The curator of Seattle's Hugo House has also published two novels, teaches at Sierra Nevada College and writes essays, short stories and "other things."
What do you do? I’ve published two novels, most recently “The Dismal Science,” out earlier this year. And I write essays, short stories, other things. Also, I’m the events curator at Hugo House, Seattle’s writing center, and I teach writing classes there. I’m on faculty at a low-residency MFA program at Sierra Nevada College, on Lake Tahoe. And I do manuscript consulting — I meet with people who are struggling with their writing, and I read their pages and give them advice.
How did you get started? Honestly, I have no idea how I got here. I wrote and wrote and wrote, fought through a lot of rejection. Had very little going for me for 10 years, maybe. It was awful. And then things got a little better, then a little better. One day I looked around and I had this dreamy gig. It’s alarming.
What’s a typical day like? There is no typical day. In a week I write probably 15 or 20 hours, and I spend maybe 15 hours on event stuff for Hugo House. I teach two to five hours. I consult with people about their writing for five hours. That’s about a 40-hour work week, I guess. The thing is, though, that writing is a lot of fun for me — I’d rather write than go to a party, so it hardly feels like work.
What’s the best part of the work? Writing something new, something I’m excited about, which has a life of its own. It’s an indescribably exhilarating experience. Talking about writing with people in class, or as a mentor, or after an event — that’s also a lot of fun.
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What surprises people about what you do? People think — and I used to think this, too — that the goal of writing is to get published. It’s the other way around. The whole point of publishing is to buy yourself some more time to write, which is the actual goal. Publishing is a fleeting joy, alas, and it’s never unblemished. Even receiving a really nice review, say, you enjoy it for a couple hours, and then it’s time to go get your oil changed.