Soak Test

Boundary-Breaking Author and Filmmaker Chris Kraus Talks Patience and Greatness

Author and filmmaker Chris Kraus. Photography by Clarissa Gallo.

Does your work feel seminal when you are making it or only after, through others' interactions?

Nothing is as absorbing as writing... finding a path, figuring things out as you go. I think a book happens first in your head, completely and perfectly, but it can take forever to find it again in a tangible form and realize it for other people. The interactions that happen afterwards are nice but that's a completely different experience.

Does patience factor into your progess?

Once I commit to writing a project or book, it takes a long time sometimes to find the right pitch. I really need to empty out my life for a while and have plenty of unstructured time. Eileen Myles says a writer needs to roll around in time like a dog rolls around in a smell. Paradoxically, it takes patience to waste time, but it's the only way to let something arrive.

What are the key ingredients to a great career?

A great career is just the ability to go on working. Doing this requires a certain amount of confidence and momentum, not to mention arranging your life financially and logistically. Everyone does this differently. When I was 25, I was obsessed with the question, "Will I still be an artist when I'm 40?" And the answer would have been no if I hadn't married someone who was able to support me for a long time until I figured out ways to make enough money myself. The ideas people have about "great careers" usually turn out to be mythic. There are a lot of ups and downs, no matter the circumstances.