazy and, hopefully light a fire under your ass.

 

Funky Monks

 

Available in full on YouTube (below,) Funky Monks is a black-and-white fly-on-the-wall view of the making of the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik: the one with “Under the Bridge” and “Give it Away” on it, the one that would make the Chili Peppers a band your grandma has heard of.

 

The band was living in their producer, Rick Rubin’s, mansion/studio at the time. Things get pretty fratty, but you can see the value of living in the same space as your work in progress.

Red Hot Chili Peppers: “Funky Monks” Uncut Full Documentary (1st Edit Uncut with bonus footage)

Use of this video is for “Fair Use” for Educational purposes showing different recording techniques, the creative process and is for comments on Artistic Content. There is a bit of an issue at the beginning of the Video at 0:00:10 – 0:00:36 as it was eaten by my VCR during transfer.

Abstract: the art of design (Netflix series) 

 

Each episode features a designer talking through and demonstrating their craft. It’s filmed in a way that gets inside the voice of its subjects and feels like a creative product all its own, not just a documentary about creatives.

 

The series includes New Yorker cover artist Christopher Niemann, Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield, and designers of cars, sets, and buildings.

 

Hearts of Darkness: a Filmmaker’s Apocalypse

hearts of darkness filmmakers apocalypse francis ford copalla

While her husband was shooting Apocalypse Now, Eleanor Coppola kept home videos and audio recordings of his work. This started as a way to keep herself occupied while adjusting to life in the Philippine countryside, where the family had relocated for the duration of the project.

 

Everything that  can go wrong goes wrong: a hurricane wipes out the set, people get malaria, Coppola burns through all his Godfather money and everything he can borrow, Brando throws tantrums over his body image issues, and the Philippine Army Helicopters–hired for the film–fly away in the middle of a shot on orders to go fight actual rebels.

 

Copolla’s private rants, which Eleanore recorded without his knowledge, are cringeworthy yet familiar to anyone who’s ever felt over their head on a creative project.

 

Fiction Abortions

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while and you saw my recent post about starting a novel, you might be thinking: what about the one you were re-writing last year, or the one you drafted in 30 days?

The answer: those are in the bin.

I’ve written and thrown away three short novels:

 

The first was a plotless, soju-drunk travelogue set in Korea and Japan which I put out of its misery after three drafts.

 

The second was a humorless coming-of-age story that I would have called “literary” as a nice way of saying it wasn’t about anything. That one went through 11 or so drafts and some feedback from family and friends (cringe) before it slept with the fishes.

 

I even wrote a spy novel, which took about 21 days. I had just read a bunch of books on plot and screenwriting and decided it would be easy to whip together something sleek and plot-driven set in the places I had traveled. It didn’t work, but I got one scene out of it, I’m going to use elsewhere, that made the whole thing worth it.

 

I’m sharing this so I don’t have to feel doomed going into the novel I’m working on. There’s a persistent voice that tells me that I’m 0-and-4, and asks why this one should be any different. This is my way of silencing that voice.

 

Rather than crossing my fingers, hoping nobody finds my old posts about the writing and rewriting process, I want to own those false starts and abortions. I’m glad I wrote them, and I’m glad I threw them away. I’m glad I didn’t self-publish work I wasn’t proud of, and I’m glad I’m stepping up to the plate again.

 

If I finish the one I’m working on and put it out in the world, it will only be because of all the work I’ve done up to this point: the stuff I put out there and the stuff I binned.

 

*If you’re the sort of person who gets offended by abortion quips, it’s very unlikely you’ll enjoy my writing. Have a nice day. 

Show Your Work!

 Yesterday’s blog post started as a long caption on Instagram, under a photo of my writing tools. I was sharing my stoke over starting a new novel–in the only way I can since I won’t say what it’s about until I have a draft–but I was also answering a prompt from Austin Kleon’s handy little book,  Show Your Work! In this guide to putting your stuff out in the world, Kleon dispenses powerful and simple advice like “share something small every day.”

 

 

Show your Work by Austin Kleon share something small every day

 

Yesterday, I was doing just that—as I am in with this post. Both days I felt like I had nothing to say, and I’m sure I’ll have to slay that dragon again tomorrow. What got me writing was letting go of the need to create from scratch, opting instead to document what’s right in front of me.

 

In the third day of writing a novel, I don’t have any creative writing that’s ready to share. But I can talk about my process, my tools, my creeping insecurities, and the books on my nightstand—including the one that inspired me to write this post in the first place.

