Q: Your journey seems to be rooted in a form of liberation, very reminiscent of the American story of the wanderer, made popular by Jack Kerouac and finding its way into American literature. You suggest in your writing that your lifestyle is a choice. How important is your writing to your journey, and, conversely, your journey to your writing?
A: They form a natural bond. The way I live is both by choice and not. I’ve been below or just above the poverty line my entire adult life. Because of that living in my car and on public lands for large swaths of the year is a necessity. But to wander is a choice. To live an unconventional life is a choice. I feel a strong and inner urge to drift. It helps and harms me. And from all this I cull my writing. I don’t live as half a scum bum for material but it just happens that way. And hey, waking in the trunk of your car covered in puke or sharing dumpster food with a naked homeless gal makes for good material.
You mention Kerouac and you’re right, there’s a long American tradition of young people wandering to find themselves. From On the Road to Wild to countless unknown journeys so much more important. America is vast and beautiful. Its landscape inspires and provides these opportunities. My country has many horrific issues but for those other parts I’m thankful.
I like to root myself in history. Know there’s others like me. That they’ve existed forever and will carry on into infinity. It helps me feel a tad less alone. Less insecure about whether what I’m doing is right. I didn’t even enjoy On the Road or The Dharma Bums but like that past-into-present context. I guess I stab my little stake into history. Form a small column on a long and storied timeline.
Q: There is something uniquely challenging about your narratives. I found your stories to be engrossing and, at times, very difficult to read –and, conversely, to stop reading. Is there something liberating about being able to sing your life with such candor?
A: Yes there is. I learn a lot about myself in my writing. To hold back would be to deny an opportunity to explore my inner being. In tackling difficult material over the years, from suicide to letting a man suck me off so I could pay rent, I’ve come out the other end not embarrassed but free.
When I write about something real people respond to it. Relate to it. That’s the thing I hear most in emails. I know I look like an awful person in some of my pieces and that’s okay. I know some of the things I write are off-putting and that’s okay, too.
I never aim to be shocking, just truthful. Sometimes the truth is shitty, uncomfortable, and hard to read. Conversely it can be a great unifier. Or at the very least my readers can finish a piece and be thankful they don’t shit their pants as often as I do haha.
Finally, I don’t let it enter my head how people will respond to a piece. I’m my first and most important audience. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things I hold back on or don’t know the best way to tackle. I have pieces I’ve mulled over for years and still haven’t released as they deal with delicacy. People know when you get it right or fuck it up. So I hope others respond to my stuff but don’t blame them if they need to put it down. It’s no big deal.
Q: I have come to understand, talking to hundreds of writers over the last few years, that all writers owe a debt of gratitude to another writer or group of writers. For myself, I believe it was the Beat Generation. What writers had the greatest impact on your writing?
A: My whole life I’ve been a reader. My mom is a retired teacher and encouraged my sisters and I to engage our minds. Lots of trips to the library and whatnot. She locked up the TV and made us be outdoors or doing something useful. Not that I didn’t do my best to subvert that but she was pretty good at keeping us on track. I hated it then but appreciate it now.
In adolescence I read deep into the night in my bedroom. The only way I could stop was to just suddenly throw my book across the room. To this day I still love to read. That habit has turned eternal. I didn’t know it then but those first two decades of life honed and trained my tastes. Provided me the foundation of literacy and thought to write so well.
In college I read all the usual authors that people align me with: Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson, Palahniuk, etc. Writers that deal with grit and gross. But for me my biggest debts are owed to the show Freaks and Geeks, the movie Happiness, and the storytelling podcast Risk! All taught me how to balance raw and delicate material with storytelling sensibilities. Taught me the importance of tone. I don’t care if someone is a great line-to-line writer. I just want to feel that what they’re saying is honest and interesting. That’s what’s so great about WordPress. Lots of raw but real writers.
All that being said, I love Ted Conover and Jon Krakauer. Both inspire me. Their writing is clear, clean, and thoughtful. But the writer who’s influenced me the most is Patrick Falterman of HitchTheWorld.com.
He passed away but we were lucky enough to find each other on WordPress while he lived. His prose and adventurous spirit inspire my writing and life to this day. If you enjoy things like Kerouac go check him out. He spent years hitchhiking South America and paddling in the Amazon. What he did with his life and work is incredible. I think of him and our talks often. If I make a tenth the dent he did I’ll die a happy man.
Q: You seem to have amassed a large following. How important is it to you in your evolution as a writer to get that feedback from others and to interact?
