Interview by Amien Essif
Dear faithful yet demanding Gazine readership,
This interview was written as a standard interview with a very famous writer. Since I was an idiot and tried to record his response without telling him (then asking his permission later) everything fell apart. I blew the proverbial it.
Of course, when I was recording, it seemed like a good idea. I was in one of those moods when the world seems like a movie you’re watching and only a little scared of, always looking to steal a piece of the good stuff and then go wave it around…
Anyway, when I wrote to this famous writer’s personal assistant Ms. S——, asking for permission to reprint our conversation (and I included passages in the email), she called me a day later on my cell phone and asked, “Did you record this interview?” I paused for a little, enjoying the whole pallet of regretful feelings. I admitted that I did, without mentioning that my recorder was concealed in my chest pocket.
“Okay. Well, D—— thought that was kind of strange. He didn’t know you were recording. So for that reason we’re going to have to decline, you know. I’m sorry…”
She really did sound sorry. And like I’ve already said, I felt like an idiot.
But I’m not that sorry, because I’m still going to reprint it! Except without his name. But all the important elements remain intact, I think.
And if you get nothing out of it, then consider it a study in how important a name is.
As I stand in line at U—– Bookstore in L—— waiting to talk to D——, I’m having a hard time thinking of the perfect question to ask him for The Gazine. (With a budget of nil, this is often how we approach celebrities.) I clear my mind of everything but a large red question mark and then I let the name D—– slip in, hoping the second thing to come to me will be the one question I’ve always wanted to ask him. It is: Dear Mr.—— do you ever sleep?
Well, I didn’t put it exactly like that, but shit: The author of [#] books; the founder of M——, The —— magazine, and the non-profit ——; the series editor of ——; and seemingly always on speaking tours, D—- makes me suspicious. Did he learn some dark art to turn his fabric-of-time into spandex while the rest of us tug at burlap?
I inch forward over the course of a bookstore-hour and the question polishes itself inside my head, finally taking the form of something worthy of the man I am about to meet. The following is a Gazine-exclusive micro-interview with the humble author and genie whom the New York Times calls “——” and the Chicago Reader calls “——.”
Gazine: My name’s Amien. I don’t really have anything for you to sign.
Gazine: I thought maybe I could ask you a question?
Gazine: So I’m kind of struggling with how much of writing is networking and how much is contemplation. I’m really a Luddite, but after coming to Chicago, my friends are like, “Get a Twitter. Get a Facebook.”
D: I don’t think the writing has anything to do with that. I think getting the word out once you’ve written something, maybe. I mean I don’t have a Twitter or a Facebook myself but our company does. M—– is a little company but we use [social media]. And I think getting the word out about this [event] was all through that. But I don’t think you need it until you have something in hand that you want people to read. Until then, you need to get off those things to concentrate so you can get a book written.
Gazine: It could interfere, right?
D: Yeah, I don’t have internet access at home for that reason.
Gazine: Oh, wow. Yeah, I grew up without it.
D: Well, I think that’s good. I don’t know, for me I need no distractions. So I can’t have any of those distractions in the house in order to get any writing done. But when you’ve written that perfect thing and then it’s time to get the word out, maybe that’s the time. But don’t worry about it for right now, you know? For people your age it’s harder to find that quiet time, that concentration—I call them “——”—to really be able to have a long, sustained bit of focus, I guess. And all those things take away from it.
Gazine: Ha! “——.”
D: Yeah! “——.”
Gazine: I’ll think about that next time I sit down.
D: Yeah, give yourself that time. And don’t worry about the other stuff till later.
Gazine: Thanks a lot. That was really helpful.
D: Yeah, nice to see you. Thanks for coming by.
Gazine: Take it easy.