 

Kleon offers specific advice on how to do this:

 

“Once a day, after you’ve done your days work, go back to your documentation and find one little piece of your process that you can share. Where you are in your process will determine what the piece is. If you’re in the very early stages, share your influences and what’s inspiring you. If you’re in the middle of executing a project, write about your methods or share works in progress. If you’ve just completed a project, show the final product, share scraps from the cutting room floor, or write about what you learned. If you have lots of projects out in the world, you can report on how they’re doing—you can tell stories about how people are interacting with your work.” (Kleon, 48.)

 

He also shares a graphic outlining what to share and what not to share:

 

Austin Kleon show your work share something small every day

And that’s the problem: I sort of conflated sharing with oversharing, as if showing friends and followers where I work is the same thing as a selfie-reel or pictures of my lunch.

 

At first glance, that attitude might seem profound, like a humble stand against the self importance and the vapidity of social media. But really, it’s just control freakery in disguise. Part of sharing one’s stuff is letting it go. I don’t dictate the terms of how others experience my work. I don’t get to micro-mange their response. And that’s a good thing, because the response to my post was better than anything I could have arranged for myself:

 

I connected with some new writers, who must have found me through the hashtags.

 

A buddy of mine asked to be a character in the novel—he doesn’t know he already is.

 

One friend noticed the crime writing hashtags and asked me all about that genre—something she didn’t know I was into. And she, in turn, told me about fantasy writing and world-building, something I didn’t know she was working on.

 

Another friend, who I haven’t talked to in a while shared what he learned about long projects from his marathon training. We ended up talking about his next race. (What up, Pete!)

 

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t gotten over myself and put my scrap of the day out into the world.

 

show your work by austin kleon

 

I’m Writing a Novel, these are my tools.

It begins. I’m starting a novel. These are my tools:

Charles Daly writing desk lamy 2000

4”x6” index cards — For my notes. The plastic box is a dumping ground for scene sketches, setting and character details, and random tidbits I don’t want to lose. I started filling the box before I had time to get real about starting a draft.

I get a lot of card-worthy ideas in the shower, on walks, and when I’m driving. I jot them down as soon as I’m dry or have a place to pull over.

Lamy 2000 fountain pen — Anyone who knows me has heard me rant about this pen to all who will listen. It also happens to be Neil Gaiman’s favorite.

 

Yellow legal pads — I draft everything longhand first. Something about the flimsy yellow paper reminds me that it’s just a draft and anything I put down is subject to change and deletion.

My pace is “two crappy pages per day,” which I borrowed from a conversation between Neil Strauss and Tim Ferriss. If I want to write more, that’s cool. But by setting the bar low, it’s easy to have a “successful” writing day.

13” MacBook Air — The 2013 model. I’m not impressed with Apple’s latest offerings. From what I can tell, the touch-bar is just a better way to pause Spotify… The downside of writing longhand is the drudgery of transcription. Lately I’ve been playing with voice recognition, which is faster and also gives me a chance to hear how the page sounds. Taking words from the legal pad to the screen is like a first round of editing.

Yes, I happen to be starting in November. No, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo. The “two crappy pages per day” rule won’t get me to THE END in a month, and I’m okay with that.

 

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What I’ve Been Reading–one Month into my Book Diet

Last month, I started a “reading diet.” The idea comes from Ray Bradbury who recommended that the aspiring read one short story, one poem, and one essay every day, and one novel per week.

I’m reckoning with something I wish I had known a long time ago, that reading is part of your workday as a writer. It’s not laziness or procrastination, it’s not passive, and it’s not optional. You can read more about my first two weeks of this experiment here.

This is  what I read in the second half of March.

What I’m reading

Stories from:

 

 

 

Essays & Non-Fiction:

 

  • “Heroin/e” –Cheryl Strayed

 

 

 

 

 

Poems From:

Novels:

  • I started Proust’s Swann’s Way but swapped it out for John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces after about 20 pages. The former is much harder to read without the snotty English major zeal I had the first time around.

Writing All Night in Dublin Airport

Note: the following was written, edited, and published in the middle of an all-nighter. All typos and style fails are strictly rhetorical.
(Dec, 2016)

I’m writing this in Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport at four in the morning. I’ve decided to turn an overnight layover into an espresso-fueled writing spree. Here’s what I got up to during my impromptu residence.

I Observed and Took Notes

What was cool about spending a waking night in an airport is that all the people I was people-watching were doing the same thing, but they were all doing it differently.

Some people clutched their luggage while they slept, some knew my leg-hooked-through-the-pack-strap trik. One young lady seemed to be having a staring contest with her upright rolling luggage, totally paranoid. One guy slept with his feet up on a luggage cart.

Other people didn’t seem worried enough about their bags.

