Hi there! And welcome to Tons of Imaginary Money’s non-imaginary stop on this totally real and amazing blog tour!
So many thanks to my lovely and talented friend and fellow traveler, the one and only Elizabeth Greenwood, for tapping me in. Read her latest piece on PI Steven Rambam in Esquire and GET EXCITED for her amazing nonfiction book on the subject of death fraud, Playing Dead: the Art and Folly of Pseudocide, forthcoming from Simon & Schuster. I can personally guarantee that the book is incredible, having had the pleasure of reading various chapters in draft form.
Liz is exactly who I want to be when I grow up: intrepid, sophisticated, hilarious, bubbly, and brilliant. She is proof positive that blondes have more fun!
While waiting to blossom into a more Liz-like person, I spend my days trafficking in mostly harmless gossip, weeping over car commercials, and hijacking the conversation at summer BBQs (oh, did you want to talk about movies? that’s too bad, cause I’ve been reading about sexual assault on college campuses!).
Next week you’ll hear from the uber-creative Chase Hamilton, deep thinker, jack of all trades, and organizer of a new literary contest. Check out his bio below!
Chase Hamilton is an amateur science fiction writer. Chase’s newest venture is not so much a blog but a new take on writing contests-slash-online magazines. The idea for the contest is rooted in a short story that has yet to be completed as the writer decided to work on the contest in real life. The contest will rely on crowd-sourced voting to determine the winner. Chase’s site is thepencilcup.com.
And check out my answers to the Blog Tour mini-questionnaire below, which is designed to introduce you to Raina Lipsitz (the worse half of TOIM’s editorial team).
I also co-edit this very blog, Tons of Imaginary Money, with my college roommate, Anne Blackfield. Anne is a lawyer with an M.Div who runs Interagency Affairs at the Maryland Department of Disabilities and is one of the smartest, funniest, most all-around awesome people I’ve ever met. The blog was her idea. We’ve both written for it and we’ve also published other lady writers we like (plus a post or two from Anne’s husband, Jake). The original concept was to tell (and get other people to tell) short stories about our/their lives.
I’d love to write a book someday, but I’m waiting for the right idea to come along. And right now I really enjoy writing this column for Al Jazeera.
2) How does your work differ from others’ works in the same genre?
What I like to call my feminist rants for Al Jazeera are often angrier and more polemical than other, more cautious forms of feminist writing. The AJ column is a great outlet for my rage and indignation about the state of the world, especially since I can’t rant at all in my day job.
I have a bit of a contrarian streak and an extremely low tolerance for piousness and political correctness. I like to think I’m deeply committed to social justice and not at all to protecting sacred cows. But I think most people on the left see themselves that way and I’m probably giving myself way too much credit.
The writers I really admire who work in the same genre include Katha Pollitt and Rebecca Traister, both of whom write thoughtfully about sex, gender, and politics and pepper their essays with carefully crafted windows into their personal lives. Their personal touch lends depth and power to their political arguments. They’re both also very funny, even, or maybe especially, when their subject is serious.
In no way am I comparing myself to him, but I am also a huge admirer of James Baldwin, who was able to turn his passion and rage into something focused and forceful and true that changed the world for the better.
I try to be personal, informative, and entertaining in my column, but I don’t succeed as often as I’d like. Wit, rhythm, and tone are as important to me as facts and ideas.
3) Why do you write what you do?
I grew up reading Katha Pollitt’s column in The Nation and could not imagine a more interesting or fulfilling way to spend my time. I love being creative and coming up with new ideas and compelling ways to express them. And I love writing but my talents don’t lie in fiction. I’ve always cared about politics, ideas, and activism and right now I get to express my activism through my writing, which for me is a double privilege and really thrilling (though of course I’d like to do it on an even grander scale). Ego is a huge motivator as well: I love writing for an audience that’s (slightly) larger than my family and friends; I love seeing my name in print; I love being a participant, in my own minor, limited way, in the larger discussions of our time.
The personal writing I do for places like Nerve is more of a form of therapy—my way of working out feelings about an ex and seeking solace, support, and a sense of community from other women (and some men). That doesn’t always work so well—mostly when you’re a woman writing about sex, you just get labeled an attention-seeking whore with Daddy issues—but it can be comforting to hear from readers who’ve had similar experiences. Writing is certainly a form of attention-seeking, at least if you’re doing it with the intent to publish, but I don’t think it’s always unhealthy to crave attention. Most writers start out as lonely little nerds and feel deeply alienated at some (or multiple) point(s) in their lives.
4) How does your writing process work?
Next question! But seriously: it’s hard to adhere to a strict writing schedule with a full-time day job (sadly for me, I’m not Toni Morrison). When I care enough about a particular piece I’m reasonably good at planting myself in front of my laptop for 12-18 hours and switching back and forth between my work for Catalyst and my work on my column. I do at least a little work on most evenings and weekends. I’m not as disciplined as I could or should be and I need lots of social time and also some time just to read and/or mess around on the Internet. The key for me is to find a topic or idea that really excites me. You can’t just wait around for inspiration to strike, but I also don’t believe in writing X number of words per day at X time no matter what. Sometimes when you feel like you don’t have anything new or interesting to say, or you can’t figure out a new or interesting way to say it, it’s better to go meet a friend for a drink.