In New York and L.A., there is sort of that silent competition to be on the cutting edge of something. You end up having a conversation with how the world receives your work, especially if you are writing narrative, not fiction. Sometimes it is an awkward conversation. It's like group therapy.
Since graduation, I have measured time in 4-by-5-inch pieces of paper, four days on the left and three on the right. Every social engagement, interview, reading, flight, doctor's appointment, birthday and dry-cleaning reminder has been handwritten between metal loops.
Some of the writers I admire who seem very, very funny and very emotional to me can develop a closeness with the reader without giving too much of themselves away. Lorrie Moore comes to mind, as does David Sedaris. When they write, the reader thinks that they're being trusted as a friend.
I attended an extremely small liberal arts school. There were approximately 1,600 of us roaming our New England campus on a good day. My high school was bigger. My freshman year hourly calorie intake was bigger.
Ah, the power of two. There's nothing quite like it. Especially when it comes to paying utility bills, parenting, cooking elaborate meals, purchasing a grown-up bed, jumping rope and lifting heavy machinery. The world favours pairs. Who wants to waste the wood building an ark for singletons?
When I was nine years old, I wrote a short story called 'How to Build a Snowman,' from which no practical snowperson-crafting techniques could be gleaned. The story was an assignment for class and it featured a series of careful but meaningless instructions. Of course, the building of the snowman was a red herring.
The year most of my high school friends and I got our driver's permits, the coolest thing one could do was stand outside after school and twirl one's car keys like a lifeguard whistle. That jingling sound meant freedom and power.