The Rats of Hyper-Reality–a Chat with Jim Ruland

Jim Ruland’s debut novel, Forest of Fortune is a new classic of California noir. It’s Raymond Chandler in the age of polyamory, Dashiell Hammett with a novelty coke straw up its nose, Inherent Vice after the yuppies stormed the beaches and nudged all the freaks east of the 405. The setting, a “possibly haunted” Indian casino is hysterical, the players are human and heartbreaking. No blurb could really do Forest justice, so let’s hear Jim read it. Here you have the infamous Korean Gangster threesome:
Jim Ruland is among the California Republic’s most energetic and collaborative authors. He commands an army with his Vermin on the Mount reading series. His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Believer, Granta, Hobart, Los Angeles Times, Oxford American, McSweeneys, and Razorcake. He is the author of the short story collection Big Lonesomeand co-author of Giving the Fingerthe memoir of an Alaskan crab fisherman. I caught Jim on his way to Prague for Vermin’s European tour
Tell us about Forest of Fortune.
Forest of Fortune tells the story of three haunted souls trapped in an Indian casino on a reservation in Southern California with a slot machine that may or may not be haunted. It is useful to know that I worked at an Indian casino for over five years. I like to call it my autobiographical ghost story.

Will there be a sequel?  
I think so. I don’t want to drop any spoilers so I won’t say too much, but at the end of the book some characters get out of the casino while others stay behind. I’m interested in following both storylines. I think one of the secondary characters in the novel could end up becoming a protagonist in the follow up. And I’d like to saddle Pemberton, the character who is the most autobiographical, with another ridiculous job: as a writer for a magazine that is a distribution vehicle for a notorious series of soft-core porn videos.

Tell us about THIS IS NOT A CAMERA.To celebrate the launch of the paperback of Forest of Fortune, I put out a series of short essays about what it was like to work in an Indian casino during the recession. The pieces were originally published by McSweeney’s and I’ve gathered them in a zine with photos, promos and fake logos. You can order THIS IS NOT A CAMERA for under a buck.

Dependence and addiction of all sorts feature prominently in your work, what is it about those states?
Addiction and dependence are altered states taken to their unnatural extremes, but it seems to me that the desire to shatter the status quo and break free of our body’s baseline consciousness is endemic to the human experience. Consider how difficult a process it is to distill spirits or make drugs in the natural world, yet just about every culture found a way to do it. Not to sound like Allen Ginsburg, but it’s how we become holy. 
Your work is a mix of solo projects and more collaborative endeavors. You seem to give both a lot of love and attention. How do you balance these in a given working day? 
I’m not sure that I do. I am by nature an all-or-nothing type of person. If I have a bunch of interviews to transcribe for a project, for example, my goal will be to work on them for an hour a day. But I’m never satisfied and that hour turns to two or more. Then I feel like I’m ahead of the game and I’ll turn my attention to the story or novel I’m working on, but then I’ll get sucked up in that and it might take me a couple of days to get back to the interviews and I’m behind again. I was never very good at moderation, which is why I’m a recovering alcoholic. The best advice I can give is to use what little time you have as best as you can with as much intensity as you can muster and have faith that it will all work out in the end.
This blog deals a lot with creativity hacks. How do you work?
I find that if I get something down first thing in the morning – whether it’s transcribing, a book review, or one of my own projects – it helps me sharpen my focus with respect to how I spend the rest of my free time that day. I have a day job and work from home so its important to do something for me first. I had a realization last year that the bulk of the writing I do will never appear in a book. That really helped me focus my energy on books projects and making sure I do something every day to move the book projects forward.

One Question for Seth Godin

This blog owes its existence to the wisdom of Seth Godin. These posts are an exercise in what he calls “shipping.” I make something every day and put it out in the world in order to practice the vulnerability required to make art. I think out loud often enough and publicly enough that I lose any fear of sharing my words. Seth Godin’s blog is my model. 
For those of you who don’t know, Seth Godin is the best selling author of Poke the Boxthe Icarus Deception, and the Purple Cow. He is the founder of Squidoo and Yoyodyne, one of the first online marketing firms. Forbes Magazine described Godin as a “Demigod on the web… uniquely respected for his understanding of the internet.” 
Recently Godin reached out to his readers for questions to address in an online course on freelancing. Mine is one of the questions that he chose. Here’s what he had to say: 
Charles Daly:
If, starting today, you had to draw 100% of your income from writing fiction how would you go about doing that? As writers we’re told that only the outliers get to pay the bills with novels, is that true?
Seth Godin:
As I’ve said before, and I’m going to keep saying, being generic is a choice. Being average is a choice, being in the middle is a choice. Only outliers can make a good living as freelancers. Only outliers make a living writing fiction. 
It’s the outliers who succeed, so that’s not the question. The question is: what type of outlier are you willing to be? 
One type of outlier is to be the writer of a specific type of genre fiction that you can own, that you can be the leader of, that you can be on the edge of. There’s someone I was talking to the other day who writes adult fiction that involves men and women and various furry animals. Don’t ask me, but there are people who really want that and if you’re the one who owns that genre you can do just fine. 
The other alternative is […] to build a subscriber base. You, like Charles Dickens, can have people who sign up to hear from you on a regular basis. 
So our work, as a writer of fiction, is to build something people want to talk about and they want to sign up for. 
What I say to every first-time novelist is simple:  if you can’t get it sold to a big, fancy publishing house (and you probably can’t,) take your novel, print it to PDF–make it pretty–and then send your novel to a hundred people. If they share it with a thousand or ten thousand people you’re doing great and publishers will start calling you. And if they don’t share it, well, your novel wasn’t that good and you should start over. But either way, it doesn’t wait for you to sit around hoping to get picked. 
Seth Godin
Seth Godin’s Freelancer Course is available through Udemy. It is a must for anyone interested in freelancing and entrepreneurship. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Along with Seth Godin’s eighty-seven mini lectures (varying in length from 1 to 5 minutes,) you get an active and supportive online community, and assignments to evaluate your assets as a freelancer. 
There’s another lesson here: I almost didn’t submit my question. There was a deadline, so I didn’t think I had enough time to craft something perfect that would wow my hero (because that’s why you ask questions, right?) Besides, I’m not someone who wins contests anyway. My question was far from perfect–I think I sounded like a fourth grader on career day–but I shipped it.
Thank you, Seth. 

