A Ten Question Interview With The Artist…Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Why do you write?

It is more a compulsion then anything really, some sickness – I believe they call it Hypergraphia or some stupid name like that. All I know is I am always writing all over everything: spiral notepads, stick-it-notes, packets of oatmeal, pieces of cardboard, clothing fabric, envelopes, and this computer of course. There are piles everywhere. Sometimes you come back to them a year or so later, pick up a scrap of paper that says: sister listeria of the blue Acura humping or something of that nature and wonder what the hell is that supposed to mean? So short answer: I write because I have to, I guess. Plus I can’t do anything else adequately so it is nice to have something.

What books do you read?

Kafka’s short stories are a favourite – he was so damn neurotic. I am reading Dostoevsky’s The Gambler at present, one of his shorter lesser knowns (I think) but a favourite of mine probably because Dostoevsky was such a gambler himself with the creditors always snapping at his heels so you can tell he really puts his heart into that one. Leonard Cohen’s Flowers for Hitler is a favourite poetry offering for me, as well as Basho and Li Bai. Buk and Fante have always been central of course, as I imagine they are for many. I enjoy some early Ginsberg, Richard Brautigan is cool, Al Purdy, and E.E. Cummings when you really want to spin your head. Joyce as well, but that may just be an Irish bias, like seven different ways to eat potatoes.

What inspires you?

I don’t know if anything inspires me anymore, I just write things. Little things as you go through the day I guess. I am a people watcher so pretty much just things you may witness like an old couple sharing an ice cream by the water or someone beating their dog; a curled hair in the sink that wants to be the number six. Music is always inspiring I would say. Listening to music can put you in a place most other things cannot.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?

I don’t really consider myself a writer so there really is no “how” or “when”. I mean, I don’t make any money from my writing so I am not a writer. I work odd jobs, usually construction-based grunt work or as a grocery store stock boy. I used to drive truck and work sheet metal, spent two stints in a book bindery. I was a soccer referee, a crossing guard, worked for a clothing vendor, maintenance at a flea market, toll booth operator, dubbing music videos, cleaning boats, telemarketing etc. – just the stupid shit that people do to get by, you know? Working the hustle and being hustled. But the writing is just a thing I do when I can. The other things pay, so I guess I am menial labour – my back would certainly agree at this point.

How Do you deal with rejection?

Pretty well, I think. I mean I don’t really send out lots of stuff too much anymore but when I did most the time I would just never hear back, so when I got a rejection it became almost like an acceptance in some strange way. Not a yes, but at least you heard back. I mean, you didn’t hear back so often that when you did, you thought: that was real classy of them to take the time to send a rejection.

Who are some writers you admire?

There is this Aussie from Melbourne named Ben John Smith, I have the highest admiration for him: http://www.horrorsleazetrash.com/poetry/white-white-white-ben-john-smith/
In my opinion he is the best writer out there today hands down. There’s an honesty to his work and a quality of menacing tenderness you just won’t get anywhere else. Plus he’s a real stand up dude to boot. A cat lover like me. I also admire Rimbaud.

And Blake, as much for the visual art as for the writing. That guy definitely had it!

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

It is. I dabble with the paints every so often but nothing serious. I can’t make films and I can’t sculpt or make music or anything like that. I wish I could make music, I think it is the best of the arts and everyone would do it if they could. Film is a close second. But I can’t do those things so I just write.

What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?

Do not worry about the things that seem so important, they really aren’t compared to what’s coming down the line. And don’t work so hard. Don’t worry about being awful at math and science, you will never need any of it anyways. Just relax as best you can and don’t chase things. Let them come to you or not – in the end it won’t really matter either way.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write, I guess. But do it only because you enjoy it or have to out of some sick compulsion or something. There is no money in it, so if that is your motivation get into banking or hedge funds or oil speculation. If it is notoriety you seek just realize that there are a million cats on the internet right now that have never written a thing who will forever eclipse any marginal notoriety that may come your way. Sorry but it’s true. Our cat overlords will make you worship them the same way the ancient Egyptians did.

Oh, and be honest…brutally fucking honest.

What is your writing process?

Notes everywhere, stacks of words. Try to get some of them down the best way you can. And drink a lot of wine and beer. Write loose and fast and take what comes.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a happily unmarried proud father of none.  He lives in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with a nurse that drives a big blacked out truck and many bears that roam the streets going through his garbage.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a happily unmarried proud father of none. He lives in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with a nurse that drives a big blacked out truck and many bears that roam the streets going through his garbage.

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