This Boring Apocalypse (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2015)
What’s the oldest part of your novella? Is there a section or passage that catalyzed or inspired the rest of the novella? What do you remember about writing it?
This Boring Apocalypse was actually written in a fairly linear fashion, though it used to be around 88,000 words long. I am an over-writer. I cut and cut until it began to make sense. There were a lot more cats in the earlier draft. I think cake frosting was featured as a character, but isn’t. There were a lot of hamburgers. I might have been really hungry.
What’s your novella about? How is it similar to or different from your earlier work?
I think this project deals with issues of control, ownership, and agency, which are themes in most of what I write. Body horror is a way I often work with these issues, so it comes into play in this work as well. What can I take from a person, physically or emotionally, and have them remain a person? To what is a body’s personhood attached? I keep trying to figure that out.
How did you decide on the length and title of your novella? What were some of its earlier titles?
I cut the novella until it wasn’t awful. It was saved on my laptop/ dropbox under “Automatic Environmental Learning” for a long time, but that isn’t very catchy.
Did you submit your novella to contests, open reading periods, or both?
I submitted it to a handful of places and heard back from Civil Coping Mechanisms the day I submitted it. Michael Seidlinger told me he read it while riding the bus. It was very exciting to hear back so quickly.
What have you done to promote and publicize your novella?
Right now, the amazing Evelyn Hampton and I are having a small contest where we’ll each give away four copies of our books. The contest is here: http://thisboringdiscomfort.tumblr.com/post/109265704269/on-february-24-discomfort-by-evelyn-hampton-will
Basically you just send a picture of one of our books’ future ghosts to email@example.com
What are you working on now?
I’m working on two things, because I’m always working on at least two things. I’m writing a book of essays that deals with the 6-7 years I spent as a slumlord in Georgia. I’m also working on a novel about a character who gives up on her life and goes to the countryside to live as a goat.
What is your writing practice or process?
I sit and write with the cat and dog. I watch too much television. I have a treadmill in my living room and sometimes when I’m stressed, I tread towards episodes of The OC or Adventure Time. Then I pet the cat and dog and I try to write again. I write really bad first drafts and revise. I’m a heavy rewriter/ reviser.
Do you have a favorite prompt or revision technique? What is it?
I read things aloud. I delete things quickly and never regret. I’ve never deleted a hunk of text and found myself missing it. I never miss it.
What question would you like to ask future novella authors featured at Speaking of Marvels?
Did you write a novella on purpose?
Who is your intended audience? What kind of person do you imagine writing to?
I’m probably writing to someone who already likes me a lot. Someone who likes me and wants to eat donuts and have a drink.
Do you remember the first time you showed someone your writing, and what was the experience like?
I think it was an ex-boyfriend and he was half, “this is amazing!” and half, “here let me tell you everything that is wrong with your writing and also maybe wrong with you as a person. Let me tell you how to be a person.” I was very young then and thought I liked this exboyfriend and I think I tried to be the person he wanted me to be.
Have you ever written a fan letter to a writer? What did you/might you say?
Gosh, I’m all the time emailing people and telling them I love their book/story/poem. I worry this is aggravating. “OH THAT BRANDI WELLS, FAWNING OVER ME AGAIN.”
At what point in the writing process did you know you were writing a novella (as opposed to a longer work)?
I think when I deleted all the parts that sucked, I guessed it must be a novella. I feel unsure still, but it’s not super long, so it must be a novella. Someone blurbing it asked me if I called it an novel or a novella, so it can’t be just me.
Where is the ideal place to read your novella? What type of place for reading might antagonize your novella?
You should probably be eating a donut and having whatever beverage you imagine goes with donuts. (It’s gin. Gin goes with donuts. Drink fast, eat slow.)
Brandi Wells is the author of Please Don’t Be Upset (Tiny Hardcore Press) and the forthcoming This Boring Apocalypse (Civil Coping Mechanisms). Her writing appears in Denver Quarterly, Sycamore Review, Paper Darts, Folio, Chicago Review and other journals.
from This Boring Apocalypse
I do not care for her feminine mystique. I am a woman too, I tell her and I cut off her breasts. She doesn’t watch me do it, but I know she feels it, feels the jagged, sloppy cuts. She feels the pulling and the breaking of skin, as I rip fatty tissue away from its base. I hold one severed breast up, but she won’t look, so I discard them both.
Later her lopped off breasts grow onto the palms of my hands. It is difficult to touch things with these mounds of flesh in my hands. It is a numb feeling, like wearing many layers of gloves and knowing underneath the layers, my hands are dirty and dry. Knowing that moisture is not soon coming. Knowing pores will continue their drying process, their shrinking process, until they are no longer capable of absorbing any sort of liquid. No longer capable of expelling sweat and waste. This is a nervous feeling, an inhibition.
Oh my god, everyone will say and they will reject me. We all reject you, they will say.