Dan: Are you reading anything right now, or have you read anything recently that is worth mentioning?
Robert: I just finished The Pale King, which was really great and works even though it wasn't finished.
Dan: Does music inspire or motivate you to write? If so, what kind of music?
Robert: Yes absolutely. Ever since high school I've been pretty into music, to the point of being a nerd about it, and it (music) has been a big influence on my style and interests as a writer. I was exposed to that creative DIY/independent/underground music scene, and, although I don't think I really realized it at the time, that started shaping an internal dialogue and world view for me. More recently, bands like Beach House, Tame Impala, and The Strokes have influenced me on a more aesthetic level. I don't know, there are too many to list. There's basically an evolving flow of music, among other things, pushing my style. The connection between music and writing for me is one reason I was happy to find out about Sleeping in a Torn Quilt / Dreaming of Gold and be a part of it. I think that music is something that provides common ground to a diverse array of creative individuals, and creates a sense of community where everyone can produce what they want and have a supportive audience of peers-- small releases shared between everyone contributing to that community. Right now that seems like an important part of building a career, it's a foundation and motivation to keep working. It feels like, or maybe I'm just more aware of it, or just optimistic, but it feels like we're at an exciting time in our culture, where a lot of talented people are producing great work all over our country, and there are these bubbles of community everywhere putting out work. Maybe this is just how everyone who is 25 feels.
Dan: Who are some of your favorite authors? Favorite novels?
Robert: John Fante, David Foster Wallace, Rimbaud, Marilyn Hacker, Robert Creeley, David Berman, William Carlos Williams, there are lots.
Dan: Are you one of those people who don’t own a TV? Do you have any favorite TV Shows? Favorite movies?
Robert: I don't have a TV, but I do have netflix and a computer. Some of my favorites are Carl Sagan's Cosmos, pretty much most shows about space, the Simpsons (seasons 3-9), Twin Peaks, 30 Rock, Louie. Movie-wise: Dr. Strangelove, The Fifth Element, High Fidelity (I probably watched this movie too many times in high school), The Big Lebowski (of course), Three Kings (or I Heart Huckabees).
Dan: At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Robert: I started writing in high school and started my undergrad work in a creative writing BFA, but switched to US History because I was more interested in playing soccer and drinking beer (that seems funny to think about now). After college I moved to Colorado with my girlfriend, and I was just working at a rock climbing gym and basically being a climbing-bum in a beautiful place. Anyway, she and I split up (but are still good friends actually), and then I read 1984 and started reading a lot and decided to go back to writing and decided that's what I wanted to do with my life. That's pretty embryonic, but the basic gist of it.
Dan: Tell us about your writing process.
Robert: I tend to just walk around and look at things and then write that down. Sometimes there's moments of inspiration where a whole poem will come out of nowhere. It's great when that happens, otherwise I just spend a lot of time editing, loving and hating the things I write. I feel like most people who write feel this way. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Dan: How do you define success as a writer? Have you been successful?
Robert: Being able to live a life where you actually have time to write and travel. And don't wind up hating the things you do in order to live that life. I'm working on it.
Dan: Do you have words of wisdom about writing that you want to pass on to novelists and writers out there who are starting out?
Robert: It's probably best to take everything I say with a grain of salt, because I don't know very much, and have not achieved very much, and am just starting out myself, but I would say: 1) don't get stuck in an ideology, 2) collect experience, see a lot.
Dan: What should readers walk away from your work knowing? How should they feel?
Robert: Since I don't have any books yet, I think in general you should walk away feeling like you've been through something. You should see the world a little differently.
Dan: What is your End of the World Playlist?
Robert: Oh jeez, here's an attempt, most of this is just what I've been listening to lately:
Diiv - How Long Have You Known?
Beach House - Silver Soul
Beacon - See Through You
The Beach Boys - Vega-Tables (or Surfs Up, or Sloop John B, too many good ones. I've been listening to the Smile Sessions a lot, hence the double Beach Boys appearance.)
Galaxie 500 - Fourth of July
Television - Marquee Moon
Tame Imapala - Half Full Glass of Wine
The Beatles - Abbey Road Medley
Dan: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Robert: I'm not sure I have readers, but if so, “Thank you!”, and to future readers, “Nice to meet you.”
Robert's Bio: In addition to the stuff I said up there, here is a brief 3rd person bio: Robert Balun has done his best to travel and become a well-rounded person. He writes with the perspective of the post-9/11 student-loan generation, and tries to do as much as possible. Robert has been a reader for the Earshot NYC and Tribes reading series, and his writing has appeared in the journals O Sweet Flowery Roses and Promethean. He lives in Brooklyn New York while he pursues his MFA at City College. Robert is an adjunct instructor in the English department at City, and is a curator for the City College Master's Reading Series.
I'm on Twitter @makingpillars. I put things there. I'll probably have a Tumblr or something at some point.
Sleeping in a Torn Quilt / Dreaming of Gold: http://www.facebook.com/tornquilt
Big City Lit: http://www.nycbigcitylit.com/
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