Keeping It Real–Or Whatever–with Megan Boyle
Have you met Megan Boyle? She’s a writer and poet, and her debut book of poetry Unpublished Blog Posts of a Mexican Panda Express Employee was the most fun I’ve ever had reading. Megan is best know for her VICE column “Boyle‘s Brains” and writes indulgent pieces like “Everyone I’ve Ever Had Sex With” that you can’t help but love. She hangs out with cool kids from the online Alt Lit community and was married to and separated from the ever-elusive Tao Lin. In March she started a live blog where she documents the minutia of her daily life. Follow her at @MeganBoyle or @BoyleUnedited.
What are you up to these days?
Megan Boyle: I started this thing on March 17th of like liveblogging everything I do, and that’s actually been taking up a lot of my time–that’s kind of why I got pulled over I think. Yeah I’m been doing that a lot. Just thinking I’m going to do that a lot.
Your latest book is about blog posts from a panda — What’s the title of it exactly?
I feel like you have such huge body of work for someone so young. Are you always writing in your head? [laughs] What’s that like? Is it hard to sleep?
Yeah I don’t sleep a lot. That’s kinda always been how it is. I always kinda feel like my inner monologue–since I started becoming aware I’m a person, there’s been a part of me that’s been thinking in a kinda narrative way, like “oh you’re doing this now.”
How long has that been going on–since you were a teenager?
Yeah probably when I was a teenager.
Do you ever revisit work from when you were young and go “what was I thinking?!”
Yeah. I had a blog—I started one when I was 14 or 15 and like, when it’s really really different from stuff I do now, and it’s kind of like embarrassing at first. I had it private for a long time because I was like, “No, no one can see this!” but it’s just another part of whatever.
Can we find it online? What’s it called?
It’s called “Don’t Fuck with Me I’m an Ice Skater”.
That was fun. I think that’s kinda what started me–since then, I’ve kinda been writing constantly.
So when would you say you found your voice? Or is your voice evolving?
It definitely changed a lot when I started my thing that the book was from. In like 2008 when I started getting more involved in the internet, something about that voice struck a chord with me. I definitely stopped being so–I think I would [...] make things sound kinda cute or fake [...] before, sort of dramatize things. I don’t really like doing that.
So you like to keep it real. I find that refreshing. I actually discovered you through Bebe Zeva. Bebe Zeva’s blog Fated to be Hated was on my Google reader. I discovered you and Tao Lin through her little portal. How did that come about?
The Bebe thing? Tao and I–I knew Bebe from Hipster Runoff and stuff–and I knew she lived in Las Vegas, and Tao and I took an impulsive trip to LV. We were just starting the MDMA films back then and we thought like we could just hang out with Bebe and make a Bebe one instead of like a drug one since we were in LV. He like contacted her, and it was like the day we got married.
You got married in Vegas?
Now we’re separated.
Are you okay? Are you guys still friends?
Yeah–probably we’ll always be.
What’s it like being with a writer? Is it a battle of wits?
Not really at all. Kinda like the opposite it was with him. He was very nurturing and encouraging of me just doing everything I could to further my career. And I think like he just naturally kinda thinks “I know how to promote myself” and “I know how to do this.” But I didn’t know how to do any of that, but I feel like I learned a lot from him, and he’d like edit my stuff and just like no competition [...] Just very supportive.
What were some of his tips on self-promotion?
Just do. If you have an article to do every single Tweet, Tumble, Facebook and I was always kind of hesitant–I don’t really want to be like, “Oh look at me! Look at me!” But stuff like that–always be doing something–always be having something, that’s basically it.
Do people send you weird emails or requests–before I go there, we came up with this term “social media performance artist.” A social media performance artist creates weird/awesome/exposing/etc. content as a way to connect with like-minded strangers. Do you know who Riff Raff is? He’s amazing at it. Would you say you’re a performance artist via social media or is this just you doing you, just trying to connect with more people?
I don’t think of it as I’m doing performance art. I also don’t think of it that much as I’m trying to connect with people because I don’t really end up doing that. I feel like most people do that and like they get friends and stuff. I kind of do it for that reason–to get feedback–but then I won’t really respond to emails or talk to people that much, which is some kind of neurotic thing.
What are you worried about?
