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Posts tagged "dan chaon"

Aug 14, 2013
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Holy shit look at Dan Chaon’s library!


  "I wanted the builders to install a secret room behind  one of the shelves, but they wouldn’t go for it," says Chaon (pronounced Shawn). "But it was always my dream to have a library. It’s one of these old Cleveland Heights homes with more space than I know what to do with."

Holy shit look at Dan Chaon’s library!

"I wanted the builders to install a secret room behind one of the shelves, but they wouldn’t go for it," says Chaon (pronounced Shawn). "But it was always my dream to have a library. It’s one of these old Cleveland Heights homes with more space than I know what to do with."

Apr 17, 2013
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Mar 29, 2013
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If you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader.

My friend Dan Chaon (author of Stay Awake) illustrates the problem with modern lit: everybody wants to be a writer, and nobody wants to be a reader.

The writing community is full of lame-o people who want to be published in journals even though they don’t read the magazines that they want to be published in. These people deserve the rejections that they will undoubtedly receive, and no one should feel sorry for them when they cry about how they can’t get anyone to accept their stories.

As a teacher, he runs into a lot of what I call the “I like to write, but I don’t like to read“ students:

[I]t has surprised me, over the years, how few of my creative writing students have made any effort to engage with the community that they supposedly want to be a part of.”

He then offers up a really great analogy: students who want to be rock star musicians.

They have started a band, and they are spending their weekends and off hours writing songs and practicing. Without fail, these kids know everything there is to know about new music. They are listening all the time—they can discourse on Bob Dylan as easily as they can talk about the new e.p. from a new band from Little Rock, Arkansas, or wherever, and they have a whole hard drive full of demos from obscure artists that they have downloaded from the internet.

I wish that my students who want to be fiction writers were similarly engaged. But when I ask them what they’ve read recently, they frequently only manage to cough up the most obvious, high profile examples. What if my rock star students had only heard of …um….The Beatles? We listened to them in my Rock Music Class in high school. And…. And Justin Timberlake? And, uh, yeah, there’s that one band, My Chemical Romance, I heard one of their songs once.

How awful would that be?

Young writers, if you want to be rock stars, you have to read.

It bears repeating: if you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader first.

Every writer I know worth their salt is a voracious reader, and many of them have the opposite attitude of the students mentioned above, summed up here by William Giraldi: “I don’t enjoy writing. I enjoy reading.”

See also: Blake Butler’s call to “Be an open node,” where he talks about concrete ways you can join the literary community:

(1) When you read something you like, in any form, write the author and tell them.

(2) Write reviews of books you like… You can’t expect to be recognized for your work if you aren’t recognizing others for their work. Open the doors.

(3) Interview writers… I have done this for years and have made friends by doing it, have ‘opened doors’ so to speak: in other words, by helping others, you are also helping yourself.

(4) If you have free time, start an online journal. Start a blog, a review, an anything. If you don’t know how I’ll help you. Say stuff. Mean what you say.

(5) If you have a journal already, respond faster. Pay attention to your inbox.

Filed under: reading

Feb 04, 2013
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danchaon:

“Writer—Dan Chaon”  directed by Ted Sikora.   Disturbing revelations throughout!  

Nice video of Dan talking about his correspondence with Ray Bradbury, the midwest landscape, the pain of throwing away writing, and using autobiography in fiction.

He really pays forward the generosity he received from Bradbury — I used to live in his neighborhood in Cleveland and he was way nicer to me than I deserved, having coffee with me a few times and inviting me to events at Oberlin. It really meant a lot.

Oh, and he’s a fucking awesome writer. If you like novels, get Await Your Reply, if you like short stories, get his new book, Stay Awake.

Feb 13, 2012
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I was adopted as an infant and so I had this one family that I was growing up with that I was aware was sort of this construct. Like, I knew that I could have happened to be in any family. Then when I was in my twenties, I got married and had kids, and so I had this new experience of having a family that I’d created, as opposed to having a family that I had been sort of airlifted into. And that was really the first time that I’d seen a biological relative of mine: when I saw my kids. And that was a really transformative experience for me. Then, when I was in my thirties, I met a bunch of my biological relatives, and that was another kind of family experience that had lots of weirdness. It had a lot of good aspects to it, too. And, you know, over the last few years, I’ve had the experience of kind of losing this family unit, or having it transformed — you know, with the death of my wife and then my kids going off to college. So I’m back at this stage where I am a single person again, and very disconnected, in some ways, from all of that family life…
Dan Chaon on family life and his new book Stay Awake

Feb 05, 2012
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Fiction is fun because you get to steal an identity and try to make it authentic.
Dan Chaon (Get his new book!)

Mar 23, 2011
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All fiction is fan fiction.

Jul 16, 2010
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Nebraska was my Ireland.
Dan Chaon on the subject of exile, in a fascinating interview on his excellent book, Await Your Reply

Nov 06, 2009
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Sep 15, 2009
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I start with an image, then I go from the image toward exploring the situation. Then I write a scene, and from the scene I find the character, from the character I find the larger plot. It’s like deductive reasoning—I start with the smaller stuff and work backward.
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