When did you first feel like a writer?
I never really have felt like a writer. I recognize that is what I do. But it doesn’t feel that way. It began at a very early age. I was not yet diagnosed as having schizophrenia or schizoaffective (I have since been diagnosed with both) but from childhood, I would speak with “people” who were not there. One of these “people” was a figure with a shadowy, obscured face who later would become what one may consider my muse. This being is known as Vate C. Carmen and tells me what to write.
What’s the most interesting thing that has inspired your writing and what was the result?
Not meaning to in too much detail about anything personal, but it is the events of my existence. My day-to-day sufferings with my disease that inspires me. My writing is all highly autobiographical. It is whatever “Vate” feels must be explored for the sake of survival. The result always has been something vital for me. Whether working in poetry or prose. My Trilogy Symphoniya de Toska for example was written in an attempt—a successful attempt—to avoid suicide. I did not wish for my ideation to develop into tendency. The fact that I wrote myself into a state of survival was somewhat of a profound result.
Paint us a picture: what does your writing process look like? Do you write in coffee shops at night or only on an old type-writer?
I don’t believe there is much of anything to illustrate as far as my process is concerned. I spend a maximum of 15 minutes at a time sitting in front of the keyboard. If anything which I am working on takes longer than 15 minutes to complete, “Vate” will tell me to throw it away. And I always do. This is true only of poetic works. But when I am writing prose, if it takes longer than 15 minutes to put down a single paragraph, the whole passage is deleted and “Vate” will start over. In the new book—the prose poetical piece on which I currently am focused, it is taking anywhere between forty-five seconds to two minutes to write every paragraph. I am not walking away from the keyboard at this point in my narrative of this new novel, which is titled The Doctors. I am more inclined to skip gleefully away from the computer with every finished paragraph. Sometimes a particularly strong sentence will construct itself through “Vate’s” voice, and I will walk away for a few moments before proceeding. Each line is so carefully constructed and requires a great deal of care.
Describe your ideal reader. Who would you work speak to?
I really do not know the answer to that question. To me it implies there is such a thing as a bad reader. Which just is not true. Anybody can read my work, I feel. And each person who reads it tends to find a different meaning. I say all the time the individual interpretation(s) of each poem or prose work is correct. No reader is wrong in what they believe my work is about. So…I suppose in answer to your inquiry I would say my ideal reader is anybody who wants to read me. My only real wish in all of this is for the work to be read. It does not matter, and never has mattered to me who is reading my work. All that matters is that it in fact is being read.
Who’s an author you’ve changed your mind about, and why?
I could say that I have developed some slight—well, to be honest—some rather great disappointment in J.K. Rowling with her anti-trans statements. But I do not wish to make any political statements here. Speaking though as someone whose life continuously has been saved from self-destruction by the astonishing art of transgender artist (and my greatest influence as a Literary Artist) Anna-Varney Cantodea of Sopor Aeternus and the Ensemble of Shadows and due to personal aspects of my own life and history that I wish not to go into publicly, I am not very pleased to see anybody (regardless of their status in the literary world) speak out so harshly towards the trans community. Again, I do not wish to make any political statements. I merely am answering your question as honestly as I am able, and my answer is that people like J.K. Rowling need to mind their business and stop acting like transgenderism is any way their business. You cannot say you are an ally of a whole group of people and then turn around and speak prejudicial nonsense of this sort. It not only is ridiculous, but it also goes to ridiculous lengths. And the underlying thing here that I cannot emphasize enough is that it is nobody’s business what clothes someone decides to wear or what they do with their own anatomy. J.K. Rowling needs to mind her own business, and I excruciatingly am disappointed in every facet of what she has turned out to be. That it turns out she really was all along. All that money has not bought her a soul.
If you could interview any writer/artist who would it be, and why?
Anna-Varney Cantodea. And that is not so much an interview thing. It is my personal answer to the age-old question of: “If you could sit on a park bench with anybody, living or dead who would it be?” At the same time, I believe I may shy away from such an honor. I do not feel that I am at a point in my maturity to where I would not be annoying in her presence. However, that is a conversation I hope to have someday. There are things I wish to speak with her about. And for now, I choose to be silent and not bother her.
What motivates you to keep writing?
The need to survive. If I did not have writing, I would have no means to exist. The two times when “Vate” was in total silence were the two occasions on which I attempted to commit suicide. It not only saves my life, but it also serves to save my sanity. Those who know me artistically may doubt my sanity—and with good reason. But the insanity displayed in my work that keeps me alive and the insanity that would land me into an asylum are two vastly different things.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
When it comes to writer’s block, I do not feel much in any way that writer’s block truly exists. There are just things that you are ready to write, and things that you may not be ready for. Usually when an idea is not coming to you it simply is because that idea, or concept–whatever it is you are trying to work on, or whatever message you wish to convey is simply not mature yet. Don’t be scared of not being able to put something down–things come out when they want and as they please. I was just telling somebody in fact about The Doctors manuscript that I am working on now. I sat on that idea for nearly a year. When I write a novel, I sit on it for as long as possible. Some may view it as procrastination. I view it more as percolation. You have to not only allow your ideas to formulate. You must also allow them to mature. The Doctors Manuscript, by the way, is available for free chapter-by-chapter on my DeviantArt page. I decided to share it as I write it while I work on it. In an unedited formula also so that my readers (as well as my students) can get a glimpse into the writing process. But I must reiterate: I do not procrastinate so much as percolate. I know it takes time for an idea to craft itself and to construct itself in my mind. Vate creates the wording yes, but it is my responsibility to build the thing in its entirety. And waiting, allowing the ideas to form and mature is the best policy. In my opinion. When it comes to poetry, I feel much the same way: That there never is really a block. Just an idea that isn’t ready.
Where would you like to see yourself in a decade?
I do not know precisely where I would like to see myself in the next decade. I would like to get some traveling in. I would like to see myself gather a larger audience over the course of the next decade. I do not anticipate a mass, raving following. But I do wish for a faithful one. I do wish for an audience that reads and enjoys my work and forumulates their own opinions as to what each piece that I compose may mean. I’d like that to sort of accumulate over the next ten years. I will say that fame and fortune are not all that interesting to me. But gaining a good, attentive audience is important. I am always excited to hear from people who have kind things to say about my writing. They all are such lovely individuals. That is the sort of thing that I like: individuals with individual interpretations of my work. I would like to see The Doctors published in a professional format as well. That is something I hope for. Perhaps for somebody to come along and read it and decide they want to represent it with the offering of a professional editor. That is about all I can think of as far as where I would like to be… perhaps not within the next ten years. That is more an immediate desire. But by the end of these next ten years, I suppose the only thing I would truly like is to be writing things that I never possibly could have thought of now.
What has your work taught you about yourself?
If my work has taught me a single thing about myself, it is that I am a sad and lonely person. And I do not mean that I require the company of others to thrive. I am always lonely: even when in the presence of other people. In fact, it is quite often that I am lonelier when others are near. I would not consider myself introverted. But I also would not consider myself extroverted. I simply am a lonely person. I am nobody special. I am a person suffering from a mental illness who just happens to have some talent. I had the luxury at a very early age of discovering that I held some slight possession to an ability with the English language. I chose to nurture that, and now I am here. If I learned anything about myself through my literary endeavors, it is that I do not belong here. I am not ahead of anybody else. I simply am from another place and do not belong where I am currently. The reality in which others exist, and in which I am unfortunate enough to inhabit sometimes will attempt to catch up with me, but I have always been faster. It also has taught me that I miss him…