The Write Stuff: Alexandra Naughton on Cultivating a Lit Community and Billy Corgan Time-Travel
The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.
When people ask what do you do, you tell them ... ?
"I write," then I ask a question and change the subject.
What's your biggest struggle -- work or otherwise?
Doubting myself, also shyness.
If someone said, "I want to do what you do," what advice would you have for them?
I would tell them that if they want to do something then they should just go for it, paying no mind to anyone who says it isn't possible. I started my zine not knowing anyone in the San Francisco literary community or having any sort of connections, but I kept at it and now after two years it's starting to pick up steam. Persistence. I don't necessarily know what I'm doing, but I persist nonetheless.
Do you consider yourself successful? Why?
Not really. I like what I'm doing but I always feel like I could be doing more, and doing it better. That's probably normal though, right?
When you're sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?
Katey Red all day. I can watch this over and over:
Do you have a favorite ancestor? What is his/her story?
My Granddad on my dad's side grew up on a farm in Ireland, moved to England and started bartending, then moved to Philadelphia to start his family. He had a bar on South Street where he dealt with Philly's underbelly: gamblers, prostitutes, junkies, gangsters. He had the gift of gab, as in the Irish tradition, and just taking a walk down the street with him to pick up some milk could take hours, as he'd stop to talk with and tell stories to everyone he saw and knew. I wish I had his way with words.
Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?
I was obsessed with Calvin and Hobbes. I wanted to be a paleontologist.
Describe your week in the wilderness. It doesn't have to be ideal.
Shacking up at the Evil Dead cabin.
Would you ever perform a striptease? Describe some of your moves. Feel free to set the mood.
I tried once and I failed miserably because I felt ridiculous and couldn't stop laughing, but another time I did manage to give my friend Brooke a fully clothed lap dance to the song "I'm a Player" by The KGB. I kinda just danced around her and occasionally jumped in her lap and kicked my legs up in the air for dramatic effect. That was fun.
What's wrong with society today?
Too much selfishness and self-centeredness and not enough self-awareness and empathy.
How many times do you fall in love each day?
I fall in love with moments and weird little things I come across all the time, like a strategically placed sticker on a street sign or snippets of overheard conversation.
When you have sex, what are some of the things you like to do?
Hmmmm. I'm not much of an exhibitionist, and this is a pretty personal question, so I'll just say that when I have sex I like to be in love with the person with whom I am having sex. And have my hair pulled.
What are you working on right now?
I'm writing a book of poems for Billy Corgan titled I Will Always Be Your Whore and the next issue of my art/lit zine, BE ABOUT IT. The last issue was fantastic, featuring work from lit superstars Amy Berkowitz, Kimberly Kim, Jesse Prado, Ivy Johnson, Tom Comitta, Matthew Sherling, and many others.
What kind of work would you like to do? Or: what kind of writing do you most admire?
I like writing that is motivational. Not in the sense of self-help, but writing that inspires me to write. Also, deceptively simple song lyrics.
If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?
Besides the astronomical cost of living? A longer, warmer summer would be nice.
A night on the town, what does that mean to you?
It's a weekday night. We leave the house at midnight, go to an all-night diner for shared milkshake and fries, and then we take a long walk around the city while everyone else is sleeping, maybe stopping every once in a while to make out on a bench or stoop.
What's the strangest thing you've ever seen?
A woman opening a jar of sealed pasta sauce in Safeway, sniffing the contents, then putting it back on the shelf. Probably not the strangest thing I've ever seen, but it's the strangest thing I've seen recently.
What can you do with 50 words? $50?
I haven't had a haircut in over a year, so I could use $50 to get my ends trimmed (they need it). With 50 words I can tell you a creepy story.
What are some of your favorite smells?
My hair when I use herbal shampoo, summer rain in Philly when it hits the asphalt and starts steaming, my cat.
If you got an all expenses paid life experience of your choice, what would it be?
It would be pretty rad to go on a cross-country expedition to visit every ghost town and historic graveyard in the United States. If we can bring time travel into this, I wouldn't mind getting to see the Smashing Pumpkins circa 1996 perform live.
For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook. This interview conducted by Janey Smith. Follow Litseen at @Litseen.