So far, you’ve written nearly 15,000 words about Eating the Dinosaur. That’s more than you wrote on this blog in all of 2012. Whence comes this newfound verbosity?
A lot of it is probably Modafinil-related. The thing that’s great about this stuff for writing is that, when I sit down to write, I immediately start writing. There isn’t that initial period of trying to gather up all my scattered thoughts and form them into something coherent. If I stop to focus on something else, I can come back and pick right up. Before, if I had an hour to write, I’d spend 30 minutes of the hour just getting my thoughts sorted. And if I stopped for any reason, that’d be it — I’d lose the thread forever.
Also, I find it a lot easier to write a response to something than to just generate thoughts out of nowhere. I like to have something to bounce my brain off of. So, I guess I’m using the Chuck Klosterman book as sort of a writing prompt.
Why did you pick this particular book of essays to discuss? It was published in 2009, so it’s not especially timely. Why not, say, the posthumous collection by David Foster Wallace that came out last fall?
I found I just didn’t have a whole lot to say about either DFW book. They’re entertaining, and Wallace is obviously a fantastic writer, but his essays are like these perfect, hermetically sealed packages. They’re so exhaustive in their coverage of their subjects that I can’t think of any response that wouldn’t be totally superfluous.
Klosterman I think is a messier, looser writer, so when he writes about a topic, you feel like you can also engage with it and respond to his thoughts. I guess he’s more accessible that way. His essays are to DFW’s what blog posts are to academic papers.
Also, it doesn’t hurt that Klosterman’s topics tend to be pretty lowbrow, on the whole, even if his thoughts on them aren’t. I’m ashamed to admit that I probably have more to say about Garth Brooks than I do about the state of the prose poem.
Wallace is an iPhone, and Klosterman is an Android phone?
I know you’ve only covered three out of the book’s thirteen essays so far, but are you happy with what you’ve written so far? Does it look like what you thought it would look like when you started this?[laughs] If I knew beforehand that I was going to end up writing 15,000 words before I even got past a fourth of the book, I would have said fuck this shit. So far I’m averaging one essay a week. At this pace, it’ll be the end of May before I’m done with this thing.
But are you happy with the content so far?
I’m happy with the fact that I’m producing it. It’s been a long time since I’ve written on a regular basis. When you stop writing for a long time, you kind of forget how to write. You sit down and try to compose something, and you can produce sentences, but it’s like the sentences won’t fit together correctly. Forget trying to write anything complex or mentally demanding. I wrote a few things last year that I looked at and thought, “Oh my God…what is that thing…for pity’s sake, put it out of its misery!”
But yeah, I’m OK with what I’m posting so far. I’m putting a lot of work into these pieces. I’m trying to create something that sounds right and has something to say. I’m not as lazy about it as I used to be. Some of them are longwinded as hell, but I’m trying to be true to the topics and also to my style.
Some of the entries probably ask more from the reader than many are willing to give. Like, for instance, this fake interview. As you write these, are you thinking ahow they’ll be received?
I think it’s more like I’m scratching a mental itch by writing these, but as long as I am, I think it’s just polite to make the scratching as coherent and readable as I can. So yeah, I do think about it, but fortunately, there are only, like, five people reading this, and three of them are search engine bots, so the stakes are fairly low.