Q & A with Vanessa Place

Snippets from a video interview with Vanessa Place (http://www.lesfigues.com).
Watch the full video interview at http://vimeo.com/30613814


RAG: What does your physical work space look like?
Vanessa: The primary place where I work is a small office. It’s painted a very dark, almost black, green. There’s two computer monitors. Many books and a very small-ish, overstuffed, gold-colored couch, and a red chair that I sit in. And a lot of papers. But I think the primary thing about it is that it’s very dark. For me, the more I can narrow my field of vision, the better.

RAG: Do you have to be in a specific state of mind to write?
Vanessa: I think that I had to learn by force, but I think that if you can skip the “by force” part it’s very useful. Writing to me is…it’s work. And you have a time that you start working and time that you need to stop for whatever reason. Whatever amount of work you do in that work time is fine.

RAG: Which themes do you prefer to write and why do you feel it’s important to address them?
Vanessa: I think the question would be: are themes important? If so, what themes are important to you, and how can you write about them without ever mentioning them? Once you figure that out, because those are the themes that are important, not just in your writing, but in your existence, and the more you can work around them without touching them directly as if they’re some great sleeping creatures, some sort of predatory entity that you have to live with, so you don’t actually want to provoke them, but they’re always present, so the more one can decide what those are, because what mine are, are of interest to me, but by in and of themselves, there’s only a fistful of themes that we all have, in and of themselves, they’re not terribly interesting, but what you do with them becomes interesting. So, rather than me saying what mine are, I think the question should become for people to say, “What are my themes? What are my motifs?” If you look at everybody’s writing, or their art practice, as if they’re telling you their dream, which is far more interesting than them actually telling you their dream, then you can sort of see the themes that they’re exploring, and then look at your own practice the same way.

RAG: How important are writing communities? Should they be important to writers?
Vanessa: You can never talk about should because they are–they are not important. They appear to be very important to many people; like hats–you feel the need to wear hats, it’s a very important thing. It’s funny to me in that I am considered to be, and consider myself to be, a part of a practice, a certain kind of writing. I don’t look at it particularly as a community, in as much as I look at it as a system of affinities. I like the system of affinities. I’m kind of anti-community in the sense that community is usually used, but I suspect that comes from…it comes from coming from a place from which community has not led to happy things. So my feeling is that, to go back to the idea of what is important to one, if it is important to someone to have community, then by all means they should have it, and they should find it, and if they can’t find it, they should make one. For myself, I prefer to see what happens around me and do what I do in the sense of making bricks, and what people do with the bricks, and what they build with the bricks when I’m done is their business and not mine.