Happy Birthday, David Means, born 17 October 1961
- It’s a death trap to write something as a flight of fancy, or to sell more books.
- As a story writer, you have work with sharp but relatively small tools, the picks of metaphor, the shovel blade of images, the trowel of point of view, and then you delicately lift and brush in the revision with love and care knowing that one slip and you might damage an extremely delicate thing. In the end it has to be as solid as marble. But during the process it’s like an ancient shard of pottery.
- I read everything. I read contemporary fiction and I read classic stuff. I read nonfiction and poetry, too - a lot of poetry. And I teach, so I read my students’ work.
- I spend a lot of time — mostly in the morning — kind of drifting, reading, walking down along the river, looking at photographs or even driving around. Then, if I’m lucky, I get to work in the early afternoon, one way or another.
- I write first drafts by hand, often out of the house somewhere, and then, when I’ve got a draft, type it up and let it sit, sometimes for a long time, and then when I’m ready, I work on revision.
- We don’t tell novels at the kitchen table, we tell stories. We carry them around, mull them over, twist them, pass them on to someone else, who, in turn, adds a few things — and that’s what interests me: the magic of how a small story grants us an enormous amount of grace.
Means is an award-winning American writer of short stories. He is the author of A Quick Kiss of Redemption and The Secret Goldfish.
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