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Q and A

May 06, 2010; Angelaaah Asks:

There's this thing I call The Big Girl. She's a paper mache' bust of a giantess. I've been working on her for a long time. I'm too embarrassed to say how long. Anyway, lately I think I'm really on a roll with her. No more spending unbelievable amounts of time on her nose, then seeing it's terrible and cutting it off. It's virtually steady progress every time I work on her. Finally. Maybe she could be entirely done within a month. Best case scenario, she's fabulous and I can sell her for a little loot. Worse case, she's not so fabulous and teaches me a lesson about my limits. She then sits in a corner of the apt. and gets covered with dirty laundry. Not fabulous and not a hamper would be fine, too. I'm really enjoying this work. I've also got three puppet heads that are much closer to being finished. If I put the big girl away, I could finish all three puppets at least in that month that I think the big girl needs. Of course, the muse could abandon me and I won't do anything at all. Or I could decide that it's a good time to redecorate. Is it any surprise that I rarely finish any projects? Since that seems to be a real issue, should I stop what I'm doing and finish one puppet, aka the easiest thing? Or should I stick with The Big Girl because she has the most potential? Or on some level do I know that she's just too big to deal with, therefore impossible, therefore a sure way to stop myself from finishing anything? Thank you for any guidance you can offer, Stacey Richter.

Stacey answers:

Angelaaah, you have to finish something as soon as possible. Right now, go go go! It's okay if it sucks, because sucking is something that can happen when things are finished, but it's not okay to never finish something, because then you will feel empty and weird inside. When the wind blows, it will blow through your chest, around the heart area, and this is very bad. Making something that sucks is embarrassing. Never finishing anything is tragic. Work on the puppet heads. Turn the Big Girl to the wall. The Big Girl is staring at you--sure, maybe you haven't finished her eyes yet but I still think she's staring at you. Actually, she being sort of an asshole. If you finish the puppet heads first, she'll start to stare at you with respect.

May 01, 2010; Liam, an Evangelist of his own tastes... Asks:

What was up with the 80's? Were the 70's that fucked-up that it led to the uber-fucked-up-ness of the 80's? Did Reagan bring out our crazy? Was it "The Shining?" Were those years truly as weird and as lame as they look to me? Did you flourish in those, your formative, years? Should I imply in this question that you were born in 1981, or is that too transparent and condescending? Do you ever miss the 80's? Why?

Thanks for any input.

Your loyal, wall-eyed, frothing-at-the-mouth adulator,
Liam G.

Stacey answers:

Liam! The 80's were sort of weird, yes, but they weren't nearly as bad as the 70's. The 70's was the decade of divorce, the decade in which everyone who hadn't tried drugs in the 60's tried them, and a special time for grown-ups to explore their own headspace without worrying too much about the kids. I know so many people who've admitted to being their own babysitters in the 70's that it must have been a cultural norm, and when little kids are left alone, all sorts of bad things can happen. Plus there was the Vietnam war, a recession, an oil shortage, and, as the cherry on top, Richard M. Nixon.

The 80's lacked the dramatic social changes of the previous two decades so in comparison they do seem kind of boring. Reagan was weird, yes. He was an actor, and that's just wrong. I sometimes think of 80's as the last gasp of white-person pop culture: MTV, monster trucks, panty hose, power ballads, Tammy Faye Baker--all were made for and by white people, a notoriously boring group. And the lack of social upheaval revealed something else that I, at least, had forgotten about during the 70's: the Cold War was still going on! Ouch. You know the way people talk now, about how they're going to raise chickens and live on lichen after the weird global warming shit hits the fan? It was like that then, but with nuclear bombs instead.

But there was good stuff in the 80's too: Prince, the Cars, ponytails on the tops of girls' heads, big boobs (mysteriously out of style for the previous 20 years), snail mail, 321 Contact, and other stuff. I'm sure there's a lot more. I just can't think of it right now.

Apr 25, 2010; Steve B. Asks:

I really like your Question and Answer format, but of course it's been done. What would you think of a Question and Answer AND Question My Answer format (QnAnQMA), wherein you answer a question and then, a few hours (or years) later, you come back and say, essentially, "What the hell was I thinking?"? This would give us insight into your process, reveal you as human, and generally make the rest of us feel better about ourselves. Unless I'm wrong about that.

Stacey answers:

Hi Steve. That's a great idea! The only problem is that this forum doesn't exist to make you feel better about yourself, it exists to make me feel better about you feeling better about yourself, whether you do or not. Also, I'm not exactly human, in the technical sense.

Apr 23, 2010; Natalie S, Asks:

I'm writing a paper about you for my last college class. Would you be willing to throw your support behind me as a student (and a writer) so my professor will be impressed, give me a good grade, and I can graduate next week? Pretty please?

Stacey answers:

Natalie, I support you! I throw my support at you, I fling it, I use a slingshot and a catapult. Please watch your head.

Apr 21, 2010; The Shadow Asks:

How can I keep it real? How do you keep it real?

Stacey answers:

By shaving your head. I actually don't keep it real by shaving my head, I keep it real by thinking of the scene in Clueless where Cher's boyfriend is shaving his head and saying, "I'm just keeping it real. I'm just keeping it real."