Continue reading on Medium 

If Literary Legends Were on Social Media — the Modernists

The Lost Generation would have killed it on social media.

21st century publishing would remove the obstacles that kept many now classic authors from wide readership in their lifetimes. Platforms like Twitter and Medium would play to the strengths of different schools within modernism (Twitter for minimalism, Medium for stream of consciousness.)

Here’s where I think you’d find the major figures of modernism online.

Continue reading on Medium 

Hemingway-lion

Interview: Alizé Meurisse – Novelist, Painter, Parisian

Back in 2012, while studying abroad in Paris, I did an interview with Alizé Meurisse that became one of my first blog posts and kicked off the Orange Typewriter series.

Alizé is back to talk about her new novel, Ataraxia, and the journey that has produced four novels, a book of artwork, a few album covers, a solo art exhibition, and a clothing line inspired by her work, all before 30.    


Judging by your books, you’re  a serious people watcher, particularly re: women and men.

I guess so. People are interesting. I am a woman and I’m interested in a woman’s experience. In Neverdays I wrote a masculine narrator, you don’t have to be a man to do that. The whole “write about you know” thing is a bit limited. Art, by definition deals with the universal.

With the new novel I’ve tried to explore SciFi as a way to get out of here and now. A poetic way to talk about issues and talk about the world. It’s like a mirror for our inner theatre and society and the self. 

Ataraxia looks at the way we negotiate with our own consciousness, that tight-rope we walk everyday between compromise and internal consistency: I’m a vegetarian but I’m okay with my leather shoes. I’m an environmentalist who leaves the tap on. I found it was easier to talk about these issues through the lens of SciFi

 

But you’re not ideological. You don’t seem to have an axe to grind. 

It’s about seeing the big picture and the mechanisms at work in our lives.  My interest in those mechanisms came from issues with my own femininity as a teenager. I was upset over the way women are perceived and groomed to be. From that understanding I became kinder and was able to step out of the system myself. Before I figured that out I really had issues with other women and with being one.

 

I don’t know how to put this, but not every writer belongs in a Parisian fashion line… The great feminist Norman Mailer wrote something about how most writers grow up on the sidelines (in American football) and don’t get asked to the big dance and writing is their solace. He argued that it can be hard out there for writers who are easy on the  eyes and socially well adjusted, like they don’t fit in with the misfits.

I probably found the same  solace in drawing and writing and everything. I  don’t feel popular and pretty.

Also my idea of attractiveness has always been a little removed and voyeuristic. Society seems to have a voyeuristic  attraction to artists who drink a lot and take drugs, which I don’t. I would rate myself as interesting or attractive by that standard.

 

What do you think of Paris? Your hometown does happen to be the spiritual home of the arts, but I feel like people who aren’t from there have a very different perspective. We Hemingway-ize the hell out of it.  

I like Paris but it’s very expensive now.  I don’t live the glamorous Parisian life other artists might lead and others might imagine. London has undergone the same change but somehow stays more vibrant. I think it’s up to the young people to keep the scene alive. I haven’t been but I hear Berlin has the hype that Paris once had.

To me Paris a very isolating place. The isolation has improved a little since I adopted a cat. 

You were a painter first, right?

Alize-MeurisseYes. I was always drawing as a kid, writing came later. I only came to enjoy reading literature in high school when I started to understand how a text works. It’s always been about the inner workings of the text for me. I’m more interested in the layers of structure than the outer polish of plot and context.

I prefer the poetry of language to pure story. I think that’s related to drawing and painting. Words are another material, like a brush, like paint.

 

Did you have any formal training as an artist?

There’s an established path for artists in France, I didn’t follow that track. I ran away at 19.

When I was in high school my parents got divorced. I did a 2 year prep course (after high school) in philosophy and lit. When I finished my dad really wanted me to go to uni so we didn’t get along. It got to where he was going to kick me out if I didn’t go. At one point he told me that if I thought I could become a so-called artist and still have a roof over my head I had another think coming. I was so outraged by the injustice of his words I left in a fury. It wasn’t so much his reservations about an artist’s life–that was fair enough–but the way he assumed I was lying and manipulating. I held myself to a very high moral standard in those days and being called a liar was unthinkable. 

Anyway, I called his bluff: I slammed the door,  packed my little suitcase with my Nikon FM camera, and went to London to be an artist. I was 19.

London seemed like a natural choice because it was close and I had studied English in school.  London’s pretty attractive it feels like anything can happen there.

Alize-meurisseI took photos of famous British bands. When I got back, publishers were interested in doing a coffee table book but one publisher told me the book was a bad idea. They said people would only see the fame and I’d be invisible. But let’s see your writing. 

