One Story–Douglas Watson

I received my first issue of One Story in the mail today. And it was a great story called “The Messenger Who Did Not Become a Hero” by Douglas Watson. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the interview:

  • I always have that kind of double consciousness in my writing. I think it’s a way of trying to fold my own self-consciousness about the act of writing into the product itself—you know, like: Now add three tablespoons of self-consciousness. Beat until almost smooth. Melt the protagonist over medium heat. Add a dash of conflict and just enough sugar to make the reader care about the character. Mix well and bake for a million years in the Oven of Remember, This Whole Thing Is Kind of a Joke! Let cool before serving.
  • The work I do at Time—I’ve been there five years now—has sharpened my writing at the sentence level. No question. Copyediting other people’s writing is good for a writer; it’s like practicing scales if you’re a musician. At the same time, you have to be able to turn off your editor brain, at least to an extent, if you’re going to have any chance at all of writing your way to page two of a story. So it can be a challenge. Editing is like arranging the furniture in a room, but first you have to build the house.
  • That’s one of the main reasons I write, by the way: to play, to have fun. You’re not really supposed to have fun as an adult, but if you say, “I’m working on a novel,” people furrow their brows and nod and imagine you scaling some great height, without a rope, under a baking sun. And, sure, writing is a little bit like that, but it can also be a little bit like playtime when you were a kid. Kids love to make things up, after all; they’re natural fiction writers. But we can’t pay them to write stories. Child-labor laws forbid it. That’s where adult fiction writers come in.

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