A: It’s great but also not my priority. As I alluded to earlier, I’m my most important audience. I write for myself. For catharsis and discovering who I am. But feedback is important, whether critical or positive. Smart critiques can open a blind spot or at least make me ensure that I’ve done things right. And there’s nothing wrong with an ego boost from a thoughtful comment.
I check my email in the morning and if I wake to kind words from a stranger it makes me happy. There’s so much media in the world so to know that someone will take minutes, hours, or days to read my stuff is touching. I’ve received some lovely comments and emails over the years. Also plenty of deranged and creepy ones haha. I’d write even if I had no readers but to have an audience is an aspect I give thanks for.
When I started I only had a few people into my stuff. My sister and friends who clicked the link when I posted to Facebook. Then one day a video I made went viral. I gained a ton of readers from those who wished to dig into other aspects of my creativity. From there it’s been a slow but upward increase.
As fun as it is to see a big number in my follower count it’s frustrating to still have to work all the time to get a fraction of those people to read. To even click on a piece. It’s a never-ending battle but I get it. That’s why I never publish something half-assed or just to churn out content (a word I despise). The public is not here to consume low-effort trash. Put in the work then hope they respond.
It used to be that if I posted a piece I felt great about but received little feedback I’d feel defeated. I’d get over that but for a few hours it’d be a bummer. That’s why I write for myself. I have to feel secure in knowing that what I put out is worthy of my own standards. Equals or surpasses past work. I still ride that up and down in hoping for a positive public reaction. But in the end it’s for me. I’m my most important follower.
Q: Do you have an advice for new writers on perfecting their craft and creating audience?
A: Get to it! There’s a reason everyone says you need to just buckle down and write in order to improve. I’ve been at it for fifteen years. Only in looking back at the past five am I happy with what I read. There’s stuff I wrote a decade ago that I thought was great then but now wonder what form of mold grew on my brain as I scrawled it. That means you can always be improving. I take that growth as a good thing.
It can be painful to look at old stuff but it’s a marker of progress. A place to cull old ideas and make them new with increased talent. Give your work room to breathe then examine it again. Days, weeks, years, whatever. Turn back to old pieces and see what’s good and what needs to be changed.
Always be critical but still trust yourself. Take advice from others but know the limits of that. In college I took many workshops with writers whose stories bored me. Whose work embodied the word bland and possessed no voice. That doesn’t mean they didn’t have valuable input but it taught me to give myself the final word. Even if someone talented gives you advice it doesn’t mean it’s the right advice. Ignore everything I’ve just said if none of it works for you! I mean, I’m a dumbass who lives in a car. Anything I say should be taken with a grain of salty cum.
Writing is unique in its often singular authorship. In its powerful showcase of one driving point of view. To achieve that I’ve always worked alone. I’m a solo ghost and spend most of my time by myself so that comes natural. But it’s also critical for me to be my sole author.
There’s an emanating power that only grows from a singular, authentic voice. Audiences can feel that. Chasing trends and bowing to opinion will only put you on a treadmill to nowhere. Just do your own thing. You might not go far in public but will dive deep into yourself.
Think about more than reading for creative inspiration. You can learn about storytelling from so many mediums. From the people in your life and all around you. Take notes every time you get an idea or encounter something that grinds up ordinary life. Don’t fret too much about technique. Craft is useless if you can’t tell a compelling story.
If you think your shit sucks, if your talent doesn’t match your taste, just keep at it. Write for yourself. Write with honesty. Write from the top of your intelligence. Write stuff you’ll never share just to see what happens when there are no self-conscious restraints.
As for audience, I wish I could say. I read and interact with lots of writers on here. That helps get you out in the community. Plus it’s just a nice thing to do, to let someone know you appreciate their hard work. I print out my stories and leave them in Little Free Libraries or the pages of books whose contents are similar to mine. I respond to every email and thank every reader. It’s a hard grind and a million of us are screaming from the bottom of a well. Only a few will ever catch a bucket up.
The chances are that your stuff will never reach many people or make any money. Countless talented people toil ’til they kick it. But that’s okay. Build your body of work and have something to look back on. To be proud of. If an audience finds you then they’ll have years of stuff to read. If they don’t then hey you’re a better writer. It’s a long life. Who knows what’ll happen. At the very least you can print it all out and use it for cum rags.
If you’re a billionaire who likes my writing but can’t cum unless you help me afford more than dumpster food then you’re in luck. Ways to support my work can be found here: Support my Writing!