[I wrote this before the interview came out, then figured I should hold onto it and post, in quick succession, a screed about what I felt before it came out, and then a screed with what I felt after.]
Today I made what felt like the difficult decision to pay $18.99 for a digital collection of interviews with the writer William T. Vollmann, whose latest novel The Lucky Star was one of the best books I read last year, and who’s a fairly private guy, a relative “recluse” living in California; but he’s also a capital-A Artist, dancing to his own tune and all that, juggling several writing projects at a time and sometimes traveling around the world to put himself in dangerous reportorial situations, risking his life.
Apart from liking his work, I respect him as an artist.
But the interviews in this collection are pretty damning insofar as they progress chronologically, beginning when he was my age, in the early 1990s, up to 2020 where now he’s in his early 60s, calmer, more relaxedly himself and not doing much posturing.
What’s damning about the interviews from when he was my age, though, is that he IS posturing, trying to build a persona.
This dies off after just a dozen interviews over the course of three or four years, but it’s annoying while it’s happening, and it’s making me hypersensitive about an interview I gave to a podcast, The Blair List, that’ll be coming out either this Wednesday or next Wednesday.
It’s hosted by Blair Cassutto, who’s great at what she does, and who I had the pleasure of interviewing on my own podcast a couple months ago. Her podcast focuses mostly on entrepreneurs and motivation and career advancement and building a following, branding, etcetera–very optimistic stuff! I dig it. I recommend it.
But I’m also convinced that I was an absolute killjoy when we spoke–also, I had a beer as we were speaking, and toward the end of the hour I started burping a lot, which maybe she was kind enough to exclude, I have no idea.
But here’s another thing: I’ve got this ebook coming out called “The Moon and Her Sister Turn Thirty and Leave”, it’s a follow-up and kinda spiritual sequel to “My Three Repugnant Children (of Whom I’ve Recently Grown Fond)”, and it’s only like a hundred pages long, it’s two essays and two short stories and some drawings, and I’m very pleased with it.
I think I did a good job with this.
Or I did a good job of realizing what I wanted to put out and meeting my goal.
I feel as confident about this little ebook as I felt about the last one.
They are, I think, the two creations of which I’m most proud.
What I’m thinking, frankly, is that this current situation I’m in, of working pretty much full time as a bartender while churning out slim volumes of short fiction and essays every few months, might be the situation that’s ultimately “right” for me.
The one that comfortably and effortlessly endures.
Because yes I love writing novels–but they’re a huge investment of time, and also (!) they never get published, and I’m too self-conscious about going the indie route with a full-length novel.
So yes I like this indie thing, but I’m not particularly fond of self-promotion (I’m frankly kinda terrified about how I come off in this Blair List interview), but maybe that’s a good thing because what if, without my even realizing it, I’m coming off the way that William T. Vollmann comes off in the interviews he gave at the same age.
Like I’m posturing, doing some over-eager thing to mask my nervousness (cuz I remember my voice was definitely trembling as she asked me the first few questions.
I’ve spent a long time fretting about where my life is going. What I’m beginning to think now is that maybe I’ve found my groove.
I’m a pretty OK bartender, at least in every aspect of the job that doesn’t involve making drinks, and I’m a pretty decent essayist and storywriter.
Maybe these things can cohabitate in a comfortable stasis. Feeding one another. Like my calling in life wasn’t to be a writer but, rather, a writer-bartender.S
Sounds hokey, I know, but I think we need to spell these things out sometimes.
And yes this post is supposed to dovetail off the one I just put up, about the fact that I’m dating someone and it’s going pretty well. Whether or not this blooms into a relationship, the fact of the matter is that I just turned 30, and I’m steadily involved with someone who’s also in their 30s, and we talk in a level-headed and revealing way about our lives, about the expectations we have of ourselves, about looking for an unspectacular but dependable form of happiness.
There’s a way in which this feels like acquiescence or surrender, telling myself that I’ll just spend the foreseeable future serving cocktails and writing short stories and essays, but there’s another part of me that feels like, Eureka!, y’know?
Anyway, we’ll see how it goes.