When I decided to turn down the money for the coffee table book and write a novel my father was again furious “who do you think you are! ‘A writer!?’ Get over yourself. You should take the money you’re lucky to be offered for those photos… etc”.
Again I slammed the door behind me. The opposition spurred me on. And of course when the novel came out he was very proud.


I guess sometimes you need to feel that someone has faith in you and I’ve often been lifted by that kind of support. But nay-sayer also have their use in terms of motivation. With hindsight I’m glad I had something to push back against.

It all could have gone very differently. It’s not luck, but when you’re that young you don’t think in terms of a future and a career. I had no idea where any of it was going. What was lucky was my living situation. Because I had a camera a lot of people opened their doors. I could squat anywhere and that changed things. Having a day job makes it harder.

One thing I learned doing it that way is that mistakes aren’t really mistakes.

I chose a very different path but many people need the support and structure of art school. There’s more of that internal negotiation with ourselves. I made it work in a way that worked for me.

 

Were the album covers an offshoot of that London project?

Those came a bit later, after the first novels. I did the Babyshamble’s cover for “Shotter’s Nation” and then Peter’s (Doherty) solo album.

grace/watelands-peter-doherty-solo-album-alize-meurisseshotters-nation-babyshambles-album-cover-alize-meurisse

It’s no secret that there’s a lot of hard drugs in that scene in London. What was that like as a teetotaling observer? In my experience it tends to be the innocent bystanders who catch most of the shrapnel in an addict’s life.

I learned a lot. Trust is funny, you never have any guarantees trusting anyone, but when it comes to any addict you  have the guarantee that the trust will be broken. So people just give up and walk away.

Personally, I’ve never been a big party girl. Even around bands, to me it was more of a clan and a community than a rock and roll bacchanalia.

Publishers like autobiographical fiction. But that’s not me, I don’t have the lifestyle you see in my books. Being around that stuff requires balance. As a person you’re looking for a sense of health and happiness but at the same time you need to let in a little chaos. That’s another one of those bargains, that’s the idea underlying the new novel. Every choice we make matters.

 

Alize-meurisseDo you ever worry about being defined by that time in your life? Your British rock cred does seem to be the first they bring up in reviews and interviews.

It can be a bit frustrating, but you expect people to mention it. You can’t live on bitterness and frustration. The variety of life experiences is so much bigger than any one event or accomplishment. That’s what I’m interested in. 

 

What does research look like for you?

Never thought about seeking out settings and subjects. I like not having a settled life and having the freedom to do something spontaneous. I wonder should I travel? I adopted a cat recently, that’s been a big change. It’s soothing to come home to her, but If I find myself thinking about the possibility of taking a trip six months from now, maybe a trip that I wouldn’t have even considered if I didn’t have this attachment. I can’t so I won’t.

I don’t put myself through things in order to write. I think you have to live your life and if you have something to write then you should write it.  

 

Your first two novels are short, right in that word-count range that’s supposed to make publisher’s nervous. Do you think about that sort of thing?

I’ve always written the books I was interested in figuring out. It’s like a puzzle. Each has its own rules and I’m excited to figure those out. This one was different, more like a camera’s eye moving around. Everything happens in front of you. It’s not meant to be funny, it’s not first person, so you don’t get the same closeness as you do with the other books.

As for an audience, I didn’t think about what the larger public wants, I’ve been lucky to work with publishers who feel the same.

alize-meurisse

Your style has been compared to a “couteau Suisse” (Swiss Army knife.)

That comes from collage. Depth comes from that correspondence of different parts. A text works the same way–visually.

You always hit a moment where you have to replenish yourself, it’s always good to turn to something else, like drawing or painting and come back.

 

What’s something you see a lot in fiction that you don’t like?

I don’t like it when an author is not aware of their own prism, especially when it comes to men writing about women.

Alize-meurisseDo you find you learn a lot from work you don’t like?

Definitely. Rather than getting angry about it, I exercise my right to reply.

 

Who should we read?

I keep reading but my goes blank when anyone asks about favorites. It’s the same with movies. I can’t think in terms of favorites. I guess you could compare it to food right? You eat, you get hungry, but you don’t have a menu in your head.

 

Any thoughts on the future of publishing?

It’s been really eye opening to change publishers. I had to learn what’s going on and the politics involved. But I don’t know what’s going to happen. If anything  it’s (e-publishing) only going to raise the standards for print.

The publishing industry likes safe bets from massive success. I don’t think that will change.

 

I’ve heard other French writers and readers praise Irish/Anglo/American fiction for the way our writers play with language and structure. They say that’s just not done the same way in French. My French isn’t good enough to put that theory to the test.

