Research Notes · 06/12/2020

Life of the Party

Our Research Notes series invites authors to describe their process for a recent book, with “research” defined as broadly as they like. This week, Tea Hacic-Vlahovic writes about Life of the Party from Clash Books.

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What does a writer do? Not a goddamn thing. They know how to think or how to drink. That’s our talent. I didn’t research Life of the Party. I lived it, bitch!

My early twenties had a sense of purpose. I blindly followed my feelings everywhere, mostly into trouble. The problems I found wove themselves into a great story. Can I take the credit for that? Absolutely! But it has nothing to do with typing.

Every good novel is based on reality. “You can only tell the truth through fiction.” Who said that? Probably a drag queen. Anyway, to write about my writing process I must write about my living process. Here’s how to live life and therefore write:

1. Lust: Crushes drive you to do the most insane things. Crushes run your narrative, they’re your plot, your stakes, your goal and your ultimate triumph or loss. The crush chooses you. The despair that it brings is a gift. Don’t ignore it!

2. Gluttony: Food has run my life and ruined most of it. Neglecting my need for sustenance has built my strong character. I am proud of the suffering I’ve endured! But I don’t recommend it. Food provides your life-story with comfort or lack thereof. It sets the mood of your narrative. So what’s your style? Cheap greasy pizza? A plump spoon of caviar? Or iced coffee sloshing around a plastic cup.

3. Greed: Longing for things, I mean things things, like clothes, does not make you superficial. STUFF builds your identity. Still, choose ONE thing to be greedy for: fashion or travel or drugs, not all the above. Otherwise you’re unbearable and nobody will be friends with you. (If you don’t have friends who will you write about?)

4. Sloth: A weekend spent hung-over in bed is essential to the writer’s spirit. Even better: a whole week in bed tormented about ten texts you sent or a nervous breakdown you made hundreds of people witness. The more you loathe yourself the closer you get to the truth: you’re shit and so is everyone else. AKA: fair game to demolish in your writing.

5. Wrath: There is no purer motive for writing than revenge. If anyone says they’re writing anything for any reason other than revenge, they’re a liar or a sucker. That’s why writing for school doesn’t make sense unless you hate your professor. Or better, are in love him.

6. Envy: Being jealous of people more successful than you is the only reason to be successful. If you’re really lucky you may be successful enough to inspire envy in other writers who will become more successful than you. And the torture continues.

7. Pride: The moment your writing is published or praised you are allowed to feel proud for approximately one evening, during which you will reach the highest high of your pathetic little life. By the time you tuck yourself into bed you’ll be back to the lowest of lows. As dawn descends, it will dawn on you: you’ve got to write something new.

THE END

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Tea Hacic-Vlahovic is a Croatian-American writer based in Los Angeles. Formerly a columnist for Vice and Wired Italy, contributing editor of Wonderland Magazine, director of Bullett TV and contributor to i-D, Dazed, Oyster, Flaunt and Autre Magazine. She’s the founder and creative director of a satirical art magazine based in Milan called STAI ZITTA. Life of the Party is her first novel.