The Write Stuff: Lizzy Acker on Being the Most Successful Person in the Universe
The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen writers, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.
Lizzy Acker is something of a legend for her distinctive blend of awkward self-comedy and absurdity, captured so well in her collection of stories Monster Party and in her pop culture writing for KQED, for whom she also does digital marketing.
What's your biggest struggle -- work or otherwise?
Cute boys. Even though I am 30 I find them incredibly distracting. Without them, I could probably be a millionaire genius presidential candidate by now or at least a lawyer.
If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?
Do you consider yourself successful? Why?
Heck yes. I have a job that pays me bi-weekly to do something that doesn't result in my physical pain or the physical pain of others. I eat at least three times every day. I get to write. I recently turned 30, which means I made it, alive, to age 30. And sometimes I go into bookstores and see a book I WROTE ON THE SHELVES. Not to brag, but I might be the most successful person in the universe.
When you're sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?
Do you have a favorite ancestor? What is his/her story?
I have two great-great grandpas on different sides that died by falling off roofs. They together are my favorite ancestor because they remind me that the world used to be a place with a lot fewer safety regulations and also, since I am genetically predisposed to roof death, I should let someone else do the re-shingling.
Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?
Interestingly enough there is video footage of me answering one of these questions when I was 10. I wanted to be the President of the United States. I think the main person I admired was my cousin Erica who was our nanny for a while. She was very cool and listened to good music and read us hilarious stories and was basically the person I wanted to be like in every way. She still is one of my favorite human beings.
Describe your week in the wilderness. It doesn't have to be ideal.
I dream of weeks in the wilderness. I would actually like a year in the wilderness and I would like the wilderness to be like Island of the Blue Dolphins. I would learn to catch fish and start fires without matches. I would have a trusty dog friend who protected me against marauders. I might want a boy to be my sidekick, after a month or so. Actually, with the right sidekick I could live on Island of the Blue Dolphins forever.
Would you ever perform a striptease? Describe some of your moves. Feel free to set the mood.
In my entire life no one has ever asked me to perform a striptease but maybe that's because it's the sort of thing you just do without being asked? I grew up without a TV so I am not very good at being sexy. However, I would happily do a striptease pretty much whenever. It would have to be Wiz Khalifa's "Black and Yellow" though because I would need to get pumped up and that song makes me feel like a champion.
How much money do you have in your checking account?
What's wrong with society today?
Nobody just shows up at your house anymore and wants to play soccer in the backyard.
Are you using any medications? If so, which ones?
I use the same face medication for acne I've been using for years. Now that I am 30, maybe I can stop?
What is your fondest memory?
Currently: New Year's Day 2012. One of my favorite people took me surfing in Santa Cruz after the worst New Year's of this millennium. It was a beautiful day. We ended up in the middle of Monarch migration, standing in a cloud of butterflies.
How many times do you fall in love each day?
I've only fallen in love twice in my life so you do the math.
What would you like to see happen in your lifetime?
What is art? Is it necessary? Why?
Art is anything that tries to explain what it means to be human. And yeah, that's hella necessary because being human is hard.
What are you working on right now?
When people ask me that, I generally lie to them and say I am "working on my book about when I lived in Africa when I was 16 and 17." That isn't true because what I am really working on is watching every episode of every TV show ever to be found on the Internet, so I don't have time. I am also working on finding a way to have time to work on my book about Africa, which would involve at least a year off of work and a beach, preferably in Mexico, with no Internet access.
What kind of work would you like to do?
I wish I could write novels. Like those really good novels that when you are reading them you totally forget where you are and your house maybe burns down and your kids all starve to death but you don't notice because you actually exist in another dimension. People who can do that are gods and wizards.
A night on the town, what does that mean to you?
If it's night time and I am out on the town that probably means I forgot to eat dinner and went to happy hour and now there is no going back. Either that or I was just at a wedding. All I do any more is go to weddings.
What's the strangest thing you've ever seen?
I think I have lived in San Francisco too long because I can't think of ever seeing anything strange.
What can you do with 50 words? 50 dollars?
50 words: like at least 3 amazing tweets. 50 dollars: a very fancy dinner, all to myself.
What are some of your favorite smells?
I like Old Spice, Night Blooming Jasmine, Earl Grey, pretty much anything an old lady would like.
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