I don’t know. I think probably on a baseline, some kind of insecure rejection thing or getting close to people leads to disappointment or whatever. Or also it just really isn’t as satisfying as friend in real life, but I have made friends from it that are now my real life friends also. It’s just like a very specific kind of person.
So the internet literature club–there’s a bunch of you guys, like Jordan Castro. I follow all of you on Twitter by the way. It seems like you get together and read your stories to each other, it’s super chill and everyone is drinking chai lattes. Is it really like that?
I’ve probably hung out with Jordan and Mallory the most of anyone from that kind of thing. And it’s been when I’ve visited Ohio or they’ve been in New York, and there’s no reading of stories. We do drugs and stuff and just hang out and talk. I try to think of ways to make what we’re doing something to tweet about, like live tweet a movie.
I like that. What kind of drugs do writers like?
I like everything.
Adderall seems like a big deal in the Alt Lit community..
I do that. I don’t have a prescription, but I have like a person who sells it to me. I think I go between the two. The neurotic–staying up all night I still haven’t done anything which I don’t like and then also–I’m on it now and if I wasn’t, I feel like I’d probably be like [laughs nervously] definitely different.
Why haven’t you tried to get a prescription?
That’s a really good question.
You’d save lots of money.
I know. I think I might actually try to do that because it would be like half the cost, and I don’t know, I do feel like I function better on it. I like Xanax a lot.
To go to sleep?
Yeah or like make stuff taste better also. I actually get it from my dad who gets it from online somewhere. I like hallucinogens.
Yeah, we had an intern who worked with us and would buy drugs from the internet. All kinds of hallucinogens.
Did he use the Silk Road?
No. Is that a website?
Yeah that’s like how you buy–you just buy drugs online from that, but you have to use a new browser to make it totally anonymous, and you have to pay for it in these things called bitcoins. I haven’t done it, but I had a friend and I watched him do it and I was like, “Whoa–you really can do it!” It was just like Craigslist.
What is available?
Like anything you want.
And they just ship it to you?
I don’t know how it’s functioning.
Where is it coming from?
Everywhere. Just people who are selling it I guess.
Do you feel like that’s a huge part of your creative process?
Not really that much. I think with Adderall mostly. I guess Tao and I used to do things like where we’d do a drug and write about our accounts of doing that together or live tweeting stuff. But for major–like all articles I do, I don’t think, “oh I’m going to take mushrooms to get ideas.” It’s sort of like the same thing like on mushrooms or not.
You still have the same kind of…
…resource of thoughts.
I read in an article that you said you think the world might end soon. Well, Alex read that and she told me to ask you. So what is that about–do you really believe that or is it just a state of mind?
That the world’s going to end soon? I really thought that whole thing December 21st. I was like–it makes sense for it to end right now. Like what else can we do? What else can happen? And I still kind of feel like that–like where else is this going?
Right, like are we just going to keep doing this over and over?
Yeah, it seems like something has to change or get different–like the internet has to change into something else.
I saw that on Twitter you have a ‘Megan Boyle’, and a ‘Megan Boyle Unedited.’ Why the need to edit?
Well, I think I started the unedited one because I was putting too much stress on the kinds of quality of tweets from my regular one, and I wasn’t really using it like I used to use it, and I thought, “This’ll just be a repository for like, ‘what is a hummus?’”–which can be also funny I guess. I actually use the unedited one more now. I kind of edit it.
Do you think your unedited audience is different from the original one?
Seems like sort of the same people. It actually probably per capita has more followers than the other one. I think it has like a thousand something followers. And the other one has 2000. It seems like the unedited one gets way more, and I interact with people more on that one.
Are you still writing for Vice or are you just kind of working on your own stuff right now?
Technically, yeah. I’m supposed to write a Vice thing every week, and that’ s actually the same idea that made me want to start the unedited Twitter thing [which] made me want to start the liveblog thing. I feel like I get really paralyzed or crippled with like a certain–I’m kind of perfectionisty.
With your own work?
For my stuff, I get into a hole where I can write anything. Or I don’t want to write anything that or have anything published that I don’t like all the way, so I thought if I do this live blog thing, I’ll just have ideas again. It’s kind of been working, but then I got wrapped up in that instead of articles. I mean I’m still planning on writing for Thought Catalog and Vice.
