. In AMO
I’ve done hard stuff in my life. I’ve gone glamping in Coachella, walked in H&M heels, been on dates with boys who play sports and even graduated Fashion School. But the hardest thing I’ve ever done is try to write a book.
My friend Karley Sciortino recently published a book and I was jealous of her until she told me that doing so was “literal torture.” (I’m still jealous, but also like, in awe of her struggle or whatever). Another blonde-girl writer I’m friends with in my imagination (Cat Marnell) tweeted that she wouldn’t wish having to write a book on her worst enemies! Still, I’m dying to do it. Why? Don’t I publish enough crap online? I guess I wanna “make my mark” and contribute to deforestation.
I moved to LA to “concentrate on my writing” aka get skin and liver damage while sitting by swimming pools to “collect my thoughts” and going to parties to “get inspired.” A few weeks ago I went to the Hotel Roosevelt for a party which turned out to be a book launch for Edy Poppy’s newly translated autofiction novel about her open relationship. HOW are these other blonde women shaking up the literary world while I’m stuck writing for magazines? I must be missing some simple TIP that has nothing to do with my personal work ethic! I cornered Edy in a bathroom and stole some of her secrets.
Edy Poppy by Gry Garness
SZ: On a scale of 1 – Childbirth, how painful is writing a book?
EP: Childbirth is an impossible task. It doesn’t make any sense. The pain is almost impossible to handle. Inhumane, in a way. Writing a novel is somehow equally painful and thrilling. It took me years to finish my first book. I almost gave up many times. Thomas Mann says a writer is someone who has more difficulty writing than most people. I find it a very masochistic kind of work. I try not to be a smart or clever writer, but a brave one. I try and fail a lot. Through doing that I have written Anatomy. Monotony. and a Short Story Collection, Coming. Apart. (which will also be translated soon). I think I will write till I die.
SZ: Autobiographical fiction is very #trendy now. Like every girl I know publishes ‘oversharing’ essays and has a sex column on VICE (hehe). How did you decide which truths to keep and which to embellish in your autofiction?
EP: Autobiographical fiction has always been trendy. Diaries have been published for centuries! What’s new is that so many can share their words on the Internet. I think that’s why the texts from real life nowadays often are banal and irrelevant. When you write about yourself, one of the crucial points is understanding what about your experience has general relevance and what is only interesting to you and your friends. The fact that something really happened doesn’t necessarily make it into believable literature. For it to become literature, you have to look for the essence of what happened, find what’s at stake, look for an emotional truth rather than a factual one. To lie. Yes, sometimes you have to lie in order to say the truth!
Edy Poppy by Gry Garness
SZ: I have heard you talk about WARM WRITING and COLD WRITING, can you describe the difference?
EP: I actually borrowed this concept from one of the 20th centuries most important erotic writers and confessors, Anaïs Nin. I used it all the time when I wrote Anatomy. Monotony. The warm writing is the uncensored writing, spontaneous, and uncontrollable, a form of wordvomit. I don’t judge the words. Because if I do that too soon, the real challenging ideas might never dare to come out. At the same time, there is a lot of bullshit, of course. After a while I need the cold writing, the critical and analytical eye to help me. In Anatomy. Monotony. I deleted at least half of everything I wrote. After a wordvomiting period, and then a starving, deleting one, I started a slower process. I wrote a sentence here and there. I reread a lot. I always do that. I’m like a detective in my own work, looking for hints given by my subconscious of how to continue the text.
SZ: A friend of mine had to leave NYC after he wrote about NYC nightlife, using real names, etc. Did you have to flee after Anatomy. Monotony. was published? Did you make any enemies?
EP: For me it was rather the opposite! Through Anatomy. Monotony. I had people contacting me, asking how they can become characters in my texts, rather than wanting to be left out of them! My characters are rarely made up of one person alone, mostly they are patchworks. My mother, for instance, is like the mother of the main character, Vår, addicted to the news. She also smokes cigarettes, even if my mother has never touched one in her life! I gave her the chance to decide if she wanted to be identified as the literary mother in the story or not. But sometimes the reality is more obvious. When I was interviewed by the wonderful American writer Siri Hustvedt in New York, the cellist from my novel played for us, right after I had read about him in my novel. He plays cello in the book and played cello at the event. At this moment the line between fiction and reality disappeared. They were the same.
Edy at the Roosevelt Hotel book launch where we met! By Tyler Curtis
SZ: Your description of an open marriage gave me panic attacks. How did you handle all the drama and jealousy? Any pill/cocktail you could recommend?
EP: I think any pill or alcohol you have access to will do the job. Mix them all together, add some carrots and broccoli in the blender. Drink it with a straw while standing on your head. Then count to 100 backwards in a foreign language. You’ll see that, as by magic, your jealousy has disappeared! But beware, if you do the steps in the wrong order, it can have the opposite effect and you’ll be more jealous than ever! Like you mentioned in your question, in Anatomy. Monotony. I write a lot about jealousy! It’s not a simple story about a horny, open minded couple wanting to fuck around. It’s rather the opposite. The main character, Vår, is very jealous and uptight. Sexuality is something she is not comfortable with-but very interested in! Through games, Vår and her husband Lou challenge their own comfort zones. Lou, dares Vår to fall in love with another man. And he promises that if she does so, he will break up with his lover. When Vår asks what he has to gain from this experience, he says there has to be something at stake, and that he wants to test if his own jealousy has evolved. During the early stages of their open relationship, Vår fell in love with someone else and that had almost destroyed their marriage. But instead of becoming a more careful couple through this experience, they become even more daring. To be in an open marriage, or not to be in an open marriage, that is not the question! It’s an answer.
SZ: Have you found a cure for writer’s block?
EP: A writer’s block normally comes when you have nothing to say. What you need to do then is to find something to say. In a way it’s that simple. Fill yourself, like a bulimic, eat experiences, culture, conversations, look at the world around you and what it does to the world inside you. Keep filling yourself till something comes out. (And if it doesn’t work, try the cocktail-receipt I described earlier.)
SZ: What are you working on now?
EP: I’m working on a new novel about my current situation. I am an artist in love with another artist, the German performance-maker Julian Blaue. We are developing a series of performances together, called The Personal Encounter with World Politics. Right now we are in Rio de Janeiro, meeting the world politics in the favelas, so to say, but that’s another story…Together we have two small children. Some of the many questions my new novel rises are: How can we combine being artists, with being parents, with being lovers, with being world travelers, with being wild, with making art?