There is a feminine, almost flowery quality to Lara’s words that marry her subject matter nicely to her writing style. She is self aware, sweet, salty and explorative...all things to be admired in a young woman.
What is the name of your recently published book, what is it about, who is it for and why did you write it?
The book is called, “Mother, We All Have Been Lonely and Lovely Places.” To be honest, I generally have trouble explaining the things I do, the things I write about. People have asked me that question before, yet I was never able to answer justly. Or at least, most of the time, I feel like an idiot right afterwards. Maybe I can’t explain my things because I have never been good at summarizing? Every detail of an entirety has always mattered, somehow. Then there’s also the fact that I feel self-conscious whenever I speak, especially about my own things, constantly aware of people’s possible existence of elsewhere.
But if I were to generalize (poorly), I suppose the book is about being a woman, the many possible lives and moments we live. During the time of my MFA, a lot of things activated in my head. Mainly in terms of accessing my real voice, as well as becoming more consciously aware of different perceptions, and all those possible lives out there. Before the MFA, I guess I would usually roam around similar circumstances to my own biography, even though I did have friends from all types of pasts.
During the course, I was drastically, as well as intimately, confronted with people from elsewhere, realizing pretty soon the absurdity of some of my believes and years of personal patterns. Like the fact that I’m terrified of my youth — and therefore my body — fading. Somehow during my childhood I subconsciously adapted this idea of women without incorporating the universal idea of beauty being reduced, not to nothing, but to something significantly less. There are so many reasons why I became this way: My mother’s eternal vanity. My childhood in Mexico’s one percent. The fact that my body has always been closely tied to my identity, because all my life I’ve always been abnormally skinny and people would approach me negatively or positively about it. All those men (and women) fantasizing about me because of all of that.
After realizing some of these things, I also began thinking about my sex life, and they way I’d generally engage with people. How I’d become this vessel of pleasure while compromising my own comfort. The way I’d have sex, almost performative, trying to represent an ideal that’s lived by many (not all) men, as well as women.
There’s so much to say, and as you see, I’m writing a manifesto here… sorry about that. To sum it up, it’s about existing in one of the many realities the world bares. I’m a young woman, trying to understand the conditionalities of my own past, present, and future. Silently, without meaning to point fingers. We all have lived differently the same.
Why do you write? Does it satisfy you in a different way than making videos or taking photos?
Again, I’m not sure I can really answer that. Why do I write? I guess it’s about satisfying some kind of constant pull. Maybe it’s actually a lot like masturbation. Few things feel as good as temporarily desiring oneself. Bodily, as well as mentally. When we masturbate and cum, desire for one’s own body has materialized. When I write, successfully, it’s a similar feeling of absolute desire, primarily for my mind. It’s one of the few times I fully desire myself. And that feels beautiful. Necessary, perhaps. Don't we all need tiny moments of redemption?
I like taking pictures. Details of things, they document particular moments that aren't so much about memory, but actually about living consciously at the very instant of documenting them. Somehow we are especially present within our current reality when we intentionally decide for something to become part of our past.
While taking in things visually is essential, it’s still the act of writing that moves me most. But what would a writer be without eyes and patience to observe?
How many languages do you speak and in what language do you dream?
Languages that I’m comfortable with adequately and freely speaking, three. English, German, and Spanish. The rest of little bits I might know here and there, don’t count. I think we speak a language once we no longer worry about composition. It comes out organically. Then again, I might also answer like a perfectionist. But for me, language is, and always has been, intuition.
In terms of what language I dream in… since I was a young girl I've considered that a funny question. And strangely enough, a lot of people ask it. For me dreams occur absent of language. There is language of course, but the dialogue seems implied and continuously there, even if intangible. I don’t think I dream in languages but feelings, experienced through and with images. Does that make any sense…
You have diplomas in the Fine arts and Creative writing - If you could go back to school for a third degree what would you choose to study?
There are so many things I’d like to study. Starting from philosophy to psychology, to archeology, to medicine. But if I had to choose, I’d probably go for psychology, mainly because humans — their minds, their behavior — will always be most captivating and meaningful to me. Perhaps it's mostly about beauty, both the very lovely and the very ugly beauty of it all.
What is your view on censorship and how has it affected your book specifically?
Censorship is something I’ve often had to keep in mind when publishing work. Absurdly enough we still exist in a world where graphic visuals of (mostly female) body parts are accepted, yet the definitions themselves aren't. In fact, they’re a taboo in many places.
I had a few presses interested in publishing my book, yet most of them later on showed concern about its graphic language. A shame really, because I don't think I employ perverse vocabulary just for being unconventional, or vulgar. Every word has purpose and meaning, if used genuinely. If I write the word cock, I mean cock. Nothing less, or more.
My publisher León Muñoz Santini (Gato Negro Ediciones) gave me no restrictions, he’s amazing. It’s been so easy working with him and his team. Sometimes, of course, it got a little (too?) vulnerable when we sat at a cafe and went over specific paragraphs explicit in language. Yet that feeling passed almost immediately. It was like two people discussing humanity, both aware of the individual possibilities of a life.
Do you have any special writing (or other) exercises that you use to combat writer's block?
If there’s an hour, a moment, I can’t write, I don’t. In the past I’ve tried to force it. I’d spent hours in front of the screen, and nothing productive would come of it. I think a writer usually knows when something’s working or not.
I take 20 minute-naps almost every day. It helps me to organize my mind, think about things patiently. I also revisit underlined sentences in certain books, usually the ones on my desk that week/month/year.
Can I commission you to write something for this interview? If so, please give us one small written piece on what you ate for dinner:
Actually? As absurd as it sounds, I threw up last night. I must have caught some stomach flu, or something. I ate some bread, but that didn’t last long inside my body.
The act of throwing up is kind of fascinating. My sister thought that was gross when I told her on the phone earlier today. (Maybe I am actually gross...) But I find it consoling, and somehow lovely, that we are (mostly, at least) fully aware when we’re about to throw up. It’s that unusual sensation in the mouth, saliva changing in texture, things slowing down, internally as well as externally.
I don’t know, maybe I’m just amazed at my body — bodies, in general — being unquestionably aware of some things. Because what else are we certain of, except things coming to an end one day…
Images courtesy of LARA KONRAD
interview ASHLEY MUNNS
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