Writing Process Chain Letter

The fiercely talented and magical mkimarnold tagged me in the writing process chain letter that has been going around. Mary-Kim is one of my favorite writers & people, and I feel blessed that I knew her BEFORE she became famous for taking over from ROXANE GAY as Essays Editor at The Rumpus (!!!)). Mary-Kim’s writing is incredible and scarily inventive and if you are not familiar I encourage you to be so. Also if you ever have the opportunity to ditch AWP and get burgers with her, do that. I do. 


What are you working on?

Mostly I am trying not to drown under feelings that I am useless and terrible and wasting my life and incapable of every accomplishing ever. I mean I have projects? But it’s been a difficult summer, and if other people were able to set aside the world completely fucking melting down this week and work on their writing projects, kudos to them! I was not. Sorry to be real! But OK when I’m not being an emotional dishrag in front of twitter because of all the powerful images of people standing with their hands in the air while undereducated police militia point assault weapons at them, I’m working on two novellas (one about Amanda Bynes, one about Kim Kardashian) and a book about celebrity twin sisters. Which, like, to see it written out like that makes me want to give up completely about the futility of my life.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I think this is a terrible question and whoever decided to include it in this chain letter has a lot of growing up to do. 

Why do you write what you do?

Like this whole thing was written by a white male who is ALL FIRED UP about his MFA. GIve me a break with this special snowflake magic of writing shit. I write the things I write because they are interesting to me. Or not even interesting, it’s just what’s in my head for some reason, so that’s what needs to be cleared out. I write because I get jealous of other writers and worried I’ll get left behind. I write because I have literally no other hobbies. I write because I get really fucking crazy if I don’t, the end.

How does your writing process work?

I try to find hours or parts of hours here and there, when there isn’t life/family/work/laundry/dishes/whatever to attend to. The phrase “carving out time” is very real to me. It feels like that, a physical act, the strenuous and exhausting work of finding and shaping and pulling this time out of the huge fucking complicated tangle of life. A lot of the “writing” happens in my head when I’m away from a keyboard, arranging the pieces mentally so I can just get it all down as soon as I have an hour to myself. Often in conversations with people I’m nodding my head but not really listening, I am using that time to figure out what happens next in my story. Evernote is very helpful b/c I can dump things into my phone or my work computer or my laptop and later it’s mainly just cutting & pasting & editing. I work slowly. It’s ridiculous. It’s a joke, how long it takes me to accomplish something that any 20 year old blogger could spit out in 20 minutes while standing in line at Starbucks.

THE END. That was fun, right? Sorry this is a downer, it’s been a week. Now I will tag amyspalding lest the chain become broken and my soul become forfeit. Amy has written some of my favorite books, and she has one of the best and healthiest attitudes towards the balancing act of writing/work/life that I have ever seen. She is an amazing writer and a daily inspiration to me.


I’ve been thinking about this Jezebel piece tonight, while scrolling through the coverage of the atrocities happening in Ferguson. The piece, “Why Would I Ever Want to Bring a Child Into this Fucked Up World?”, was written less than a month ago. Over the past couple of days, everything has gotten worse. Maybe I notice it more, maybe I’ve been watching more attentively; I don’t know. My child is two.

When I was pregnant, Adam Lanza shot 20 children to death. A few weeks after I gave birth, James Holmes killed 12 people in Aurora, Colorado. I used to absorb these kinds of news items with a sigh and close the computer, but suddenly — when I knew I would be leaving someone behind in the world eventually, alone — I couldn’t. When I was pregnant, I would sit with my computer on my thighs, and I would feel obligated to absorb the despair, because it was important in a new way. I used to think, “Well, this is the world,” and the impact I felt was numbed and relatively small. I had armor to protect me. Now I have none. But, of course, this isn’t about me, or at least it’s only about me as much as it’s about you, assuming you’re a person who isn’t currently in Ferguson or Gaza (or assuming, even, that you’re not Zelda Williams). What it’s about is how we are now given access to horrible, unspeakably awful things, and we feel paralyzed together in outrage, watching.

Of course, there are things we can do (for instance, donating to the Missouri ACLU might be a good idea). We can acknowledge things that we don’t like to admit: that mental illness is devastating and we need better resources to help those who are brave enough to seek it; that the militarization of police forces and discrimination are a devastating — and real — combination; and that no matter what we do, chaotic acts of violence will always exist and will always remind us of how volatile and scary we can be to each other. 

When I was younger I used to think of that Breakfast Club quotation, “When you grow up, your heart dies.” Without shading John Hughes (I would never), I now find this is both melodramatic (obviously) and untrue. Your heart explodes, sometimes a million times a day. It is horrible, but it’s also a gift. The longer you remain in the world, regardless of whether or not you procreate, the larger your investment in it. It gradually feels more like it belongs to you, and you to it, and you are less of an outlier. You gain your footing and look around, and begin to actually notice and react to what you see. You have context. You become more powerful, and even when you know you can’t do much, you still feel very close to being able to do something.

