Loneliness After Hamline [Q&A]

It was such an astonishing story--this whale roaming the world searching for another who speaks its language--that I kept repeating it as an anecdote to whomever would listen. Somewhere along the way I realized there was more here than just a story about the literal whale; this was a story about all of us.

Finding the Craft of Writing [Q&A]

See, I didn’t grow up reading. Books, words, punctuation; no thank you. English was my least favorite subject, Language Arts nothing short of a torture session. All through grade school, junior high, and high school, English annoyed me. I am a man of math and science (still am). Numbers, equations, variables and graphs, calculus . . . I loved it all. By my Senior year, I was taking Physics, AP Chemistry, and had already completed AP Calculus. I also had only read three books: Of Mice and Men, Catcher in the Rye, and The Things They Carried. As a man and an English major, I can with pride say that I loathed Of Mice and Men and Catcher in the Rye.

Between Writing and Poetry [Q&A]

When I was five or six, my best friend’s mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up; I answered, without thinking, “a writer.” There is some deep compulsion in me to write, some need that exceeds all practical considerations (about money, for instance, or talent). Freud says that every dream has its navel: a point beyond which interpretation simply cannot pass. This compulsion is the navel of my life: something so fundamental that I can’t think through it.

From a Publisher to Publishing Her First Book [Q&A]

My approach to writing very short prose is varied. Sometimes it’s a matter of distilling a much longer story into one substantially shorter in length than the original, through a process of culling and refinement again and again until I’m satisfied that the story can’t be any further pared away at without consequence. I enjoy that challenge of crystallization, which involves thinking deeply about the reader, imagining what she may fill in with her intelligence, intuition, and empathic imagination and invention.

A Life of Writing [Q&A]

Poetry filled the pages as if it was my first tongue or a primitive utterance that just came out when my censors were “off.” The early me was quantity over quality and that mountain of poems was angsty and terrible, of course. But you could say the form “grew” up with me, and poetry was ever present. Like a shadow. Training wheels. A body cast. The cocoon from which I would eventually emerge.