Kate Robinson asked me to participate in this writing process blog tour. I met Kate last December at a collaborative poetry broadside workshop she led at Mills College (where I am currently finishing my undergraduate degree in Almost Being Thirty). We discovered we had a lot in common–we share the ambition of one day printing a deck of tarot cards, we both come from punk (yeah, you can come from it, like a place). This semester I was in her experimental book editioning class, where, among other things, I made a letterpressed sigil. I would never have guessed that my interests in zines and chaos magic would serve me in an academic context, but here we are in California.
ABOUT MY WRITING PROCESS
1) What am I working on?
- Various flowcharts/graphs that endeavor to conclusively settle cultural debates
- Making a typeface of my handwriting to improve the legibility and flow of my comics
- Writing music for a new band / Grieving my geographical separation from Erin/HGJ
- Getting ready for an exciting studio overhaul with my partner Ben Sap, getting our printing equipment organized and giving it the tender loving maintenance it needs. Hopefully this instance of studio/press maintenance will not involve the rental of a pallet jack. Fingers crossed.
- Finishing my psychosexual erotic horror short story “Have You Ever Had an Experience You Can’t Explain”
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
- I’m not sure what my genre is – only recently did I realize that some of the writing I do can (generously) be considered journalism. The genre in which I have participated for the longest is show flyers. If that is my genre, my work differs from others in that it is more loquacious and political. If my genre is feminist writing, I have more curse words. If my genre is journalism, I have…more curse words. If my genre is music, I have more interconnectedness with visual aesthetic. If my genre is book art, I make stuff that looks more like propaganda or zines. If my genre is zines, my stuff is printed better. If my genre is comics, I have more curse words.
3) Why do I write what I do?
- Because I have to. If it wasn’t a compulsion, I would take up something more useful, like botany or engineering. The two writers I’ve come across who best articulate my creative philosophy are Ann Cvetkovich (on crafting, ritual, and political depression) and Lynda Barry (on setting aside meaning and worth in pursuing your work). In other words, I write because I must, because it is a ritual akin to meditation, because it is a way of coping, and I try not to worry about whether or not what I do is good or important or if people are going to like it. Like Duke Ellington used to say when asked what his favorite song was–the next one he hadn’t written yet. That’s what I focus on.
4) How does your writing process work?
- I often plan printing or art projects around new skills or techniques I want to master. Perhaps because a jazz musician raised me, I have this map in my head: practice -> mastery -> improvisation. I try to work on skills until the point where I can play with them. This is important because it positions play as being the destination or ultimate goal of art–play, which is accessible, fun, not goal-oriented, a celebration of whatever medium in which it occurs. So I work as hard as I can until it feels like play. Like my hero Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore once advised me, “anarchists can be the worst self-exploiters.” Oops!
For next Monday, I’m tagging some important friends:
- Darin Acosta and Breonne DeDecker together are The Airline Is A Very Long Road, cultural geographers living in and devoted to Louisiana. I could talk extensively about why and how Darin and Breonne inspire me, but suffice to say: they are hard-working and focused. They treat their subjects with elegance and dignity. When they project their imaginations on the post-industrial landscape, I see new possibilities for living.
- Katy Otto and I have been friends for about a decade. She was a pivotal figure for me when I met her as a teenager, showing me how to claim space for myself as a survivor of violence. In Katy I found a desperately-needed friend, and a desperately-needed roadmap for how to be a complicated and funny woman who demands a lot from life. Over the years we played shows together, lived together, and led workshops together on community-based strategies for supporting survivors of sexual assault. Katy is an outrageously prolific writer, poet, musician, and activist, who clearly inhabits a reality with more than 24 hours in a day. I wish we lived in the same city. I miss her spark and her mischief.