This is one in a series of two-minute interviews with participants in the…
The last scheduled reading in the series is this Wednesday, February 25, 7 PM, at Forbes Library in Northampton. So it’s with a sigh and a fond click of the “Publish” button that I post this last reading series-related nano-interview.
We bound across the finish line with D M Gordon, a versatile and inventive writer who, prior to receiving a Fiction/Creative Nonfiction fellowship, has been a finalist for the Artist Fellowships in both poetry and prose.
MCC: How many revisions does your work typically go through?
DM: Recently, I’ve been measuring my growth as a writer by a willingness to write new drafts. My last two stories have run to more than fifteen saved drafts; some were simple slicings and dicings, some involved changes in point of view, but at least three versions, maybe four, were shifts in plot or structure. Maybe this is laying too bare how much I struggle, maybe some of the drafts go backwards rather than forwards, but I learn something every time I have the courage to make a major change.
MCC: Computer, longhand, or typewriter?
DM: Adherents of longhand talk about the act of words coming through the body, the arm, into the hand, and the pace slowing them to wiser choices. But I love the computer. The delete key is my best friend, and what a gift, this facility to move the order of ideas around the page. A great dictionary is a click away. My computer, when I can stand it, will read back to me what I’ve just written in its nerdy voice, which never spares the flaws– always illuminating. I wonder too, about the connection to the brain–if longhand comes through the writer’s dominant hand, and the typewriter or computer requires both, does this enhance use of the elusive other side of the mind?
MCC: Do you ever revise your work on the spot during live readings?
DM: My husband wishes for me that they made edible shoes– I have a well practiced habit of putting both feet in my mouth at the same time. The anticipation of extemporizing in front of a live audience would keep me awake nights.
MCC: What writer do you most admire but write nothing like?
DM: MOST admire and write nothing like (alas)? That would be Shakespeare. After that, it’s too difficult a question, and the list gets long quickly. Right this moment, on the spot, someone I’m least like, and admire? Kurt Vonnegut comes to mind, his early work, for his humor, world building, imagination, and pressing significance. But to say this, I’d have to leave out Mark Twain, Ursula le Guin, Evelyn Waugh, John Donne, Tobias Wolf, Sherman Alexie, Isak Dinesen…I’m forcing myself to stop, and when I come back in an hour, I’ll be horrified at who I left out and want to change everything. (Rereading this an hour later.) Wait. Most admire and write nothing like? Gabriel Garcia Marquez, T.S. Eliot, Michael Ondaatje, Chaucer, Toni Morrison, Henry James. See? I can’t do this.
D M Gordon joins Elizabeth Hughey, Bill Peters, and Michael Teig for an event on Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 7 PM, at Forbes Library in Northampton. Event co-sponsored by Mass Humanities. Read about all of the events in the Commonwealth Reading Series.
D M Gordon’s prizewinning poems and short stories have appeared widely in literary journals, including Nimrod, Northwest Review and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Diana’s been the founder of a number of literary programs for Forbes Library, and is the senior poetry editor of The Patchwork Journal. Phi Beta Kappa, Master in Music from Boston University, she owes her literary education to the auditor’s program, and generosity of professors, at Smith College. She’s had two Pushcart nominations, and recently the Massachusetts Review has accepted her MCC submission story, Escape Velocity (read an excerpt). She is currently at work on a novel.