Thought Catalog

Interview With Megan Boyle, Lit Girl

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Megan Boyle is the author of Selected Unpublished Blog Posts of a Mexican Panda Express Employee, a book of unfinished blog posts published by Muumuu House in November. I read her manuscript on a PDF file on my cell phone.

Thought Catalog: Do you at all consider yourself a feminist?

MB: Not really. I don’t think I think as much about differences between men and women as ‘feminists’ do. It seems crazy to me to think that some people get paid less than others just because they were born with equipment to grow another person inside of them. It also seems crazy to me to think half of the world is conspiring to oppress the other half by creating products like lipstick.

TC: When did you start getting involved with online literature? What attracted you to it? How did you start sharing yourself with people?

MB: In late 2007 I read “Bed” by Tao Lin and went to his blog and found other blogs and online literary magazines and ebooks. When I think about what attracted me I just have an image of a vague mass of bright colors and really small text, like my brain is trying to recreate the design of bearparade.com or something. I liked bearparade.com. I liked the feeling of finding stuff that seemed to have been there for a long time without me knowing about it. It seemed like a lot of people were writing about life without trying to make it sound better or more interesting than it was, or pretend they didn’t feel depressed or bored or lonely. That attracted me. People wrote about looking at the internet instead of all the cool stuff they did when they weren’t at their computers, so it was like there was an automatic empathy starting point because I was just sitting at my computer too. I made my blog in October 2008 and started commenting on other people’s blogs and gradually submitting my writing to places.

TC: Did the book start out as a journal? Do you write like that usually, or did you take on styles for it that were conscious toward a goal?

MB: They’re all blog drafts. I’m not aware of writing in a different style right now than I did while writing the book, but I’m thinking about different things now. I think my style or the nature of what I’d disclose in each entry depended on whatever I was feeling when I wrote it.

TC: How do you think of yourself in relation to “literature” as a whole? Do you ever struggle with the thought of wanting to write more narratively (i.e. traditionally)? Does it feel really good to be able to publish something like this?

MB: I don’t really think about myself in relation to literature as a whole, other than being involved in it because I wrote a book. I don’t struggle with wanting to write more narratively/ traditionally, I do that sometimes. It feels good to get this published, yeah. I’m glad my first book is a bunch of stuff I originally thought wasn’t good enough for anyone to see.

TC: Do you feel like you’re learning aspects of your subconscious when you write or do you think that you mainly alleviate yourself of conscious thought?

MB: Sometimes I tell myself if I write something my brain won’t need to remember it and then I’ll have more room for whatever the part of me that thinks it needs to make room by creating memory space thinks that space will get filled with someday. I think writing makes it possible to reflect on my thoughts faster and from a less-entangled perspective than if I was just letting myself think things.

TC: Give a vaguely brief biographical portrait of yourself (where you grew up, what college was like for you, when you decided you wanted to be a writer, etc.).

MB: I grew up in a suburb of Baltimore. I went to four colleges in six years and spent the longest amount of time at DePaul in Chicago. Mostly took psychology, writing, and philosophy courses. Pretty sure anything else I could list about my history in a short space would sound similar to what 60-80% of people in their twenties who lived in suburbs and went to colleges in the U.S. might list. I started focusing on writing pretty hard a year and a half ago.

TC: Do you listen to music while you write?

MB: Rarely, I mostly do it to drown out other noise. Sometimes I wear headphones but don’t play music, to feel ‘plugged in’ to something. That seems like a pretty cool trick.

TC: How much do you read?

MB: 2-5 books a month if I’m in a ‘reading a lot’ period, which I’m not currently. I read things on the internet every day.

TC: Do you feel better about your life having published a book?

MB: I’m happy when I think about it. I think every day I’m either feeling better or worse about my life.

TC: I think it kind of feels simple to imagine your style of writing, because it’s about the mundane and ultra-specific details of life, as not being very inspired or transcendent or any of those words you might attach to something like a Kerouac novel or Herman Hesse novel or something like that. What are your thoughts on the statement I just made?

MB: The only thing that seems to have been created without any decipherable inspiration is the universe. It doesn’t seem possible for any piece of writing to exist without an initial creative impulse — an amount of inspiration is required to write “I feel uninspired.” Life feels like a long series of simple moments punctuated by peak experiences. If I were to write a second-by-second transcription of 30 seconds of a peak experience of mine it would probably read like a composite of small details that would make up any other 30 seconds of my life. Transcendent moments and mundane moments are both made of seconds and oxygen and bodies and light and atoms. I don’t experience transcendence in realtime, usually it just happens like anything else and with time I realize I’ve mentally classified it as significant. Generally I feel less drawn to writing that romanticizes life or wants to give it a moral or punchline. People who wouldn’t like my writing because they think it’s boring or uninspired probably read books for different reasons I do, which is fine.

TC: You seem like someone who’s managed to not totally give a shit what a lot of people think about you or your writing. Is that true?

MB: The degree to which I care what people think about me/my writing seems conditional to my relationship with the person. I care a lot about what people I like and regularly interact with think about me. I want people to feel good around me. I like hearing anything anyone has to say about my writing because whatever they say will be something I hadn’t thought.

