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The Writing Life: Naked and Crazy

The Writing Life: Naked and Crazy

Author: TT Jax

May 15, 2012

Canteen‘s “Hot Authors issue, the editors ask, “What is it about being literary that has become so boring, so staid, so – dare we suggest it – dignified?”

Dignified, indeed. The writing life can be a real kill-joy; we work hard to keep a lid on the crazy, to mime leading more stable or wealthy or professional lives than we actually do.

Canteen contributors allow readers to “see all” in a venture to examine how authors (and everyone else, thanks, Zuckerberg) must now be marketable personalities. Check out issue 7 to see Michelle Tea and Tao Lin (among 14 others) naked! (And, um, queer community, we can do better than that. Salacious, hello? A Queer Hot Author’s issue?)

More on this dignity bit: writer Daniel Smith talks with Katie Ryder in Guernica Magazine about his struggles with an anxiety disorder. In his forthcoming memoir, The Monkey Mind Chronicles, Smith says, “My back was knotted and hunched, my shoulders were up to my ears, my skin . . . pallid and clammy, my pupils . . . wide as deer’s, my cheeks . . . gaunt, and my fingertips . . . torn and scabbed from my gnawing at them day and night.”

Ah, anxiety. I’ll bet comedian and writer Sara Benicasa is familiar. Her recent book, Agorafabulous, details her own descent into pissing in bowls in lieu of leaving the safety of her bed.

Not that I’m familiar with that. I totally have never worn my pajamas more than five days running, lived exclusively off of packaged apricots, or hugged a stuffed fox named Glitter Lickskillet to get through the night. Not in the last month, anyway.

Let’s accept this: writers are crazy. If you’re not a crazy writer, at least have the decency to pretend. Otherwise we’ll get anxious.

And if we do, Augusten Burroughs offers up some self-help suggestions in his forthcoming book, This is How, so that we can put down our stuffed foxes and get on with dignified living. He’s hitting up the West Coast in coming weeks, so if you’re around be sure to get him to sign your fox.

In the meantime, take this quiz to find out which crazy author you are. I’m apparently Hunter S. Thompson, but I didn’t have that much fun in Vegas.


Photo: Michelle Tea
Photo credit:  formento+formento
TT Jax photo

About: TT Jax

TT Jax is a parent, partner, multi-media artist, and writer currently living in the Pacific Northwest by way of 28 years in the deep South. Jax writes the column Special Topics for, blogs for Original Plumbing, and co-edits Fresh Meat, a forthcoming anthology on trans and queer in-community violence. His writing has appeared in a number of literary journals and magazines, including The Mom Egg, Hip Mama, Underground Voices, <kill author, and Mudluscious. Several of his poems are forthcoming in Troubling the Line: : An Anthology of Trans & Genderqueer Poetry & Poetics . Slowly but tenaciously, Jax will complete a hybrid memoir-play about his teenage nuthouse years. Meanwhile he blogs at

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