“…The dream was sheer horror. The kind of dream where you walk into a space and violins start screeching and you are pulled to the floor by a vicious, invisible force. Also, my laptop went missing in the dream. A plot point, I thought, and started writing.
I workshopped an early draft with Michael Martone, on the Greek island of Corfu. The ocean came all the way up the window. The air felt like fresh linen. After the workshop, he met me in a hotel lobby and we sat near a piano. Martone told me to look at the depth of the finish on the piano, and how many layers of shellac must have been applied, and all the polishing that was done. Fiction is like a piano, I guess was his point. So I left thinking “shellac, layer, polish.” I shellacked, layered, and polished off and on until the summer of 2013. Magazines sent it back saying things like “despite its obvious merit, etc.” The New Yorker said that. It was a slush submission and perhaps a form reject, maybe all the slush work that year had obvious merit. I was frustrated, but Deborah Treisman was right, “despite its obvious merit, etc.”
So finally, in the summer of 2013, I needed to give NOON annual work. NOON annual published my very first fiction and, up until that point, I’d always given Diane Williams, the editor, new work sometime over the summer. ‘Odd Jobs’ was all I had. But I knew I couldn’t thrust all 19 almost-working pages onto Diane, and so I sat down and thought ‘what is this story about?’ I pulled the one scene that felt most alive and started to work on it, adding and deleting so it could get up and move on its own. After a few days what I had was ‘She Likes You.’”
Read Odd Jobs and She Likes You in Issue 6.
Below: the writer’s writing space now. Decidedly not a dump.