TC: When you say you started focusing “pretty hard” on writing a year and a half ago, what sorts of things did you start doing that you didn’t do before? Did you see a big improvement in your writing from before?

MB: Mostly I think I just started viewing my writing as something other people would see. It felt more exciting to do which made me want to do it more often. The most notable new thing I did was probably writing down thoughts I’d normally dismiss or sort of let pass through me. I also started staying awake late in my school’s 24-hour computer lab to work on stuff, paying attention to how writers I liked became what I considered “successful,” and reading more. I don’t think I’ve noticed non-technical/grammatical improvements in my writing over time. When I re-read old things of mine I think “how did I do that, that’s great” and “how did I do that, that’s terrible” in similar ratios.

TC: People say that Baltimore sucks. Do you agree?

MB: I like Baltimore. When I haven’t liked places it rarely has anything to do with the place itself, usually something else is just going on in my life that I don’t like.

TC: Did you learn anything important in writing classes at school?

MB: In one of my classes we read an essay that said to carry around a notebook where you can write your ideas as soon as you have them because otherwise you won’t remember them. I learned “intents and purposes” is not “intensive purposes.” I also learned if I want to be on time for class I need to pretend it’s ten minutes later than it is.

TC: Have you ever considered acting on an impulse to go all rock-star in interviews and talk about how nobody understands Muumuu House or you or Tao Lin, and how everyone should just f-ck off for talking sh-t? Seems like you probably experience a lot of sh-t talking.

MB: I don’t feel like convincing anyone they should like Muumuu House or me or Tao Lin. I’m pretty non-confrontational and I barely even know what I want out of life. It seems natural to for people to sh-t talk and misunderstand each other, people seem to enjoy that. At their best negative comments seem like spectacles of the strangeness of humanity, and at their worst they often don’t make much sense. They’re mostly interesting for me to encounter because if I see something I don’t like I’ll just stop looking at it or do something else, but it seems like some people feel threatened by things they don’t like, and imagining their reasons can be funny. I’d probably feel a similar level of interest reading two paragraphs of negative things a stranger says about me as I would watching a YouTube video of a person dunking their head in a tub of rice or something.

TC: Do you think it’s essential to have a blog “this day in age” if you’re a writer?

MB: Blogging seems less popular now than it did a few years ago. A lot of writers’ personal blogs I used to read are now either deleted or pretty clearly used as promotional tools. Having an agent seems more important than having a blog. Writing things people will want to read seems more important than having an agent. I feel like I don’t know anything about what’s essential for writers to do. TC mark

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    • http://twitter.com/#!/WordNerd Ethan

      sweet

    • http://twitter.com/#!/WordNerd Ethan

      sweet

    • bodythatmatters

      i hate to break it to you, but you are a feminist.

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      sweet

      • Oliver Miller

        *headbutts Tao Lin*

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

          *concerned for the well being of oliver miller*

    • Hh

      “Not really. I don’t think I think as much about differences between men and women as ‘feminists’ do. It seems crazy to me to think that some people get paid less than others just because they were born with equipment to grow another person inside of them. It also seems crazy to me to think half of the world is conspiring to oppress the other half by creating products like lipstick.”
      You can’t really judge the feminist movement when you clearly know nothing about it. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carlos-Ortiz/1279921705 Carlos Ortiz

        i don’t see how she was judging the feminist movement.

        • Hh

          You’re right, it was more like a completely unqualified, totally inaccurate statement about feminism. Yes, the entire mantra of feminism is that there’s a lipstick conspiracy. Seriously? She didn’t say anything inherently offensive, but I’m sick and tired of people pretending that they have nuanced and moderate views for not siding with perceived “radical” ideologies, thinking that they can sum up the entire thing in neat little packages when in fact they’ve never even bothered to try and understand its numerous and complex tenets. It’s a very privileged position. 

        • Rirv

          Feminism: believes social, political, and all other rights of women should be equal to those of men.
          Radical feminism exists, but that’s not the same thing.I read that she said ‘not really’ to being a feminist and thought, ‘come on… everyone who believes men and women should be equals is a feminist. I’m ashamed to know that some women don’t even know what the word means.’ 

        • Guesty

          I think that if you take the context of her article in mind, Boyle said that it seems crazy to think the world is conspiring against x portion of the entire planet. She didn’t devalue the entire movement into  a single argument. 

        • Hh

          Also, all the women – yes, all feminists by definition – who have fought for the rights that Megan Boyle can nonchalantly exercise without a second thought – are all facepalming in their graves. So are the ones living today and still fighting against systematic inequality. 

      • Iusuiusui

        i feel like a lot of people like to talk about feminism because they can be indulgently self-righteous and a little smug and still feel good about it because they feel they’re being aware and progressive and ethical and things like that probably

        also because they support the feminist movement, but i thought that was obvious

      • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

        i wasn’t judging the feminist movement

        i know very little about the feminist movement

    • http://twitter.com/MissKimball misskimball

      sweet

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carlos-Ortiz/1279921705 Carlos Ortiz

      “If I were to write a second-by-second transcription of 30 seconds of a peak experience of mine it would probably read like a composite of small details that would make up any other 30 seconds of my life. Transcendent moments and mundane moments are both made of seconds and oxygen and bodies and light and atoms.”

      nice, i liked this.

      • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

        me too. i made into a spoken text file because i was bored.

    • juan pancake

      illiterate writers club.

    • Zachary German

      what a zany bitch

      talk about head-in-the-clouds

      • spencerlewin

        eat when you feel like a zany bitch

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

        head-in-the-clouds, feet-on-the-ground, she’s the girl he’s glad he’s found, she’s his shipoopi

    • Kareng

      zzzz

    • Emily F. Clouse

      does your lip really have IPIZZA tattooed on it? i would buy an iPizza. i smoked weed for the first time in ~2 months 2 nights ago and read a lot about steve jobs.

      • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

        it says ‘pizza,’ the thing that looks like an ‘i’ is one of two arrows

        ;)

    • Ronald

      Really like Boyle’s writing and enjoyed this interview, but, acknowledging the potentially complex ironies and contradictions of the following statements, feel like I relate to “if I see something I don’t like I’ll just stop looking at it” re pizza tattoo, without simultaneously relating to the “it seems like some people feel threatened by things they don’t like” aspect, because I don’t feel threatened or even think it possible for me to feel threatened by someone else’s tattoo, and consider it being both an instance of encountering “spectacles of the strangeness of humanity” and something that to me doesn’t “make much sense.”

      I thought about the photo of the pizza tattoo more than any written part of this article. Pretty cool.

      • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

        interesting

        i agree/think people can dislike something without feeling threatened by it too

    • Lilly

      I thought this interview was conducted with an air of condescension. I know the ‘patrons’ of Thought Catalog vary in regards to their convictions towards Megan and Tao, but this interview seemed to foster all the hostility aimed towards the two and unleash it wholly on Megan.
      I’m not defending her either, but in light of Juliani’s approach, I thought Megan came off looking more put-together and articulate.  

      • Ronald

        Was the interviewer being hostile or asking the ‘hard’ questions? I thought it was the latter. I thought it was a good interview.

    • A Panda

      This interview made me become a panda

    • Anonymous

      I’m sorry if i’m about to offend anybody but why are the likes of Tao Lin and Megan Boyle still on thought catalog?

      • Huh

        Why wouldn’t they be, what are you asking?

        • Anonymous

          Excuse me if i’m wrong but the pieces on thought catalog have evolved without them. It’s…quite different now.

        • Huh

          You don’t make sense.

        • Huh

          Meant to type more. You think because TC has evolved that they wouldn’t publish anyone they previously published? And you asked that as an earnest question? Or rhetorically to mean something like “Tao and Megan don’t belong here anymore, I disapprove of them being published by Thought Catalog, I disapprove of the editors of this site’s decision about what to publish”?

        • yawn

          but whats the point of publishing a boring interview? waste of time.

        • Dole

          like a taco bell taco evolves into a turd

    • alyssa

      read her answer to the first question. did not read further.

    • LaTourista

      Good questions, but not terribly interesting answers. What’s the fascination with these illiterates?

    • dip

      “TC: People say that Baltimore sucks.”

      People in Baltimore say TC sucks

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

        csbro

    • Dole

      Seems to be a really inaccurate understanding of how “feminism” is used today.  It is not about conspiracy theories.  Feminists believe women should be treated like human beings.

      • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

        i believe women should be treated like human beings

    • http://theopenend.com/ herocious

      can you forward me the pdf please

    • Rashid Jones

      made me think of how zooey deschanel wannabe’s are so 2010.

      the interview reeks of inflated self-importance. why would the average reader care at all about these answers? nothing with substance is given here.

      • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

        i don’t want to be zooey deschanel and i don’t know why the average reader would care about me

      • http://timlivingston123.wordpress.com/ tim livingston

        Rashida Jones

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KSOI6I2OI4S4J4BNKBDTIPMPDY shiva

      am lucky call me if u want the male for work

    • Anonymous

      phlpn.es/829r8s

    • Broah Cicero

      Broah Cicero  475 years ago
      the feminist movement(S) founded the kind of apathy of the Megan generation.

      Brodog Sincerelysissero  475 years ago

      Woah, bro. Are you saying the feminist movement caused apathy among women? I think that’s ‘sexist’ and ‘narrow minded’ of you. Feels like you need to rethink where it’s all coming from – your hate and mistrust of women. #wanttohelp #thinkingboutyou @BroahCicero

      Broah Cicero 

      5 stars. a+ work. no way I ‘intended’ that. u gotta look at the politics and ethics. 101 knowledge.

      “ah, I see.”

      475
      475                                                           : – D    BELIEVING IN YOU MEGAN BOYLE WANT TO SEE YOU DO GREAT ALWAYS
      475

      • http://youtubedotcom.tumblr.com/ marshall

        good comment

    • Anonymous

      50.gd/2g

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