It just fascinates me, those private mechanisms that we use to make sense of the world - whether they have to do with the five senses or not. I think literature is one of the only kinds of art that truly lets us into that.
Giving the reader the space to move around and be active, and encourage their active response is important to me. That will connect the reader more to the text.
The act of language or the act of denying language carries its own heaviness.
Even in so-called realist or conventional writing there can be defamiliarization.
Another obligation that I have as a teacher is to make available to students a range of options and devices and approaches, rather than saying "well here's one way to do it and that's the only way that's good."
There's relief in white space for the reader.
Synesthesia has interested me for a long time, both as a literary device and as a puncturing of the membranes that organize how the world comes into someone's head.
I have what I came to find in my research is a mild form of synesthesia, though I never would have labeled it as such. It's how I think about numbers and letters. They all have inherent genders.
For me, the genders are an essential element of numbers and letters, not something that could be removed from them.
If a synesthetic person says the letter a is green, it can't ever be anything but green.
I don't know whose sensibility I'm responding to. Until someone starts pushing against what they've inherited and starts making their own decisions about language, it's difficult.
In undergraduate classes, I often see writers who are still simply imitating. I mean, we all imitate - that's how we learn to speak or write in the first place - but they're writing a Dean Koontz novel or something.
Portland is a pretty magnificent place to live.
So often we think of a wound or a loss as making a person feel more deeply, become a better person. But I don't think that always happens. I think it can constrict people's lives, especially if they don't push beyond it.
Even while I was working on the novel I would also write short stories as relief, just to be in a wieldier world that could negotiated more easily and more quickly. In the novel, I even changed the narrator from a man to a woman.
Part of being a writer is feeling that constant dissatisfaction, thinking about what else you could do, and also knowing when it's time to leave a project.
There's always something else to work on and different solutions to these problems in the next thing. We each have a certain set of obsessions which we each cycle through.
In my writing classes, I don't outlaw any genre writing.
In general, teaching writing makes me a far better reader because there's so many ways to write a good sentence or a good story, and as a teacher I'm obliged to consider them all, rather than staying in the safety of my own tendencies.
When I watch students make particular decisions about language, structure, and form, it sharpens my own thinking and my own development as a writer.
I started reading contemporary fiction in college or right after college. It wasn't as if I was steeped in experimental minimalism when I was twelve or something. I was reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond.
As someone who played music and never got famous, and remembers little fragments of that, I don't remember life as a dramatic flamboyant thing.
Sometimes you just feel like you could work forever on something and never know when it's done.
I cut hundreds of pages from my book because I felt myself being reiterative or redundant. Sometimes I wanted to leave just hints of things.
In my short stories there's a lot of focus on people successfully and not successfully responding to some sorts of discomforts or instabilities.
"Portland is a pretty magnificent place to live."
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