Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Where Writers Write: Patrick Wensink

Welcome to TNBBC's brand new blog feature!

Where Writers Write is a weekly series that will feature a different author every Wednesday as they showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where some of TNBBC's favorite authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is Patrick Wensink. Patrick wrote a collection of bizarro fiction called Sex Dungeon For Sale a few years ago. He just released a new novel and book-on-cassette titled Broken Piano For President (which I am really excited to read). He also makes his own Wentastic BBQ sauce, and from time to time might be found authoring greeting cards. He made his TNBBC debut back in 2010 when we interviewed him here

Today, he joins us again, to show off his extremely green and incredibly messy writing space!

Where Patrick Wensink Writes

Love the green walls and index cards

My office is a shithole.  Or so my wife tells me a couple times a week.  To me, it’s not so much a shithole as a meticulously managed chaos, all neatly packed within square footage smaller than most bathrooms. And for reasons that would require a stunningly large therapy bill, this cyclone of crap is the only place I can focus.

A quick survey of this room finds:

  • A half-bag of confetti.
  • Dozens of crumpled pastel Post-its (Featuring such stumble-drunk bits of wisdom as “There is a loop and I am out of it” and “Big Shadow Shits Little Shadow.”).
  • A plastic tiger mask.
  • Crumbs.
  • A rumpled souvenir flag from Turks and Caicos.
  • An On the Road with Charles Kuralt DVD.
  • A seafoam green suitcase filled with an ancient 4-track recorder. Plus, dozens of tapes from back when I was in bands that I don’t have the heart to throw away.
  • A fantasy football trophy I was supposed to pass on several years ago (My team, the Unicornholes, was something like the 2009 champions).
  • Crumbs.
  • Easily, 1000 CDs (I was a rock critic for many years). All of which I have listened to.
  • Hundreds of books. Maybe half of which I’ve actually read. (Just stacked on my desk, we have Roget’s Thesaurus, JA Tyler’s A Shiny, Unused Heart, Tim Kinsella’s Karaoke Singer’s Guide to Self Defense, Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop and John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.)
  • A broken DVD player.
  • Some contraption called “The One-Armed Boozer,” which was some 1970s gag gift that converts a liquor bottle into a slot machine that doles out shots.
  • More crumbs.
  • An enormous cardboard poster of Sting encouraging literacy.

Sting promotes reading!
I purchased that ridiculous Sting poster at a Dayton, OH library sale in 2002. It is the centerpiece of the room. The poster features the man born Gordon Sumner, wearing some leftover costume from Game of Thrones, reading a book next to…a castle. Nice work, Sting. It’s not like reading doesn’t already have a pretentious enough reputation amongst America’s youth.

During my decade of Sting-ownership, especially the past six years, he’s helped me write my latest novel, Broken Piano for President (Lazy Fascist Press). “READ” it says in enormous blue letters above the Brit’s bleach blonde mane. The poster has hung in every pseudo-office I’ve ever scraped together since starting the book in 2006. From that crumbling duplex, to that house with no heating where I wore a winter coat while typing, to that walk-in closet I used in Portland, to my current shithole in Louisville, KY…Sting’s always looking over my shoulder, forcing Charles Dickens down my throat.

And Sting will stay if this cleaning lady’s nightmare of an office ever moves again. In some weird way, Sting is motivation. Not because his lacy cuffs and collar promise a whimsical world hidden within literature, but because he sucks so badly. (Remember, I was a rock critic. “Sting Sucks” is embossed on the back of our business cards. Union rules.)
I was born to do the exact opposite of what Sting asks. If he sings, “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” I lose faith faster and change the station.

When the king of new age prisses—a man who once titled an album The Dream of the Blue Turtles for God’s sake—urges me to donate to UNICEF, I hunt down a Filipino sweatshop to invest in.

meticulously managed chaos
Whenever the former Police frontman has told me to, “Read,” I’ve defied him. Instead, I force myself to “Write.”

Broken Piano went through about 25 revisions during its lifespan. And as the garbage piled higher in my office, the novel got better. I’d like to think if Sting and his smug face weren’t watching, I might have given up, or worse listened to his music. Instead, I penned a book I’m very proud of, concerning such un-Stingly topics as productive alcoholism, noise rock bands, hamburgers more addictive than meth and cosmonauts.

Sting, you might have just earned yourself a half-bag of confetti to say, “thank you.” Watch your mailbox.

Check back next week to see where Collin Kelley works HIS magic!

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