Saturday, January 23, 2021

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Lily Wang

Lily Wang (@liliecup) is the author of Saturn Peach out now with Gordon Hill Press.

1 - How did your first book or chapbook change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?
My first chapbook introduced me to so many people, friends. I still remember how I felt at the launch, the shirt I wore. I remember standing in the cold, sharing one slice of strawberry cake. (I was so nervous I sang the whole way there.) The first time I heard it myself (that everyone in your dream was you) I ran into the subway. Hot wind rushed at me and I felt enormous.

Saturn Peach is my first book, Everyone in Your Dream is You was my first chapbook. I was unhappy with how long the publication took, because I feel disingenuous promoting a past self, because I've changed, but I can't judge the past retroactively. What is "good" writing? What do we judge "good" by? The past always has something to offer.

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?
I came to fiction first.

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?
I write short stories in hours and poems in minutes and I abandon them as quickly, I abandon myself. I'm trying not to do that. I've been trying really hard to be patient. It's just that everything I write takes my whole life. I had to live my entire life just to get here, to write this. I already gave my entire life. True, true. False also. Hard to answer writing related questions. It's not static. If we could sit down together I'd shrug. I reply a lot with my eyebrows and my shoulders. English is not my first language.

4 - Where does a poem usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?
On the train. Often in transit, listening to music, trying to sleep or looking at a tree. Projects materialize themselves to me after I've already begun on them.

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?

Counter because I do not write to perform and I do not like the attention. Doing readings opened my mind. Some writers like to tell you that writing is the loneliest thing. Sure. I write through some of the hardest times of my life, alone. But writing, getting published, being invited to do public readings, the privilege of attention, that's community. I enjoy it! I enjoy drinking with my friends, weeping.

6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
I ask burning questions such as, "why me" or "why do I have to grow up". Currently I am thinking about repetition.

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?
Well I really like Auerbach's Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature.

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
I need someone to tell me when I'm wrong.

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
Write the story first, worry about the details later. Maybe Stephen King said this?

10 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?
I live and sometimes I write.

11 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
Poets! Anne Carson, Yanyi, Richard Siken. My friends, Sanna Wani, Harrison Wade. Tumblr... I'm not ashamed. TUMBLR.

12 - What fragrance reminds you of home?
I am sensitive to smells and do not like them.

13 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?
Anything that can make me feel anything! Movies, music, nature, definitely nature. Video games! Memory. The colour orange. Oh but now I'm caught in time again, pawing at lost things.

14 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?
Most of the poems in Saturn Peach were written while I was in undergrad. I am always reacting to readings. I think constantly of Auerbach and of doors. Snow is important to me. I read my friend's text messages.

15 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
Ollie over an object! Even just a stick, lying flat.

16 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?
I wanted to be a comedian. I'm a bad person, but not that bad.

17 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?
Pencil. (Joke)

18 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?

Toni Morrsion's Sula. The Exorcist.

19 - What are you currently working on?
Unfortunately still working on getting my moving ollies down! Also writing a horror novel for my "Master's Thesis". I could have simply said "horror novel" without saying "thesis" but I chose not to.

12 or 20 (second series) questions;

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