Your essay "Fremont Blues" is an almost mythical portrayal of Vegas though it is based on your true experience. Tell us about it.
The piece was largely influenced by two things. First, and most obviously, was my brief trip to Las Vegas. I've always been enchanted (which may be weird to say of such a vile place) by Las Vegas. The American Dream, after all, is somewhere near Las Vegas—at least, that's what Hunter S. Thompson thought. Walking down Fremont Street with my then girlfriend was a visceral experience: I was surrounded by gold-plated and flashing decay; sex, sex, and more sex; and most strikingly, a general feeling of in-authenticity. It's that feeling that brings me to my second influence: my own feelings of in-authenticity as a writer and in my relationship, again, with my then girlfriend. I felt that I had nothing new to say. I am a white, middle-class, and heterosexual male—authors like Tom Wolfe and Jack Kerouac, to my mind, had already said everything white, middle-class, and heterosexual males have ever had to say. As such, I tried to draw from Langston Hughes and blues poetry—an artist and art that I believed had a distinct originality. From that, I think my feelings of in-authenticity only increased. And of course, on top of all that, I felt in-authentic in my relationship with my then girlfriend. I'll spare the reader that explanation.
What's your writing process?
My writing process in ten steps. Step one: write a lot, read the writing, and hate it. Step two: drink a beer. Step three: ruminate on my feelings of hatred toward my writing. Step four: realize that my writing isn't absolutely terrible. Step five: drink another beer (for good measure, maybe a third). Step six: forget about my writing for a couple weeks. Step seven: revisit my writing and, you know, do the whole editing and work-shopping thing with my (truly) fabulous writing peers and professors. Step eight: put some finishing touches on the piece, or, if needed, rewrite the whole damn thing (this happens all too often). Step nine: realize that there is no more beer in the fridge. Step ten: drive to the store to buy beer.