This reminds me a little of another Minnesotan, Sam Shepherd. How do you think environment affects our writing?
Environment is everything. Since I tend to be more productive when I am thinking surly thoughts, a cold, drizzly October day lends itself better to the craft of writing than does a sunny afternoon. It is hard to be confined to a desk when everyone else is out playing.
I think my craft is more effected by micro-environment. When my writing becomes constrained by my immediate surroundings I take my laptop on the road: I go among people – usually in coffee shops or bars – and write. Their conversations, actions and emotions, as well as the music that’s playing, becomes the story.
Tell us a little bit about The Loft.
The Loft is a literary center in the old mill district of downtown Minneapolis. It is at the heart of the literary community in the Twin Cities and offers workshops, mentorship, grants and the like to would-be writers.
I have had some hits and some misses with the workshops I’ve taken (not all good writers make good teachers!) but Loft classes are pretty affordable and at least provide a writer with the opportunity to be amongst his peers.
There’s a ton of story packed into a very dense space here. Is flash your most natural form?
Flash seems to be my natural form these days. Aside from being a product of my short attention span, flash appeals to me in the same way good photography does in the way that it tells the story of a moment. I also like flash fiction’s penchant for the surreal, the horrifying and the cruel. I like to drop my characters right into their worst moments, give them a chance to wriggle their way out, then end the story with a whimper.
Do you maintain a regular writing schedule? What is it?
I wish I could maintain a regular writing schedule. I tend to write in manic bursts, riding the creative edge until it dulls. I’ll write a story a day for two weeks straight and then not write again for a month, choosing instead to revise, submit for publication and read as many books as I can.
I do tend to write best in the morning after I’ve had a few cups of coffee, so I’ll try to head down to the coffee shop with my laptop a few times a week.
Some day I hope to be as disciplined as the writers I see on TV and in the movies.
What are you wearing for Halloween?
Wind-up chattering teeth hopping up and down on a pair of pink feet. Or maybe the lifeless, headless body of democracy. I went as dirt last year but people kept trying to plant things in me.