apkr asked: What's your writing methodology?
It really depends on what I’m writing. For the bloggy longformish stuff you see here, I’m hugely over-reliant on iNsPiRaTiOn, which is gross and frustrating, and I wrote about it here. I find if I have to take notes or plan an essay, it dies in the note-taking/planning stage. This is a habit I’m actively trying to break; my drafts folder is a first paragraph graveyard. So when the urge strikes, I tend to write like there’s a gun at my back, and I publish out of sheer adrenaline, which means I tend to put out a lot of stuff that could stand some editing (some of which I do after the fact).
I like writing about movies and books because I feel equipped to handle them. Most visual art and music I don’t have as much of a vocabulary for. I’ve tried my hand at comics criticism, but I don’t really think it’s for me. I’m wary of writing personal essays, so I try to keep it to anecdotes.
Screenwriting is a whole different story because I’ve never written a screenplay alone. If I’m generating material out of whole cloth I tend to feel safer working with a partner. I’m better at developing stories through collaboration than working on my own, at this point, though I’m hoping that’s not a forever-problem.
I’ve gotten a huge education from my dad; I grew up hearing pitches and reading scripts, and as a result I’ve internalized a lot about structure and storytelling. He and I have worked on stuff together, and he’s a tremendous editor/coach, so he’s been pretty invaluable.
As for nuts and bolts, my current partner and I start with a loose outline for each draft and then just write it (over Google Docs because we live on opposite coasts). We have a pretty natural rapport, so on our better days, it doesn’t really feel like work—just having a conversation.
iamdavidbrothers asked: Tessa! We don't talk music enough. What are you into in a general sense, like mood or genre or whatever, and what are you listening to lately?
Oh, I’m actually really glad you asked me this because music is such a fraught subject for me in general, and I tend to avoid talking about it/voicing strong opinions. Music is a very private thing for me, and in many ways I don’t give a lot of time to it in my current life, which, as I’m writing it out, sounds pretty sad.
A big part of how I experience and appreciate music involves privacy and time; I still haven’t really learned how to discover music outside of a car. And I don’t tend to seek out a lot of new music, either, though I end up hearing a decent amount living with Geoff, who is my big source for hip-hop (you too, actually!). It’s pretty safe to say that whatever he’s digging, I’m probably digging too. Except for Drake. Sorry, Geoff.
But truthfully it takes a lot of time spent alone with a song or an album before it really carves any pathways through my brain. My taste ends up being really eclectic and scattered because increasingly I respond more to individual songs than I do to albums or larger bodies of work (high school me is screaming).
Janelle Monáe and Solange Knowles are two of my favorite artists. I got into them around the same time (four or five years ago? I was in college and my friend Leon and I would listen to them at our kitchen table a lot, in between arguments about doing the dishes), and they both keep getting better and doing great shit (in totally different ways), which is really exciting.
I had a big punk phase in high school (inasmuch as a dork like me can—I listened to a lot of punk music and like, read books about it because I was too wholesome a kid to get myself in any real trouble), and the only real vestige of that is my undying love for Iggy Pop. “Search and Destroy” is my go-to karaoke jam.
Kanye is up there, with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy being on top for me because that self-love/self-loathing thing is something I hope to one day not relate to, but here we are.
The Gene Vincent song “Cat Man” is perfect.
I like Lana Del Rey for her intentional camp (though some would argue there’s no such thing) and Katy Perry for her less intentional camp. I like dealing with personas, as previous writings may have suggested.
I like the theme from The Third Man because when I listen to it while walking down the street, it’s like being in on a joke that no one else is.
Tiny Tim’s music makes me genuinely happy.
That barely scratches the surface. I’m generally all over the place and short of attention span with music, and what thrills me one minute may not the next.
This picture of my turtle Ice that my dad posted on Twitter is easily the best thing I’ve seen all week.
(I should add that the turtle isn’t stuck like that. He rolls onto his back in his little pond and then flips back over like the chill dude he is.)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, giving us the unvarnished truth.
The promise of Carrie delivered.
I tried doing this a while ago but I was doing it for free and it kind of lost its steam but I want to do this again. For money. So, hey tumblr, for $30 I will paint your pet, post it here, and then mail it to you. All you have to do is email me a picture of your pet and its name (tully at tullymills dot com). Multiple photos would be great if they can be provided. You can tell me a little bit about your pet too if you like. Each painting will be watercolor and 7” x 10 1/4” and it might get weird.
You’d be an actual fool not to. Tully is the best. Just look at my dog in the top picture! LOOK AT HER.
I have a lot of beliefs, but the one that I am, perhaps, the most committed to is the belief that some day this book will just organically come into my life.
I will own this book, and I will own it without buying it or having it bought for me as a gift.* I hope it happens years from now. Decades, even.
Here are some ways I will possibly come to own My Passion for Design:
- I find it on the street.
- Someone who has it is moving and wants to get rid of it.
- I find it in a thrift store or at a yard sale for a single-digit amount of dollars (the exception to my no-buying rule).
- A ghost leaves it on my pillow.
- Barbra herself gives it to me out of a stack she keeps in her home or car. “Take one. I have zillions.”
- It is presented to me as an award for my achievements.
This I believe very strongly indeed.
*My boyfriend once told me that he thought about getting it for me for my birthday or Christmas, but he knew it would violate the terms of my belief, so he didn’t. What a prince, right?
It seems weird to me that the first blog I had was almost exclusively art. I think of myself so much as a writer at this point that it’s hard for me to remember how long it took me to get there.
So my first blog was my drawings and silly things I enjoyed.
The painting above is my favorite piece on it. I take great pride in the fact that for years, it was the top result for a Google Image search of “Alan Cumming Martha Stewart.” It is based on a real photo of a real thing that happened and which remains one of my favorite pictures of all time:
I know. It’s art already.
My dear friend Leon and I had this picture on our fridge when we lived together. I made the painting for him as a birthday present, nearly four years ago.
So tonight, I Googled it again. Just to see where I landed. And while my painting was indeed among the results, I saw that the image did not link back to the original painting on my blog.
Look, we all have dreams, right? It gets better. Here is Alan, re: the painting (at the conclusion of a really nice blog post about aging, actually):
"I looked for the photograph of me and Martha from the time I learned how to make quesadillas on her show but couldn’t locate it. However, some lovely person has done this drawing of it, which I found on the interweb."
The fact that he was out there, specifically looking for that image, makes me happier than anything, happier even than him finding my piece in the process.
Anyway, that’s it. That’s all.