Do you think as a writer you are progressing beyond the zine genre?
I don't know. Zines are fun because I like to write about my life. That's what it is about for me. I like reading people's really honest stuff, and I like writing really honest stuff. It's not just a literary thing for me, like these words are cool together. I get into that, but it's more about trying to figure out things about life. I like the zine format because you don't have to explain why you're doing that.
Were you worried about the idea of a book of love stories being clichéd?
I think there is a lot of bitter stuff out there. I think it's socially acceptable for women in particular to write really bitchy stories about men. To me it seems personally irresponsible not to take responsibility for how you got into the situation that you did. Once I realized what was coming together, I really wanted to have something that expressed a full range of different emotions.
Finishing it, it seems like you have gained a lot of wisdom. That you can look back at all these relationships and see what happened and what went wrong. Like you're saying, you don't just blame someone or blame yourself.
I was having this feeling before I wrote Notta Lotta. In the previous fall I was reading Willa Cather. She was so closeted about relationships. George Eliot was another author that I had been reading. I feel such an affinity for these other women writers, but I was realizing there was this huge difference in time with what is socially acceptable, particularly for women. Today you can have more than one relationship in life; you can have any number of relationships. I think there's so much growth that happens with that, so much faith in yourself that you have to assume. I think it's really a different experience.
Doris Lessing was behaving that way in the beginning of this century but it was a little more radical then. It's been a slow change. It fascinates me because I think so many things aren't new. So many of our emotions and responses to life have been the same for tens of thousands of years of human existence, but this seems different. That's what got me excited about writing it. The stories I'm writing are so common for everyone my age I know. We have had all these different lovers, boyfriends, girlfriends, and relationships. It's really a common experience now, but where it's going to end up, or how that's going to play out is still unknown.
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