It really gave me the confidence to own my race instead of erasing it or apologizing for it.
Stephanie Georgopulos, author of Some Things I Did for Money and editor of Human Parts on coming out as biracial, gym emotions and off-limit subjects.
You write and edit Human Parts, what have been your favourite stories to write?
Hm. My favorite piece and my favorite piece to write are definitely two different things… A Review of Going to the Gym by Someone Who Has No Idea How to Take Care of Herself But is Trying was probably my favorite to write because it was written in my head already. I have so many gym emotions! I think a lot of people do, but it’s sort of a weird thing to talk about. I wonder what it’s like to be a person with zero gym emotions, who just goes and gets shit done and doesn’t worry about how unattractive their resting workout face is.
Coming Out as Biracial was my favorite thing to publish, but not my favorite thing to write. It was difficult to write. I think I was actually crying during the first draft. I had to be honest about a lot of things I’d suppressed in the past; I didn’t want my parents to feel like they’d failed me; I didn’t want to have to assuage the guilt of well-meaning white friends who’d unknowingly hurt me. I especially didn’t want anyone to feel like I was taking away from their struggle, that scared me most. But the response was so compassionate that any fears I had became irrelevant almost immediately. I got emails from white grandparents with biracial grandkids who loved them to death (they sent pictures); I got emails from families who were mixed via adoption; I got emails from interracial couples like my parents, who were excited to see their children’s (or future children’s) identities out there and affirmed. It was the biggest love fest, and it really gave me the confidence to own my race instead of erasing it or apologizing for it.
And your favourite stories by others?
I’ve published thousands of stories so this is a hard one! I love Fifteen Beginnings of an Essay I Will Never Write by my co-editor Harris Sockel, When Do You Stop Wondering If You Did the Right Thing? by my road dog Zaron Burnett, Summer of Defiance by Chloe Caldwell, The Minotaur by Soleil Ho, Mama Wants Me Dead by Abby Norman, All This Useless Beauty by Elinor Abbott, I Was a Son of Satan by Jimmy Chen, How to Be a Writer by M. Molly Backes, and I’m going to end with Art is a Facebook Status About Your Winter Break by B.E. Fitzgerald. But so, so many more!
Tell us why you wrote Some Things I Did for Money.
I come from a family where ignoring money was not an option. So I didn’t, and I still don’t. I think about it all the time. How to make it, how to keep it, what happens if I fail at both. There are ingrained reasons I obsess over it, and Some Things I Did for Money was my attempt to explore those reasons. I also just love reading about other people’s money neurosis and wondered what that part of my life would look like under that filter. It took me about three months to write it, and six months of fiddling with it. I’m still mentally fiddling with it. I would probably edit it once a week if it wouldn’t drive my editors insane.
What would be your tips for others wanting to share their personal experiences in writing?
Keep some things for yourself. Note that I didn’t say “to yourself.” The latter tells you not everything is worth sharing, and the former suggests you keep an inner life you can explore without comment. And look, the things I keep for myself now will change in ten years, twenty years. I fully anticipate that my current off-limit subjects will be examined through writing someday, and I look forward to that! But as personal as some of the things I write may seem, I chose them consciously. It’s not the full story. You don’t need to give up all of your privacy and unexamined thoughts to write something worthwhile.
Who inspires you and why?
Miranda July. She’s a bottomless well of ideas that I wish I’d had first. I love that she made an online store to sell items from The First Bad Man. I love receiving her fortunes in my email. I love the Somebody app, even though I’ve been too scared to use it (so far). It inspires me to see all the different ways a writer can manifest off the page. I think it might be the only way to stay sane.
What’s your process for writing?
Having one would be helpful, but it varies. Morning works best for me. I like to light a candle or some incense, something that changes the mood in the room. Sometimes I collect sentences for a few weeks and then piece them together; sometimes I write straight through, tweaking sentences here and there. It really depends on how urgent the story feels and how much of it has already been written in my head.
Is Brooklyn the best place to do what you do?
No. I was born and mostly raised here, and even I’m ready to leave. I love Brooklyn like it’s family, but the best thing about writing is that you can do it anywhere. People always talk about the networking opportunities in New York as though it’s impossible to forge friendships and alliances online. I know for a fact that it’s not; I think this is mostly a fantasy people have about belonging to a scene. But a scene can happen anywhere. If all literary types lived in Brooklyn, we’d run out of things to read in the next five years. Again, I love Brooklyn — I was born to — but part of writing is living and living doesn’t require a built-in writing community. Living here doesn’t guarantee you one, that’s for sure.
What’s your story? What are you doing right now?
You’re asking me this at an interesting time. I just left my day job in advertising to freelance full-time. I’ve never had complete control over my life until now, and I’m thrilled/terrified to see how that pans out. As for “my story,” I’m trying hard(er) not to narrativize myself. This is the first time I’ve had freedom in my adult life, and I don’t want to place limits on it by pretending I know what and who I am, exactly. I want to be open to being completely wrong about everything I know.
If you weren’t writing, what would be your Plan B?
I’m interested in herbal remedies and homemade products in general — soaps, oils, etc. So I’d probably dive in a bit deeper there. It’s become obvious to me that I need to do things with my hands that don’t involve typing.
Find more interviews and ideas at Capioca.