Lesley Arfin definitely knows how to write; starting off as an intern at Vice Magazine, New York, she quickly went on to publish her first book, Dear Diary, in 2007 via Vice Books/ MTV Press, which included a forward by Chloe Sevigny. Over the years she penned articles for scene mags such as Jane, Purple, Nylon, i-D and briefly worked as an Editor-In-Chief for Missbehave Magazine. Lesley resides in New York City and plans to write her second book.
Sonic Reducer: If you go back in time, was there a moment when it all fell together or became clear to you that writing can be your profession? What inspired you to write?
Lesley Arfin: Yes, I’m pretty sure I realized it was possible to be a writer professionally when I was a freshman in high school. I don’t remember the specifics of what sparked it but I remember telling my mom it was what I wanted to be when I grew up, and for the first time, that proclamation felt official. What inspires me to write first and foremost to this day is reading something that truly kicks ass.
Sonic Reducer: What was your journey from writing your Vice Column to actually publishing Dear Diary?
Lesley Arfin: I was a Vice intern who began writing for them. I knew they had a column called Dear Diary that had been discontinued, so I started it up again. Did that for like 5 years, got sick of it but thought it would make a good book. They agreed, I wrote the book. That’s what happened.
Sonic Reducer: Dear Diary deals with your personal history, the dark places you visited and growing up in general. In a way, you wrote it twice (referring to her updates and revisits in the book). How do you feel now about the book in retrospective?
Lesley Arfin: It’s cute. I like it, but I feel I’m a stronger writer today and sometimes wish I could re-write it, but whatever I’ll just write another book. There are parts of the book I would edit but I think that’s normal. I had a deadline that I had to meet, which was for the best. It’s out of my hands now. It is what it is.
Sonic Reducer: On your blog you mentioned that there might be an MTV adaptation of Dear Diary happening? Is that still on? What´s the lowdown?
Lesley Arfin: They optioned it, but it doesn’t seem like anything is gonna happen with it. Kind of a bummer. Maybe something will happen, we’ll see. I want Amy Heckerling to direct it.
Sonic Reducer: Being a blogger yourself, do you think blogs and the internet shape the way we write nowadays or at least dictate certain themes and topics that we connect with?
Lesley Arfin: Nah.
Sonic Reducer: Your writing has a very personal touch to it, one would say, revealing. How did your style evolve? And do you see your blog as an extension to it?
Lesley Arfin: Yes my writing is personal, I’m not sure how to explain how it evolved other than saying that as a person I continue to evolve, so my writing style naturally does too. Yes I feel like my blog is an extension of that. If anything I’m more aware of how much is too much these days.
Sonic Reducer: With the commercial work you do, where do you draw the line ethically in terms of what you do and don´t do?
Lesley Arfin: The rule I have for commercial work is that if my name is going to be attached, I write what I want. Other than that I have no “ethical” boundaries. Jobs are jobs. I need to make a living. I’ll write copy for anyone if the price is right.
Sonic Reducer: Are there any books or writers you can recommend? Or stuff you´re reading at the moment?
Lesley Arfin: There are a ton of books and writers I can recommend. For other writers, I recommend reading John Cheever, Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg, Eileen Myles, On Writing by Stephen King, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, short stories by TC Boyle.
Sonic Reducer: Being mainly a music mag, if we ask you for a mixtape, what would you put on it?
Lesley Arfin: The Soft Pack, Bikini Kill, Sleigh Bells, Joe Jackson, Team Facelift, Guns n Roses, Boney M, The Pointer Sisters, Cat Power, Patti Smith, Duran Duran, The Dixie Chicks, Janes Addiction, The Sundelles, Mike Bones, GG Allin, The B52’s, Beastie Boys, Jay Z, ESG, Cyndi Lauper…
Sonic Reducer: What´s the next project for you?
Lesley Arfin: I really want to write another book.