- What is your first memory of writing for fun?
In high school I filled countless notebooks with poetry to kill time whenever I was bored—on the bus, at school, during downtime at work where I loaded groceries into suburban station wagons—immortalizing my friends, enemies, and crushes in laughably horrible rhyming verse that I dashed off with an ease and agility that I now find almost impossible to fathom.
- How many drafts = done?
I endlessly revise as I am writing so that a first draft has typically been through a long series of mutations before I have reached a provisional ending. After that it depends on the circumstances. Working in the theater on a strict deadline has meant that I am often in rehearsal before I am satisfied with whatever draft I am on, and oftentimes seeing what actors do with their lines is a huge and welcome influence on the final result.
- What is your favorite book or favorite book-of-the-moment?
For some reason I pulled Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure off the shelf yesterday on my way to get my driver’s license renewed, and it proved a perfect escape from the bureaucratic torments of the MVA. I also just finished three small gemlike books by Fleur Jaeggy, whose strange, often morbid turns of thought are beautifully rendered in sentences that repeatedly astonish. A totally unique voice.
- What is it about your discipline that gets you the most excited?
Dreaming about actually acquiring discipline, which is something that eternally eludes me.
- What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?
The ones that send me to the dictionary because I realize I only think I know them or I want to know them better. Appeal, for instance, I just discovered comes from the Latin appellare which can mean to address, to accost, to name (an appellation), among other things all involving words and speaking, and which broken down literally means to strike at, from pellere, to beat or knock or push or set in motion, which gives a physical reality and action to the use of words and the naming of things that I find very appealing.
Bonus question: The apocalypse starts tomorrow – what are the first three steps to ensure your survival?
I’m not sure I want to survive the apocalypse, so I’ll probably just write about it until it kills me in the hope that whatever I write will survive in my place.
Good call on the apocalypse, Alex.
Come out TONIGHT, Tuesday, September 12th and hear Alex and our other readers at Writer & Words! 7pm, Charmingtons, don’t miss it!