Working with Words: Lexi Freiman

Lexi Freiman is the author of Inappropriation. She spoke with us about impractical plan Bs, avoiding noise and writing love poems to Leonardo DiCaprio.

What was the first piece of writing that made you laugh or cry?

Photograph of Lexi Freiman

I can’t remember the first but an early one would have been Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust. I laughed at the delicious dry humor and thought, oh, you can make gentle fun of people and it is very delightful to read.  

Did you write during your childhood and during your teenage years? 

Yes, I wrote something between fiction and a diary. I was determined to describe nature with as many adjectives as possible. I also remember writing a love poem to Leonardo DiCaprio about the stars and our shared destiny.

Later I wrote plays about my feelings where everyone talked at length about their feelings. They were terrible plays that have actually made it harder for me to write about my feelings. 

What day jobs have you held throughout your life, and how have those experiences influenced your writing?

I was an actress for several years in Australia and I think that’s made me shrewd about character development and dialogue. In New York I was an editor which taught me a lot about story and shaping text.

Being a waitress – or trying to avoid ever having to be one again – is probably what gave me my writer’s discipline.

But being a waitress – or trying to avoid ever having to be one again – is probably what gave me my writer’s discipline; which is, I think, the most important part. But I also think I am just prone to masochism.

If you weren’t writing, what do you think you’d be doing instead?

Maybe acting or directing. My plan Bs have always been very impractical. 

What’s the best (or worst) advice you’ve received about writing?

The best advice is to write what makes you feel energised. 

Have you ever kept a diary? Do you keep one now?

I used to keep one as a teenager but now I just keep a notebook that is more for ideas. When I have a very bad day it gets filled up with aphorisms and affirmations. 

Which classic book do you consider overrated? Or which obscure, unsung gem do you think is underrated?

That’s a dangerous question. I think a lot of mainstream fiction is facile and overstated. But if I’m going to single someone out, I’ll choose someone dead. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov. Not facile or obvious, but deeply irritating and unpleasant to read. The underrated list is long but I’ll start with Emily L by Marguerite Duras. 

My plan Bs have always been very impractical.

Do you have any strange writing habits, customs or superstitions?

I can get a bit hysterical about noise. I’ve been known to use a white noise machine and ear plugs at the same time. 

Have you written or published anything in the past that you now wish you could go back and change?

No, even the bad things are funny now. Although I was recently reminded of some crazy Facebook messages I wrote to a man I was seeing in my early twenties. I basically pulled out the old stars and shared destiny lines from my DiCaprio poem. In some ways, I wish I was still that delusional. 

Which artist, author or fictional character would you most like to have dinner with? 

Probably Michel Houellebecq. Just because I think it would be weird and possibly disgusting. I imagine him saying dark and hilarious things while blowing cigarette smoke in my face. I guess it would be a bit masochistic. 

Portrait of Lexi Freiman

Lexi Freiman’s debut novel, Inappropriation, is a satire on identity politics set at a private Sydney girls’ school, published by Allen & Unwin. It was also published in the US to praise from the New York Times Book Review, the Wall Street Journal, Bookforum and more. She is working on her second novel. 

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