It’s true. That’s why I love reading in English.

 

The one exception I can think of is Jean Genet

I loved Genet straight away for his use of language.

 

It’s amazing how he can make such an unpleasant subject so emotionally captivating. (Prison sex, for those of you who don’t know.)

That’s the power of poetics. Nabokov’s Lolita does that too.

 

alize-meurisse-jumper-each-otherWe read that book in a class on narrative in college. One young lady told the class it made her wonder, “Was I a ‘nymphet’ at that age?”

It’s so sad, but as women, we’re taught to care about the man’s opinion of us, even if he is a monster like Humbert Humbert.


Do you ever write in English?

I do, and I absolutely love it. Writing in English is like the moment when you check your bags at the airport and you’re free to move around.

 

What’s your process when it comes to painting?

I don’t analyze what I’m doing. Some things work, some things don’t. Not very conceptual I guess. I’m more interested in art alize-meurissewhere you can see the artist’s body in action. Like drawing where you see the hand of interaction between artist and medium.

Conceptual art is like a detective story, once you know “who done-it” there’s nothing there for you anymore. I prefer that fossil trace of the artist. I want to make art that stands up in time, even for a single person, something you can come back to again and again.

The art that I enjoy most makes me want to make things.  

 

Is the “right to reply” related to loneliness in any way? You don’t that connection from a frustrating piece of art so you must connect in your own way.

It’s more of a pure pleasure I think. When I see art that I love it makes me want to make art because the pleasure I get from it is such a high. And the stuff that I disagree with, I just exercise a kind of “right of reply” (most of the time a female right of reply to a patriarchal perspective which I find oppressive and enraging, but it happens with many other subject matters too)

I’ve never been all that active on social media not written a blog or a journal, but I’m happy to post whatever doodle or iPhone pic I might have taken that day that “connection” is very nice on a daily basis although I think the work demands a certain amount of solitude. Of forgetting oneself.

 

Have you got any advice for the person you were ten years ago?

My First book was in 2007, so ten years ago I was working on that. It’s interesting you should ask that because sometimes I wish I could just Alize-Meurisseedit my life, but at the same time if you’re happy with the place you’re in now you don’t want to change it and that includes the times that lead you to that place.

I don’t know that I would give myself advice but I wish I could go back and give myself a hug.

 

What keeps you going?

At the end of (writing) each novel there’s the fear you won’t write another. You don’t have it in you to write another right away and the fear is maybe you won’t. But if you have that writing bug you will be filled again and you’ll have to get it all out on the page.

Painting is much more location dependent. I may move someday for the painting.

People say you have to suffer, but there’s real highs to the writing.

 

So you must be in that place right now… What’s next?

alize-meurisse

I find that after dedicating myself fully to a project I’m not ready to jump straight into something else, there’s a transition period; a palate cleanser moment when I need to get some rest, to replenish, until the need/will to create comes back. A season-like cycle if you will.


I don’t have a routine, sometimes you have to allow yourself to do nothing. At all. Stay empty. And sometimes you have to push yourself a bit to get started again, but so far I’ve found that the happiness I get from creating stuff (writing/drawing) is embedded deep within me, that’s the way I am/see the world/process it/digest it. Of course there are moments of doubt when you wonder whether you’ve still got it in you ; but I guess you learn to go with the flow and not worry during the quieter times which are just as important as the more manic ones, some things happen under the surface.


And I think the recent disappointment in my old publishing company; the anguish of feeling betrayed and misunderstood has given me both the opportunity to fight for my work (I couldn’t have rested until it got published, so much work had to come full circle) but afterward I felt a sort of peace… like I had nothing to prove to myself or anyone anymore, in terms of ambition etc. It was humbling I guess, I realised I was ok with working in a shop and not publishing anything else again.


I guess if I start working and caring about another book the need to release it to the world will come back. But I guess what I’m trying to say is that I was on a path, in a publishing company that wasn’t just thinking in terms of books (each book being it’s own separate project) but in terms of my “carrier” and their own “reputation” (they feared the latter would be threatened by the publication of this book), and this sort of consideration really doesn’t sit well with me.
You always want your books to be well received, and when you’re young you have something to prove yourself so it matters even more. But I’m 30, I know even if I never make a living with my art, that’s ok. I just hope I’ll have other things to release into the world because I know it will be a source of great joy for me; working is such a high.
Sorry about the rambling…

you’re catching me at the lowest ebb
In a nutshell I guess what’s next is perseverance

 


Images courtesy of Alizé Meurisse

This interview has been edited for content and length. 

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