Sean Taylor on Great Failed Attempts and Grand Pianos on Frozen Lakes

An interview with Sean Taylor, from The Write Stuff series over at SF Weekly:

Sean Taylor is the author of the short story collection Everything To Do With You, published by Seven7h Tangent Press and available at Viracocha, where Mr. Taylor can often be found. He is currently at work on a second book.

When people ask what do you do, you tell them… ?

I tend bar, wait tables, and write short fiction.

What’s your biggest struggle — work or otherwise?

Selling a truth that more often feels like a lie. Making the right face in those crazy carnival mirrors. Throwing a celebration in a confetti factory, or selling snow to the eskimos. Driving south uphill and from time to time convincing myself I’m not dying.

If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?

Judge everyone everywhere all the time with headphones in your ears and classical piano playing. Everyone will become more beautiful, more complex, and somehow they will all have these wonderful sounds in common.

Do you consider yourself successful? Why?

I don’t think I want to. After mountain climbers scale the highest peak they go home successful, in writing I don’t want to go home. I’ve never heard of writers retiring. I don’t have time for success, I’ve got a world of learning to do with all these great failed attempts.

When you’re sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?

It’s really just the song, the song and the writing, because five years ago I said this needed to be played at my funeral and like a good tattoo my mind has not begun to change.

Describe your week in the wilderness. It doesn’t have to be ideal.

Ideally I would go fishing with my father and grandfather. I would chop cords of wood with Raymond Carver. I would fashion spears and set traps with my friends Jordan and Pat. Then at the end of the day I could go for nothing less than to listen to a grand piano on a great frozen lake.

What’s wrong with society today?

It feels like fooling someone out of their property and hard work is more often rewarded than actual hard work and ingenuity. Jobs that don’t actually produce a service or a product are a waste. Make art, teach people, make food, feed people, make houses, house people, make cars, drive people, etc. Also, the assembly line is great for reproducing a single commodity, thus it should never be applied to the education system of a country supposedly priding itself with free thinkers and hopeful entrepreneurs.

What is your fondest memory?

Reaching 145 miles an hour for a good clean 10 seconds on the I-5 freeway headed south down California some years ago.

How many times do you fall in love each day?

It isn’t about falling in love for me, it’s about listening. It’s about seeing other people in love. It is safe to say for every bus or train you board someone is madly in love. They may hide it, or go lips ear to ear the whole ride, but I think some of their energy is always there, spilling into the aisles. I have a 40-minute commute to work most days, about 20 on foot and 20 on the train, and in all honesty I’d love an answer but I’m pretty terrible at math.

What is art? Is it necessary? Why?

Art is epiphanies, thoughts, ideas, feelings, conclusions, retaliations, answers, questions, desires, perfections, and failures. Art is the attempt of making all things intangible tangible, which is easy to say. Art is the language of expression. That is all it needs to be. It isn’t so much necessary as it is inevitable and why not?

What kind of work would you like to do? Or: what kind of writing do you most admire?

I admire the work of a writer that doesn’t require their name centered at the top of the page as a header. I’ve seen documentaries about a knockoff Vincent Van Gogh and fabricated Jackson Pollocks but never literature pulled into such question. I want to see a man with a microscope saying, “No this couldn’t be a Kundera, you see the way this comma is placed,” or “This must be a fake, Camus would never use such a simile when referring to a woman.” In short I guess I don’t want to sign them, I want my dirty fingerprints all over my canvases.

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