This is part four of an interview series focusing on how the Internet is changing/improving/destroying the “indie lit” world. Interviews will feature writers, editors, designers and other artists with a web presence. I recently spoke with xTx over gmail chat. Some spelling has been corrected and time stamps have been removed but abbreviations, punctuation and line breaks have been preserved to give an ~accurate account of what conducting an interview online looks like.
Frances Dinger: haha, yeah.
how are you?
xtx: i am good! now that my green light is on i am getting chatted up! yikes!
::changing it to red:::
Frances: good move.
xtx: okay, whew
Frances: you’re on your lunch break, right? what is your day job?
xtx: my day job is [redacted]
Frances: what do you do at the [redacted]? [redacted]? evaluate the [redacted] levels of [redacted]?
xtx: haha.yes. among other things.
Frances: sorry, i’m having trouble deciding which order i want to ask questions in.
xtx: take your time. you have 45 minutes! hee
Frances: i guess i will go ~chronological. you or a convincing actor posing as you appeared at AWP this year. when and why did you decide you were going to ‘reveal’ your identity/prove you are a real, breathing person?
xtx: I don’t know if it was much of a ‘decision’ as it was a compulsion/need. I only knew i wanted to ‘be a part of’ whatever AWP was. I knew I would feel like shit if i didn’t go. Most of all, i wanted to finally meet and hang out with Roxane and Mel. it wasn’t really about proving I ‘existed’. But that sort of happened as a by-product.
Frances: when you started publishing as xTx, did you intend or expect to create a sort of mystery around your persona?
xtx: the xTx thing was a big mistake. it was a ‘handle’ i used on my blog. when i started publishing, i just used it as my ‘name’ because that’s what went by on my blog. then i started getting lots of acceptances and it just went on like that. i didn’t mean for it to be ‘mysterious’ it was just a way i could maintain my perverted blog as ‘private’
Frances: do people in your life offline know about your online life?
Frances: what motivates that divide?
xtx: the need to hide the fucked up shit i post on the internet
i have read at least one other interview with you where you own up to your age but there seemed to be a perception among at least a few of your readers that you were a much younger person. i think this relates to the themes you focus on in your writing. okay, i am trying to ask this question without sounding ageist, but you grew up in a different time with different concerns than some of the other ~power-players in the small press scene. so, why do you connect to your subject matter and when/why did you become interested in the internet as a medium?
does that make sense?
that’s kind of convoluted.
xtx: hmm..big question..let’s see
Frances: sorry, i threw a lot out at once.
xtx: i discovered blogging back in 2002 and that’s really what lit my fire. like, fuck, you mean i can type WHATEVER I WANT and people can read it?!?!? it was EVERYTHING I HAD BEEN LOOKING FOR at that time in my life. so, that answers that question. 2002.
as far as connecting to my subject matter…well, i have various kinds of subject matter, and i think a lot of it is universal. i don’t think age has a lot to do with it other than maybe one’s direct experience with those themes.
Frances: your chapbook and your latest book have both been published as printed books and as e-books. what kind of relationship do you see between print and digital publications? do you have a greater attachment to either medium?
xtx: i guess if i had to pick one, i’d pick print. but as long as there is a way for my words to get read, even if it’s on bathroom stall walls or skywritten, cave painted, telephone pole flyers, i don’t really care. digital is obvs taking over the world, so we’ll all roll with it like we do now with our ipods and how we mock tape players and Beta maxes.
Frances: do you think print will disappear completely in your lifetime?
xtx: i hope not. and no. i don’t think it will.
Frances: should e-books and printed books be treated as wholly separate mediums?
xtx: well, they sort of are different mediums….so maybe, yes, they should. but they are the same in a sense so, i really have no good answer here.
Frances: that’s fine. i don’t think anyone does yet.
xtx: everyone’s trying to figure it out
Frances: what motivates you to write?
xtx: oh, geez. um, how does one describe the need to dance or fuck or rub their face in butter?
what is the name for that?
that’s what motivates me.
whatever does those things
the need to express myself.
put my insides on the outside
Frances: do you have any attachment to the idea of being an American writer? do you think the internet is making those kinds of national concerns less relevant for artists?
xtx: i don’t have that attachment. i really don’t think about ‘national concerns’ when it comes to writing. i don’t like boxes. i like writing. i like reading good writing. where it comes from and who it comes from is secondary (to me)
Frances: is there anything culturally that affects your writing? alternatively, broader: what influences your writing?
informs is better than influences
xtx: i stay ‘close to home’ when being influenced. i don’t really watch news or am concerned with the world at large. and i feel bad that i am like this, but whatever. i am more influenced by feelings, or phrases or instances or ideas…what if’s. so, no real cultural influences
Frances: how do you create a space in which you can write?
emotionally or physically
xtx: i create it wherever and whenever i can…both emotionally and physically. i dont have lot of free time and i am pulled in a lot of different directions in my life, so i’ve had to train myself to be able to write wherever and however. longhand in a car, on a laptop with a roomful of people around me, at work between emails, etc.
it’s not ideal. but it is what it is
Frances: it’s maybe not ideal but it seems good that you have a real life too.
xtx: i think everything needs balance. i have to pry myself away from my smartphone and my computer constantly because it scares me how much i am addicted to ‘checking’ things. it’s not healthy
Frances: what does it take to create that balance?
xtx: discipline. mostly. i guess.
Frances: i recently discovered an app called SelfControl. electronics imposed balance. anyway. what excites you about being a writer in this time? is the prevalence of technology changing the concerns of artists/humans?
xtx: In this time? I guess i know of writing in no other time than ‘now’. New technology is always exciting and the good thing about the internet and instant publishing is it gets you read so very quickly and widely. You can gain an exposure that wasn’t there before. You can also READ others with the same convenience. Does THAT excite me about being a writer? No. Writing excites me about being a writer. That’s my main excitement. Anything else is secondary.
Frances: i’ll wrap it up since we’re running out of time. what’s next after Normally Special?
xtx: Good question. I have no idea. I might be doing a fun little chapbook with two awesome whores that i like very much. Other than that I will continue plugging along at this thing that might/could be a book one day.
Frances: thanks for talking with me and putting up with overly broad questions
xtx: hahaha. it was nice. thanks for interviewing me.
i hope i wasn’t too dumb.
Frances: not at all