Interviewed by Rachel Wild
Read Maria Robinson’s fiction piece, Laugh Track
Rachel: This piece is a brilliant bit of flash. What was the starting point for it?
Maria: Some of my ideas arrive all at once, but most take shape slowly, the way the lint in my pocket eventually gathers itself into a little felted pebble—flecks of ideas/impressions/questions/observations pilling together until some natural coalescence occurs. This piece was like that: I have a perpetual fascination with memory and forgetting, the construction of identity, and the elastic nature of time; I had been reading Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women alongside a book about narrative personae and thinking about the blurry line between truth and fiction, the way some works of art tarnish while others burnish as social mores/political consciousnesses evolve, and the fact that art is often what lights the way toward that evolution and in so doing potentially invites (or perhaps urges) its own obsolescence; all stewed together with some bits of truth embroidered with invention. The piece’s starting point—a real article I read about the mind’s eye—was actually the last ingredient (loose thread?) that finally brought the rest together.
The Seinfeld scene is typical of television’s portrayal of women 20-30 years ago. To what extent do you think this has changed now?
Not enough! I look forward to the day when this piece is obsolete.
The narrator’s inability to see things clearly in her ‘mind’s eye’ is countered by the sharpness of her words. How do you ‘see’ things, in words or pictures?
I definitely “see” in words. My thoughts are something like a perpetual real-time möbius ticker tape Jenny Holzer text projection—if you could tap straight into my brain, what you encountered might not be coherent, exactly, but you would be able to read along.
What are you working on now, and how is it going?
I’m working on quite a few things. I have two novels in different stages of progress, and I’ve been writing a lot of flash/micros (often as exercises, but sometimes they take off on their own). I also have a few essay ideas kicking around, and I write a poem now and again. I have a robust phone-notes practice that helps me manage it all. For several years, my employment situation was not conducive to a steady writing practice, so I did some rearranging, and I’ve been working through the backlog ever since!