I've had a lot of interviews but Yuvi Zalkow, who interviewed me for The Rumpus this week, has a special quality--as a person, a writer, and an interviewer. His own writing scrapes the heart with authenticity. (See A Briliant Novel in the works at http://tinyurl.com/bqq9nwu) As an interviewer he has the same quality. This brought me out in a new way—a way that felt more real. It's so hard to feel that something personal is happening in the hype-byte of the current age. That's why this particular interview is important to me.
Yuvi talked about the interesting circumstance of our first meeting: That night Yuvi had to read at the opening of Cheryl Strayed's Dear Sugar and was tight for time. We were at the Library Bar at the Hotel Rex with no books and nothing to drink since it was only four and it hadn't opened yet. We had a tense twenty minutes. When we left, my silver Toyota was outside and looked exactly like the silver car Yuvi had rented when he came from Portland. I opened the door to this car instead of mine, to see a startled Yuvi getting ready to drive. Later, we read together in Los Angeles and got a good sense of each other's work. I admire writers who can let loose about their life in the first person. And Yuvi takes tremendous risks with himself.
Eventually we had the interview and I really talked about how I write in a new way. A lot of writing is complicated, but the way we talk about it doesn't have to be. I think the way we talk about it may spill over and inform new work. And so perhaps the act of writing again and again forces us to be more and more authentic in a strange private way: The writer and the reader meet as strangers, behind the scenes, yet get to know each other intimately.
Like all of you, I am always pressing for more intimacy in my work. And I realize the increased intimacy involves self-knowledge of a curious kind. It comes across in metaphor and I don’t always understand how it relates to me. I can never explain my stories—so that’s not what I mean. But I realize I have the experience later of understanding what was on my mind, what I was about. It's almost as though the writing illuminates a part of me I myself don't consciously comprehend. Later—often much later--I am an interpreter, a translator, for my conscious self. This translation seems to reverberate and help me write new work from a deeper place. So it's kind of a feedback loop.
Anyway.... the interview with Yuvi and subsequent conversations helped me understand this loop a bit more. I'd love to hear what the rest of you have to say. Thanks! And here’s the interview:
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