Where are you publishing lately? Do you have plans for another book?
I can’t really answer any of these questions since I’m sort of adrift right now, not working on a specific book and not publishing online, but instead working on side projects that may or may not go anywhere. It’s not a gratifying or financially stable place to be, but it feels right for the time being.
I have a lot of unpublished work. I actually spent over a year writing and drawing an entire 230-page book that is a follow-up to “Drinking at the Movies,” and then I shelved the whole thing and did “The Infinite Wait” in seven months and put that out instead. I still haven’t decided if I want to revisit it or not. And I have a bunch of short stories about my childhood that remain unpublished since I haven’t quite figured out where to put them. The danger of sitting on unpublished work is that as you grow as a writer and artist, it becomes an albatross. You want to have put it out already but you don’t want to put it out now, as it might appear a step backward. Also, my old work is embarrassing to read sometimes, especially when it covers a hardy chunk of my 20s, which is just an embarrassing time in general.
You expose a lot in your books: alcoholism, recovery, serious illness, sexuality. What are the risks and rewards of working so confessionally?
I think the confessional aspect is just an effect of doing autobio work. But I’m very careful about what I present and what I leave out. I omit a lot. I’ll let the reader into my head for a while, which seems very intimate and confessional, but then I’ll leave out huge chunks of time or difficult experiences I don’t want the public to know. Sometimes I find certain information doesn’t complement or complete the story, and can instead drag it down. For example, the story “The Infinite Wait” — about being diagnosed with systemic lupus — covers eight months, about four of which I spent most of my time in bed in pain and I fell into a deep depression. But I felt lingering on that was unnecessary. Everyone knows being sick sucks. I wanted to cover the subject with more humor because it’s tedious to read pages and pages of a person lying in bed and being boring and sad.
And there is plenty of family drama I’ve been asked not to include in the books. I try to honor my family’s wishes at least most of the time.