The only thing that consoles you when everything is falling down around you is information, because now you know that the thing our generation has going for it is that we speak and we listen. The arrests of reporters in Ferguson is beyond unnerving, but the one thing that I find uplifting is that we’re evolving around these barriers. The brave journalists who have reported from Ferguson — several of whom have been arrested — are giving us a little power by igniting our consciences. We still have a long way to go, but we have a greater capacity for caring than we’ve ever had. Why would anyone ever hope to bring a child into this fucked up world? I suppose that it would be because he or she would hope that that child could change it. I do hope for that. Even — especially — now.

from “The Spell” by Marie Howe


Every day when I pick up my four-year-old daughter from preschool
she climbs into her back booster seat and says, Mom—tell me your story.
And almost every day I tell her: I dropped you off, I taught my class
I ate a tuna fish sandwich, wrote e-mails, returned phone calls, talked with students
and then I came to pick you up.
And almost every day I think, My God, is that what I did?

Yesterday, she climbed into the backseat and said, Mom
tell me your story, and I did what I always did:
  I said I dropped you off
taught my class, had lunch, returned e-mails, talked with students…
  And she said, No Mom, tell me the whole thing.

And I said, ok. I feel a little sad.
And she said, Tell me the whole thing Mom.
And I said, ok Elise died.

Elise is dead and the world feels weary and brokenhearted.
And she said, Tell me the whole thing Mom.
And I said, in my dream last night I felt my life building up around me and
  when I stepped forward and away from it and turned around I saw a high
  and frozen crested wave.

  And she said, the whole thing Mom.
Then I thought of the other dream, I said, when a goose landed heavily on my head—
But when I’d untangled it from my hair I saw it wasn’t a goose but a winged serpent
writhing up into the sky like a disappearing bee.

And she said, Tell me the whole story.
And I said, Elise is dead, and all the frozen tears are mine of course
and if that wave broke it might wash my life clear,
    and I might begin again from now and from here.

And I looked into the rearview mirror—
She was looking sideways, out the window, to the right
    —where they say the unlived life is.

Ok? I said.
And she said, Ok, still looking in that direction.

To ascribe this entirely to contempt for black men is to miss an essential variable, though—a very real, American fear of them. They—we—are inexplicably seen as a millions-strong army of potential killers, capable and cold enough that any single one could be a threat to a trained police officer in a bulletproof vest. There are reasons why white gun’s rights activists can walk into a Chipotle restaurant with assault rifles and be seen as gauche nuisances while unarmed black men are killed for reaching for their wallets or cell phones, or carrying children’s toys.

"To live, just move forward towards those you love."

Needed this again today


"To live, just move forward towards those you love."

Needed this again today

Know what is happening in Ferguson


Know that Mike Brown was murdered without reason.
Know they left his body out, like they left out lynched Black folk to scare people
Know his community was grieving
Know they wanted solidarity and justice
Know they protested peacefully
Know they gathered
Know the police responded
Know the police are occupying Ferguson
Know that 20 departments have come into the community
Know they are throwing tear gas at people
Know that they have cut off road ways
Know the police are armed
Know the civilians are still peacefully protesting
Know that White community members have come armed in support of the police
Know that Black community members are only armed by the cameras on their smart phones
Know that the Black conduit for justice will only be Social Media
Know what is happening in Ferguson
Know that there is injustice
Pay attention before the media lies to you and tells you that any deaths from here on out were warranted

Pay Attention to Ferguson →


Please pay attention to what is happening in Ferguson right now.

The people of Ferguson are staging a peaceful protest regarding the unlawful, tragic murder of Mike Brown, and the police are responding with rubber bullets (one man has been injured so far) and tear gas, calling the…

The game “sort of encapsulates something that’s happening in our culture right now,” he explained, “where there’s …[this] ability to sudden[ly] become famous sort of out of nowhere that kind of almost mirrors a lot of what’s happening on the Internet lately.” According to Fanning, the democracy of the Internet makes the game feel more realistic, and therefore more rewarding to play.

I sort of kind of almost said some barely quotable things about Kim Game and The Internet on HuffPo yesterday.

These Men Say The ‘Kim Kardashian: Hollywood’ Game Isn’t Just For Women


Ferguson Police have dogs and shotguns. The unarmed crowd is raising their hands.

For anyone not following the Mike Brown story on Twitter: a 17 year old black boy named Mike Brown, who was supposed to start college tomorrow, was shot to death in Ferguson, Missouri by police while jaywalking. He was unarmed. He was shot 9 times.

Initial media reports claimed that an 18 year old black man had been shot and killed while fleeing police after shoplifting.

People in the neighborhood, including members of Mike Brown’s family, came out of their homes and began to protest, shouting “no justice, no peace,” and keeping their hands in the air.

Media reports claimed that a violent mob quickly formed around the shooting location shouting “kill the police.”

Spread this. Tell the truth about what happened to this boy. Tell the truth about what is happening NOW. The police and the mainstream media is painting him as a criminal, and his community as a violent mob.

SPREAD THIS. Don’t let them lie.

(Source: whatwhiteswillneverknow, via danielleh)

Kevin Fanning says he had to save up “forever” to afford his character Kloaca’s turquoise pixie haircut.

Jess Zimmerman interviewed me for an article about men who play Kim Kardashian Hollywood. It is a very very very fun interview.

The Surprising Reasons Men Love the Kim Kardashian Game | TIME