There’s a kind of gentle irony created in your story between the attempt at union through sexual and romantic acts, and the very internal monologue of the narrative voice, in which it seems a true union can never be achieved; each person brings their own baggage, history, fears and motivation, which unfolds into an immutable separateness. These are heavy themes, but it’s never overwrought, because you achieved a good balance through the use of humour, and a very realistic and down-to-earth physicality.
In that sense, it’s a very disciplined piece of writing, which (impressively) never tilts too far one way or the other. I wonder if you could tell us a little about your process of weaving the mundane with the profound in such a manner?
Firstly, thank you. I’ve never been called ~profound~ before, I’m going to stop shaving and grow out my facial hair now.
I guess how I experience things; I live with anxiety so I’m never really in one moment completely. My head is always going over and re-over things constantly, so when I’m having sex or going for a run or writing, things will just pop up in my head from years ago or yesterday or I’ll think of something that hasn’t happened yet, but that I’ll be worried about happening. Instead of treating that as a distraction or hindrance, I’ve started seeing if I can make connections with those random ideas that pop up during the day. It just kind of happens anyway, so I just want to put that onto the page.
Make ur mental illness work for u, I say.
Some parts of this story are quite raw, and uncompromisingly truthful. Fiction writers have the luxury of obfuscating their presence through the use of character, analogy and metaphor, but it takes a particular courage to write so revealingly in non-fiction – especially in the age of social media, where everyone’s trying to control their identity through careful curation. To that end, I’m curious about your process of crafting story, and what sort of internal conflict you might experience in regards to what goes in and what gets left out?
I remember on my eighteenth birthday I was going out to clubs for the first time and mum turned around and said ‘don’t get abducted’ and without missing a beat dad said, ‘look at him, he’s ridiculous, as if anyone would take him, what are you on Ninette? The only thing you have to worry about is Anthony getting lost on the way home.’
Which is true. I get lost a lot. Vito (my dad) is right in his own, incredibly insensitive way: I’m ridiculous. Everyone is. So I don’t really see the point in having a precious view of myself as a writer or person, I’ll find a way to ruin that pretty quickly. I’ve never really thought about oversharing or getting embarrassed in regards to myself. The only thing I do worry about is how others are portrayed in my work, there is a trap when writing personally to think ‘oh this piece is about me and not about the other people’ which is complete bullshit. I try not to identify people in a way that would make sense to anyone but me and maybe the person I’m writing about but it’s rarely ever verbatim.
I don’t really spend time agonising about myself with regards to my writing, but I do about other people. I’m unabductable—I’ll be fine.
Do you often write non-fiction, and could you touch on your choice to write in this style? If this story had character name changes, and was labelled ‘fiction’, do you think something would be lost?
I pretty much only write non-fiction. Call it narcissism (I do) but I find it so hard to get out of my own head that it’s entirely too much to have other people’s voices in there. I’ve tried writing as other people but I like putting myself out there, and writing as ‘me’. The apostrophes are important there though. When I’m writing, I’m still constructing things and moving them around. So it’s true, but it’s my version of it because that’s all I really have access to.
But I do think something would be lost if it weren’t me writing as myself, ‘myself’. If it weren’t labelled as non-fiction. I never really had a strong, outspoken, honest gay voice to read or listen to growing up. I always wanted to hear what it was really like being gay or queer, so I decided to write it myself. I guess it all just comes from me being over straight dudes talking about how gross gay sex is. It’s like … Mate, I can do it perfectly fine on my own