Wesley Rothman, Show us Where you Show up

To kick off our Show us Where you Show up series: meet Wesley Rothman, a Boston poet and “Baldwin disciple” originally from back west. You can find his work pretty much everywhere fine poems are printed, including the walls of Boston City hall later this month. Wes, take it away… 

1. Who are you, where can we find you and your work?

I’m a poet and critic. I’m a regular reviewer for American Microreviews and Interviews. Other critical work has appeared in Rain Taxi Review of BooksPrairie SchoonerSoutheast ReviewThe RumpusPloughshares, among other venues. Some interviews and essays are featured in Tupelo QuarterlyFour Way ReviewThe Missouri Review, and Connotation Press: An Online Artifact
2. What’s you’re creativity hack of choice?

If a poem or essay isn’t already churning in my mind, my go-to practice for generating work is reading. There’s always a new book of poetry or essays to read, and revisiting older favorites not only pulls me into the space of crafting, but often throws phrases, words, or reactions at me which spin out into new drafts, explorations of a new poem. I also love what visual art does for making a poem draft.

3. What are you working on?

I’m in the late stages of shaping my first collection of poems, SUBWOOFER–an exploration and interrogation of white privilege in America, a ‘prayer’ book to language and sound and voice and listening, an attempt to enter the ongoing process of redemption.

Wesley has work forthcoming in Narrative, Crab Orchard Review, Post Road, Waxwing, Mississippi Review,Poet Lore, and an anthology published by Math Paper Press, edited by Peter LaBerge and Talin Tahajian, called Poets on Growth.Facebook: wesley.rothman & poetwesleyrothman. Twitter: @wesleyrothman.

*Show us where you show up, brings you the work spaces and work habits of working writers and artists at work. Click here for details.

The Orange Typewriter joins the Springsioux Tribe

Alisa Gusakova
Rings by Springsioux
Photo by Sime Eskinja
The orange typewriter welcomes Pierre-Antoine De Myttenaere and Alisa Gusakova, founders of the lifestyle brand Springsioux. This summer they will launch a collection made by a ‘tribe’ of artists from Paris and beyond. Drawing from street art, tattooing, after hours culture, and music (with a mix-tape on their website). Springsioux began with an update on the rock and roll essential, the black t-shirt, adding creatures from Native American lore.

  Springsioux’s 2012 line features silk t-shirts, fish leather bracelets, and a capsule collection combining silver and fur by Orange Typewriter Guest and fur master Quentin Veron.

S&D: How did you assemble the tribe?

PA: Springsioux began with a t-shirts line I put together when I was playing in a new wave band. Alisa managed our Russian tour and during this trip we shared ideas and realized we had a lot in common. We found a perfect balance between creative energy and business so we decided to partner up and launch a jewelry line.

Our friend Photographer Pierre Yves Toledano was also with us during this Russian tour that gave birth to a team with the motto: work hard, party harder. 

Pierre-Antoine live in
St. Petersburg. 

S&D: What have been some influences on the style of Springsioux?

Alisa: We are influenced by underground subcultures linked to heavy metal, and by native American and Mexicans artwork. We try to combine both universes into something unique using unusual combinations of material like fish-leather and silver…I fell in love with fish-leather several years ago in Russia: we can credit Alexander Wang as a major inspiration for our work with this material.

the Tribe’s DJ Victoria Frangie

S&D: Has your personal look influenced Springsioux or visa versa?

Alisa: Our first creations were what we wanted to wear but couldn’t find in other brands. We don’t really think about what people are expecting to buy, we focus more on creating pieces we love. Springsioux gives us the opportunity to enhance and share our wardrobe and our personal style.

S&D: Tell us more about the Tribe’s Paris roots.

P.A: As the months passed, we gathered talented people who believed in us. DJ Victoria Frangie became our brand ambassador. Music video director Aurélien Offner joined the tribe, and we’ve recently started a collaboration with tattoo artist Eddie Czaicki on a t-shirt line which will be released in September. We are also currently working with fur designer Quentin Veron on an accessory line. As we collaborate we strengthen and expanded the tribe. This is what makes these projects totally exciting.

“Springsioux is a tribe, weaving through the crowd,
remaining alive in the darkness…”

S&D: The brand’s motto is ‘alive in the darkness’ describe what this means to you:

P.A: Springsioux has evolved in the shadows. We are not interested in the mainstream culture; our goal is to create something different and powerful, something for a person to wear while doing his/her own thing. We’re fighting against conformity and creating a community while we’re at it…Springsioux is a tribe, weaving through the crowd, remaining alive in the darkness.

Interview by Charlie Daly

Next time: The Orange Typewriter crosses the Atlantic and Lake Michigan to meet Craig Engel and Lorrisa Julianus: partners on stage, in the studio and in life.