Chelsea Martin is the author of Everything Was Fine Until Whatever (Future Tense Books) and has a book forthcoming called The Really Funny Thing About Apathy (Sunnyoutside). Her debut is part memoir, sketches of ceiling fans and playful horned creatures, matter of fact surreal vignettes that, as Chelsea says, read “like good television.” Chelsea Martin doesn’t wax, doesn’t mince. You’ll want to read it cover to cover in the first sitting, like I did, then watch it again like a good rerun. She maintains a website at www.jerkethics.com.
David Moscovich: If you could ask yourself a question, what would it be?
Chelsea Martin: I wouldn’t ask questions. I would just yell.
DM: You listed a phone number in your book, Everything Was Fine Until Whatever. If it is your real number, did anyone actually call you? If it’s not real, I wonder what would that conversation be like?
CM: A lot of people text me things like “Is this actually your number” or “I like your book.” It’s nice. I like it. Sometimes someone will call me and it will be someone from the internet and they will be drunk. I don’t really answer my phone as much since I published my number. Also, there are some banks after me for my money because I borrowed a lot of money while I was in school and now I can’t pay it back. So I don’t answer my phone as much for that reason, too.
DM: Do you keep a journal? Do you think it’s influenced your writing style?
CM: I only keep journals when I’m traveling. I feel more visual when I’m carrying a journal. I’m not very visual usually.
DM: How do you describe your writing to people when they ask what genre you write?
CM: It depends on who is asking. If it’s someone I don’t know very well I’ll say ‘poetry’ because the word ‘poetry’ inspires fear and dread in most people and it will usually end the conversation.
DM: When did you write your first story, list, poem, essay?
DM: Do you feel vulnerable writing about very personal things?
CM: No. Sometimes I feel afraid that someone will know that something I’ve written is about them and that they’ll feel bad about it. I don’t want anyone to feel bad. A few weeks ago I was having a hard time with my boyfriend so I sort of wrote about it for a reading, and then my boyfriend came to the reading and I think he felt bad about what I had written, and felt bad that I read it in front of people and that he was there and had to listen to it in front of people. I prefer that things like that don’t happen. But I never feel embarrassed or sad for myself after I’ve written something. I don’t really write or talk about things that I would feel bad about other people knowing.
DM: Is there anything that could stop you from writing?
CM: Yeah, lots of things. I have this new philosophy on life where I just let myself do whatever I want at all times and don’t guilt myself for neglecting other things. There’s really not enough time to do everything I want to do, and I don’t think that writing is necessarily more important than hanging out with someone or listening to rap or drawing or getting drunk or painting my toenails. Still, I don’t think I would ever stop writing completely. It’s a huge source of pleasure.
DM: What are you working on now?
CM: Right now I’m in my friend’s luxury condo penthouse and there’s a terrifying balcony near me and I’m working really hard at not visualizing throwing myself or something important off of it.
DM: Would you list any major influences on your work?
A small selection of rap music
Things that I regret having said to people
Multiplication and division
When someone says something and nobody hears it
DM: Is Everything Was Fine Until Whatever a memoir or is it fiction?
CM: It’s a collection of fiction, nonfiction, nonfiction that has never happened, fiction that might as well have happened, fictionalized interactions between real people, my real phone number, things I can’t remember if they’re fiction or nonfiction, and drawings of real life ceiling fans.
About the author:
David Moscovich is the author of Twenty Drunken Nights and is published in Rain Taxi, Fringe, and others..He released a CD called Ass Lunch(eh? records) on which he performs flash fictions interspersed with invented, improvised tongues.