(Titivillus Has Entered The Chat)

Anna Spence

3 Questions for Anna

What was your process for creating this work?

Ha! It literally happened because of a typo. I do a one-hour writing sprint with the London Writers’ Salon every day at 8 AM in which the only rule is to “write or do nothing.” So, contemplating the relationship between writing and nothing, I was doing a stream-of-consciousness rumination on whether a thought can be inert, and how dogma is related etymologically to position (advantage, military, having the high ground) and that spiraled into a somewhat despairing conclusion that all this etymological hither-thithering was going to make me “loose my mind.” Oh, what an opportunity that little slip of the finger offered! Loose my mind? Yes, please! How? Helpfully, Word underlined that in blue, and, feeling bellicose because of all that military speculation, I decided to chase that typo to its logical occlusions. I fight with Word a lot. We are not friends. Enter Titivillus the printer’s devil (which Word has literally underlined in red as a spelling error. That devil is laaaaughing right now). I love the idea of Titivillus, who adds in typos after the proofs, squaring off with an officious little lemon-mouth like Word and letting something wicked loOse.

What is the significance of the form you chose?

I’m an academic. I do a lot of academic stuff. The conventions of academic discourse have their place and they enable a particular kind of conversation. I’ve also learned that academic language is often a big ol’ bouncer at the gate who keeps a lot of voices out of the club. In an academic paper, what appears to be a seamless presentation of knowledge really hides a lot of contention about whose knowledge and voices count, who can and can’t be heard. So, this piece uses the academic structure to reveal rather than to obscure the foment that goes on in any space where ideas contend and are tested. And it really drove Word batty. SO MUCH SQUIGGLY UNDERLINING AHAHA! Take that, Word. My deepest apologies to the journal’s typesetters.

What is the significance of this work to you?

I’ve really been working on finding my voice as a writer, and what I’m really finding is that my voice does not like to settle comfortably into a genre or form, and when it does, it picks at the wallpaper to see what’s underneath. In this piece, I decided to just go with that. I also believe that creation happens in the misfires, and that mistakes are opportunities, so I’m delighted when an “error” leads to something unexpected. I love a devil in the details. And the fact that this piece can find a place in the world gives me hope that there is a place for my kind of voice, too, and that maybe it’s not a lost cause to commit to it. And I really, really like to make Word apoplectic. It makes me so happy.

Anna Spence (she/her) is an academic by day and a writer by compulsion. Her work has appeared in several online literary journals, including Sledgehammer Lit, Emerge Literary Journal, and The Spotlong Review, and is forthcoming in the Bonemilk and SuicidalAliens anthologies from Gutslut Press and the Writing in Community vol 2 anthology from The London Writers’ Salon. She can be found on Twitter @MSSalieri

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