I remember I read one article about all the people you slept with, and I thought that was awesome. It was so honest, and I really like that about your voice. It’s just “this is me–no shame and I’m actually proud of this” and that’s cool. How does one get like that?
I mean you probably feel like that–if you want to do that or there’s stuff that’s stopping you. That’s the same thing that made me want to start writing in that way–I’ve got too much bullshit going on and I’m like, “No it feels good to be [a] blank slate–say exactly what I mean.” I guess when I wrote that I wasn’t thinking anyone would read it. But then it became okay. It’s kind of better when people know stuff than not––then they’re not mislead.
They’re not coming up with their own theories.
Or my goal is to have–it’d be nice to have a screen right now to my head that said all my thoughts continuously so people could just be like, “oh okay I get it. Do I like it or not?”
So you just need to write to get it out–otherwise what would happen? Would you just stress? Explode?
Maybe–it definitely feels better–I feel better when I do it. I guess before I started the blog and stuff, there’s just so much I edit–in like my interactions with people that I don’t really say. Oh I have this funny personality to get people to like me. But I’m stuff other than that too, I guess.
Right. Has anything you ever written offended people close to you?
The everyone I’ve had sex with thing, yeah. I didn’t tell anyone. My one close friend he got [all], “Oh I’m just another name on the list.” But that was like two years after I didn’t think anyone would be interested. But no one else. I think that’s the only offended case. But then we’re fine.
You’re a writer. Do you go on book tours–do people come and talk to you? Do you get interviewed a lot? What is the experience like?
Lately it’s just been me at my dad’s apartment alone. Doing readings sometimes. The only book tour–it wasn’t really a book tour. I went on a reading tour with Jordan, Mallory, and Sam Pink. In this past fall the Midwest and that was four cities in the Midwest. It was so much fun.
How did they receive you guys?
Pretty well–we were in Louisville, KY and there were like three people who showed up at the reading, and there were six of us reading, so that was really funny. And yeah people will talk to me and stuff like that. Usually the stuff I’ve done recently in New York is like this internet community people who already know each other on the internet who are just like, “oh hey from Facebook.” It’s kind of just natural to talk now I guess because of that unspoken context.
Cool. So you’re working on your live blog right now–do you have any books coming up in the future or still writing the other one?
Just this one.
Okay cool. That’s awesome.
The other one [...] sold out.
Oh really? Congrats!
It’s an ebook now.
What do you think your audience is like? Do you have anything to say to them? To your readers?
There’s one called MDMA, which is just one long cut of Tao and I on MDMA. There’s one called Mumblecore, which has subtitles I edited and stuff that’s kind of about how we started meeting and how we got married and stuff.
Did you guys get married real quick?
Probably about three weeks of officially romantically dating.
Oh wow that’s wild.
But we knew each other for years.
As fellow writers?
Yeah but there’s a fourth film coming up, but we’re not sure what it will be yet.
And you’re going to work on it together?
That’s awesome. I’ve read a couple of his books like Eeeee Eee Eeee. I really liked that one, but what do you think of his work?
Well it was actually my ex-boyfriend from 2007 that gave me Bed, the short story book of his. And I read on an airplane cover to cover like “Ohmygod this person has thoughts like I do!” And I looked at the book and like, “Huh he has a blog” and so that’s really kind of what started getting [me] into writing on the internet mostly seriously. I kind of started a blog–I wondered if I’ll ever talk to Tao. And he found my blog.
And you guys just had a connection. That’s awesome. Freaking blogs rule! I love how they bring people together.
Do you see him as a successful writer? Is that a direction that you want to go in, or do you want to do something a little bit different?
I don’t think that he thinks that he’s successful, but I think he is. I’d like to–he has a book deal. And I’d like something like that. But it does seem like a hard style to sustain. I think he put everything into it, no backup plans. I dropped out of college and quit my job so I could be writing–like focus, no back up plan, but now I kind of regret that a little bit. I want to get like a job-job when I move here because it seems really hard.
What kind of job-job would you have?
I think working at a nursing home or something? Helping others close to death. I don’t know just kind of anything. I miss interacting with people normally.
Interview by Nasa. Follow her on twitter @nasaHDZDH
Posted By: nasa on Aug 05, 2013