Amy Gerstler

Files and Data

Location: Los Angeles, CA | Date: March 20, 2014

"I think actual writing is almost all on computers now, but note-taking is probably 75% notebook and pen, and 25% take notes on the computer."

From interview section 1, "Devices and Composition"
0:00:00

"The names change, because I was so happy when I realized that you could change the names."

From interview section 2, "File Naming Conventions and Draft Management"
0:07:19

"So I couldn't get any teaching jobs teaching writing initially, but I did get hired as a kind of art critic. So, I started teaching in art school. And then as I published more and wrote more, and did more different kinds of journalism, I was able to get teaching jobs teaching writing."

From interview section 3, "Writing and Teaching Career"
0:14:46

"I would write in notebooks and then at a certain point transfer what I had to the typewriter. Because the typewriter was something—it isn't actually easy to revise on a manual typewriter. I mean, you have to roll the thing out and mark it up."

From interview section 4, "Initial Compositional Practices"
0:22:47

"It really divided the sheep from the goats, because there were writers I knew who had the kinds of minds, or still do, that really worked well with computer interface, if that's even the right vocabulary. They just took to it. And there were other people who were always—it was always mysterious to them."

From interview section 5, "Switching to the Personal Computer"
0:29:38

"I still use libraries, and I still haunt the remaining dusty, old, funky, used bookstores. But even with libraries now, if I'm looking for something specific, I can look online. It just saves time."

From interview section 6, "Composing with the Internet (Research and Libraries)"
0:40:09

"I liked to do, you know, what sometimes gets called, you know, 'multi-vocal' stuff. And I have a weird fondness for italics. I always have. You can indicate different speakers, different voices, different—you know? I didn't used to be able to use italics, make things bold, make things bigger."

From interview section 7, "Typeface and Pre-Google Writing"
0:51:25

"I did a lot of cutting with scissors and taping together with scotch tape. I did more and more and more of that. So, you can't believe how happy I was."

From interview section 8, "Pre-Computer Revision Practices"
0:55:05

"Sometimes some of them survive the process, and sometimes some of them are, you know, things that end up leading to other things, but end up getting discarded. And sometimes some of them are red herrings, and the thing doesn't end up going anywhere."

From interview section 9, "Revision Now (Intentions and Attentions)"
1:00:49

"One of the things workshops usually teaches you is how to survive workshops, and how to be in them. But I think things that have taught me about revision are showing work to other people, being in workshops, reading, reading literature, and also sometimes reading craft stuff."

From interview section 10, "Learning to Improvise"
1:03:16

"Sometimes people are wrong, but sometimes you're like, 'Oh, god. That. Uh-oh, you're right.'"

From interview section 11, "Listening to Others"
1:06:53

"Some books of poems are sort of like a scrapbook, or a portfolio, or something, and some of them are more thematic, or the book itself has some kind of looser type—in my case, it's usually loose—structure, or trajectory."

From interview section 12, "Putting Books Together I: Sequence and Structure"
1:10:52

"I'm always like, 'Oh, I could be writing instead of reading this piece of software that I'm only going to use once every three years, when I'm like about to have a book come out.' But I should still do it."

From interview section 13, "Learning the Computer"
1:13:56

"I've printed things out and done my gungy little no-tech, on-the-floor, dogs-walking-over-it, leaves-falling-on-it kind of procedure that I was shame-facedly describing to you moments ago."

From interview section 14, "Putting Books Together II: Keeping Track of Work"
1:16:23

"It certainly aided and abetted my tendencies towards research, and it quickened and made more efficient, and broadened the range of my research reach."

From interview section 15, "The Computer and Productivity"
1:20:18

"[the internet] is interruptive and distracting, and so I just turn email off. But I know, for me, I like to do research—and even my use of a dictionary, or use of a thesaurus, or use of a synonym dictionary—all those things are on the internet."

From interview section 16, "The Internet and Productivity"
1:21:20

"I'll think, 'Oh, OK. Well, god damn it, I can't remember what I named the thing!' I changed the name five times, but then I'll think, 'Well, I used the word 'toothache' in there, so, I can search for that.'"

From interview section 17, "Finding Files"
1:23:40

"I don't get scared about people stealing my little poems. Because I don't think anyone cares. But in terms of invading my bank account or my personal information or my passwords, or other computer things—you know, contemporary life is a nightmare of losing privacy and being surveilled."

From interview section 18, "File Security and Fixity"
1:25:15

"Everything was like weighing stuff, going to the post office, and stamps, and, you know, printing. You know, which was fine, but now, I mean—email is a dream."

From interview section 19, "Correspondence with Other Writers: Digital vs. Analog"
1:27:13

"You want the classroom to be a vivid, lively, energetic, productive place. And when I was a little kid, there was a lot of stuff in the classroom. And now, there isn't. The classroom is sort of like a white cube, in a way. So actually, digital stuff, to me, substitutes for, or contains, the idea of having a lot of books, or a lot of pictures, a lot of reference things."

From interview section 20, "Tech and Teaching"
1:32:28

"My overwhelming reaction is gratitude. I'm super grateful that it makes it so much quicker, easier, more efficient to research, to connect to libraries, to connect to students and other writers to correspond—to exchange texts—to get hold of texts."

From interview section 21, "Final Thoughts on Technology and Writing"
1:37:58

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Amy Gerstler (born 1956) is an American poet. Her books of poetry include Ghost Girl (2004); Medicine (2000) - finalist for the Phi Beta Kappa Poetry Award; Crown of Weeds...

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"In both genre and process, Amy Gerstler is a hybrid artist. Whether she is jumping between poetry, nonfiction and hybrid works, or switching back and forth between handwritten notes and internet research, Gerstler consistently bridges the gap between physical and digital media. Growing up, Gerstler..."

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