What would you say the stories that you select do have in common?
Not a lot. I feel as though we’re looking for stories that are successful on their own terms—you know, they set out to do something and they achieve it. If someone’s trying to write a very traditional story and nails it and does it perfectly, great. If they’re trying to do a sort of linguistically experimental story and they can do it and they carry it off and they still make you care, great. But if they’re trying to do either one and they just don’t quite get it right, that’s where I draw the line. So it’s not a question of genre or style, it’s a question of living up to the story’s own aspirations.
from this interview with Deborah Treisman in The Stranger
I don’t know why, but this answer stuck with me when I first read it weeks ago when I was still in LA. (I’ve been in NYC for 2.5 weeks, and it feels like I’ve been here forever.) I suppose part of it is that there’s this story I’ve been struggling to write all throughout Japan that I’m still struggling to write because I want it to be a story about a very specific mood and less about some great narrative, and I’m having a hard time with it because I want it to be this particular something but the words aren’t connecting the way I’d like. Absolutely maddening, that.
Sent off a copy of The Wunderkind to a friend to read and edit, please — the first time sending a manuscript to her, which does raise the nerves a little because I’ve held my work very close to me for so long, but I figure it’s time to loosen up a little and start getting feedback from people from whom I believe constructive criticism can be received. It’s hard, though, even to approach someone and ask, Hey, if you’ve got time, I’ve a story some 8,000 words long if you should like to red pencil it!, partly because it feels like a lot to ask and partly because I’m simply very hesitant to do so.
(I punched a fifth hole in my ear in that interim week between Korea and NYC, and I keep forgetting it’s there, occasionally swipe at it when clearing the hair from my face, hiss an emphatic fuck! because, well, it hurts.)