August 25, 2015

8/24/15 – KAF#15 – On Success with Lillien Waller

Artist: Lillien Waller

Location: Le Petit Zinc

Breakfast:

LW – Coffee (black), spinach-and-something-else crepe

SRS – Coffee (black), lemon sucre crepe

I have mentioned already, and will mention again, how much I love the opportunity to connect with other writers. We are such a finicky, introverted bunch; it is so hard to get in a room with another writer. Especially when both of you are still trying to get your bearings from winning a Kresge Fellowship, which brings with it a lot of attention, opportunities, and resources, which–NOT COMPLAINING–can be a challenge for introverts to manage.

Kresge Fellows I’ve talked to seem to fall into two categories–people who want to touch the money, and people who don’t want to touch the money. As for which school Lillien belongs to, “Oh, the money has been touched.” She’s made some exciting strides, buying a place for herself, and is in the process of getting it set up. We’ve both been covering a lot of ground, and are both a little travel-weary because of it. “I just want to get back to writing,” she says, and I realized what we’re doing right now is building new infrastructure. It is the absolute worst, because it involves disrupting your whole system, but it’s also the only way to bring about systemic change. I demoed a wall in my kitchen, instead of taking the stress-free staycation I needed this month, and it broke me, a little. However, now that I have a working sink again, it feels worth it.

We also talked about the dreaded KAID videos–three-minute mini-documentaries that introduce Fellows, and–AGAIN NOT COMPLAINING–are basically an introvert’s worst nightmare. As I tried to explain to the endlessly patient and supportive filmmakers Oren Goldenberg and Ben Friedman, the only way I’m able to conduct myself in public is by having little to no idea what I actually look like while I’m doing it. I’m really anxious about my video shoot, and wanted to hear all about Lillien’s, which has already taken place. Unsurprisingly, she had mixed feelings…but also had some great advice for me about dos and don’ts for my own shoot. I cannot emphasize enough the power of humans as resources when it comes to lived experience. Ask for advice when you feel uncertain, and then–this is key–listen to it.

We talked about books, and how easy it is to mistake books for knowledge. I recounted one of my favorite disaster date stories from New York, having accompanied a man back to his apartment and being initially impressed by his massive book collection. Imagine my horror upon browsing through Proust and hearing the telltale crack of a book that had never even been opened, let alone read. Fraud!

Lillien’s the real deal though–if she hasn’t read Proust, she will tell you so. I’m looking forward to our next breakfast encounter!

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