On Questions

Today I was at the bank. The clerk was new, I could tell, if only because an older employee watched every move she made. Part of the clerk’s job, I think, is to make pleasant conversation. You know how it goes. She asked if I was a student. I said I was. She asked in what. I said creative writing. She said, so you’re going to write novels? Well. What kind are you going to write? I don’t know. Are they going to be scary? I don’t know.

Maybe they’re going to be scary. I hope that they’ll be scary, though probably not in the manner she imagined. I’m terrible at small-talk with people who are helping me do things. I wonder if the conversation above will be anything like my thesis defense, which is next semester. Are you satisfied with the manuscript, Tim? I don’t know. What do you imagine the work is doing? I don’t know. What did your artist’s statement suggest?

I don’t know.

Sometimes writers are really good at talking about their work, as well as what they’re reading. Some writers aren’t as good. Some are terrible, actually. I think I’m one of the terrible ones.

And that’s maybe okay. Not being totally conscious of what you’re doing can be a benefit, or at least some indication of mostly successful fiction. Charles Baxter called them “echoes,” I think, though I might be mistaken. Maybe I call them echoes.

About talking about writing: HTMLGIANT just released its Tournament of Bookshit bracket. I’m no expert, but this seems a pretty good representation of writers. Note the battles in the West, Wyoming.

It’s good to think about writing and smile.


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