Apr 19, 2010; littleshirlybeans Asks:

Wow! Wow! All I can say right now is wow! I love this Q and A and I love this new website. I've been living under a self-imposed rock out in Asia for the last several years and didn't know you had a new book and this new website and WOW! As you may already be able to tell, I'm a big fan. I devoured My Date With Satan, recommend it constantly and reread it regularly. I can't wait to get your new book. Anyway, my husband and I are traveling to Tucson the see David Sedaris this weekend and I was wondering if you could give us some recommendations for things to do in Tucson. Anything from "this is a great little coffee shop" to "stand on this corner at 4 a.m. and you will see more weenie dogs than you've ever seen in your life." Also, do you think learning to draw animals will help with my writing? Would this be a worthwhile use of me time? All my best, shirlybeans

Stacey answers:

Thanks shirlybeans! You are nice, smart, and pretty. I'm intrigued by the self-imposed rock in Asia. For your trip to Tucson, I recommend you have dinner at El Guero Canelo. You have to go to the one on S. 12th Ave. (there are two, but this one's in the Mexican part of town). It's sort of like an elaborate snack bar with a big covered porch. It's a great time of year to eat outside, and on the weekends they have a band playing accordion music and sometimes little kids run around and dance. You might want to try the house specialty, the Sonoran hot dog, a hot dog on a bun covered with salsa and cheese and sour cream and beans and mayonnaise and mustard and jalapenos and more.

Another great thing to do in Tucson is to go to the Desert Museum and see the raptor free flight, but I think it may be over for the season (the "season" is winter), but you should check. The Desert Museum is really a zoo/botanical garden combo, and it's nice there even without the raptors, especially if you haven't seen much of the desert before, but if it's hot most of the animals will be asleep and you will get sunburned and it's hard to beat the thrill of watching trained hawks fly over your head, then land on some lady's gloved hand and eat a dead baby mouse. Dead baby mouse? Dead baby mouse.

So, David Sedaris is reading at the Tucson Music Hall where I've spent many hours trying to amuse myself. Outside, surrounding the polar bear tank, there's an ever-proliferating array of public art, most of which glows, and you might want to take two or three minutes to contemplate it. You also might want to take a few minutes to contemplate the polar bear tank, which is not actually a polar bear tank but a public fountain with perplexing aesthetic qualities--it it ugly or beautiful or ugly-beautiful or beautiful-ugly or kitschy perfect or just wrong? No one can decide and it is a great mystery. Then, inside the lobby, it's kind of fun to put your head inside the big indentations running the length of the cast concrete walls. There's a weird acoustic effect in there, like a chorus of monster voices, at least when the lobby is bustling. Duck your head in and out to get the full effect. Also, there are an intriguing number of ancient cobwebs inside--it's like it's own ecosystem. You may feel self-conscious when you do this, but in my experience no one will be looking at you (though I'm usually in the Music Hall for Tucson Symphony concerts, when all the patrons are treading carefully so as not to break a hip).

Yes, I think learning to draw animals will help with your writing! Absolutely. It's always good to look at anything carefully, and to have another art form to flee to when the writing one is driving you insane. Plus, animals inspire feelings of tenderness and love and will make your writing cuter.

Apr 07, 2010; Marketing mama Asks:

I feel like you need to find a way to market yourself as a Q and A answerer. Could you bundle all this stuff up and sell it in book form, maybe over the holidays? Or have a seperate Q and A "Stacey Explains it all" website in which you get people to advertise lipgloss and coffins or whatever, over on the side there, and therefore, generate some revenue while still keeping this a free feature? It's something to think about. You have a clear product and demand thing going on here.

Stacey answers:

Thanks for your encouragement, Marketing mama. I like how you throw around the phrase "generate some revenue." I've thought about the same thing but like almost everything else I think about, I haven't done anything about it. I do know a brilliant marketing person here but whenever I see her she's drunk. Maybe I should try to catch her earlier in the day.

Apr 06, 2010; Teacher's Pet Asks:

Hi Stacey, What are your favorite books/stories/authors? And what are your favorite movies? Do you read blogs? If so, what are your faves?

Stacey answers:

Teacher's Pet,

I love so many books and stories that it's very hard to zero in on a short list. A few of the short stories that have amazed and obsessed me for many years are "Gimple the Fool," by Isaac Bashevis Singer, "A Hunger Artist," by Franz Kafka, "Good Country People," by Flannery O'Connor, and "A Distant Episode," by Paul Bowles. There are many, many more.

I don't really have a favorite author because there are so many wonderful books. The best I can do is to mention a few authors I've been reading and loving lately: John Updike, W.G. Sebald, and Roberto Bolano.

I'm sure I have more favorite movies but right now I can only think of two: The Night of the Hunter and The Shining.

I don't read any blogs regularly because I haven't found any I like that much.

Apr 01, 2010; Dr. Forbes Asks:

I feel that you must have foreseen when you started this Q. and A. that it would eventually devolve into dating advice; did you? Seems like a great forum for you, so why not make it a regular gig? Also, how is the long-form fiction thing coming along?

Stacey answers:

Dear Dr. Forbes,

You're right, I did anticipate it, but I don't really think of it as a devolution. I like giving dating advice. Our social lives are vital to us; even if we can arrange to spend our days curled up under the furniture (which is where I'd prefer to be), we still spend all night dreaming about our social connections. Also, answering dating questions feeds into my evil plan, which is to fuck with people's lives via the internet. I would like to make it a regular gig. Are you hiring?

The long form fiction is going well. It's taken me a really long time but I think I'm finally starting to figure it out.

Mar 30, 2010; Phoebe Asks:

Stacey! I have girl-crushes on you and Beyonce. Is there a cure?

Stacey answers:

No.

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