What’s the worst thing about writing?
My least favorite thing about the writing process is how long everything takes: I read slowly, I edit fellow writers’ work slowly, and I write slowly. Yet, I want to read, help edit, and write so many things. The drafting process even for a short story can take over a year, and I’ve been working on my novel for almost a decade now. Then, when you get journals, agents or publishers involved, even rejections can take quite some time. I understand good reasons exist for this (quality control, most of us have other jobs/responsibilities, sheer volume of submissions journals/agents/publishers get, etc.), but it creates an odd dynamic where when something is finally published I almost feel like a prior version of me deserves the credit.
What do you do when people ask “How’s your writing goin?”
Per the above, I almost always say “Slowly.”
Describe your thoughts on writing (either your own or in general) using as many nouns as possible.
What is it about your discipline (fiction/poverty/nonfiction/other) that draws you to it?
Nothing allows you to find works that are more bespoke to your particular interests than fiction. According to the website 538, about 350 original scripted shows and 650 movies are made in the United States each year, whereas 1.4 million books are published. This disparity is unsurprising. Filmmaking and TV almost always require significant investment and at least dozens and at most hundreds of creative “cooks” involved, many of whom have been to the same schools, the same backgrounds and hold the same broad theories of what a film should be. By contrast, while not easy (I’m know), the barriers to having a novel published are simply lower and the opportunity for one person’s unique vision to be fully realized is far greater.
This allows for so much more diversity of viewpoint and subject matter. No matter where your interests lie, you can find a kindred soul that written something that’s going to touch you.
While I read broadly, I tend to fall hardest for fantastical works infused with real human pathos. I grew up reading fantasy and science fiction, and moved over to magical realism in college.
For example, my favorite book published last year was Han Kang’s Human Acts. The book does everything good fiction should do, including engagingly reminding us of important history that has faded from (or never entered) our collective memory. Kang’s a South Korean author whose earlier book The Vegetarian received more attention than Human Acts, including winning the International Man Booker. The Vegetarian was about a homemaker who descends into madness and starts to think she’s turning into a tree. And I loved that, but Human Acts was better, more personal and more globally resonant. The story opens around a real 1980 student movement against the South Korea’s government’s implementation of Martial Law, including a ban on political activities. The opening section is told in a second person POV (a broadly discouraged literary device that Kang manages well) who is soon revealed to be the ghost of a murdered student watching as the bodies if his fellow students are gathered. We learn the government had sent troops that killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of protestors. I can’t overstate how much of a gut punch the reading experience was.
While movie studios like A24, and expanded TV programing from studios like Netflix, have made strides towards greater creative risk-taking, books will always be ahead of them. Consider this: in 2016 the movie Moonlight made movie history and won an Oscar for its sensitive portrayal of a poor LGBTQ minority, in which the main character denies his identity by publicly shaming his first male lover. This also can describe Giovanni’s Room, a novel written in 1956 by James Baldwin. (Moonlight’s director has acknowledged this inspiration). Hopefully we won’t need to wait 60 years to see something like Human Acts on screen, but I expect novels will remain significantly ahead of the curve.
What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?
I only learned “Defenestration” with the past year or two, which is the act of throwing someone out a window. Like, the toss can’t be from a roof or parapet. The fact the English language has a word (and Wikipedia page of famous examples) for this is both morbidly funny and distressing. Note that this doesn’t have to be fatal, and you can also self-defenestrate.
I’ve also always admired “Lull” because it is visually representative of what it means (the three L’s towering and drooping down to the U).
Skullduggery is a gift of a word.
Bonus question: What is the perfect Pandora station for me to listen to right now. Interpret ‘me’ however you’d like.
So, I’ll interpret “me” as Timothy DeLizza. I’ve actually been working on a music piece for a friend’s website on the wave of great melancholy female singers that came out between 2000 and 2010. The below is a mixtape I’ve put together for that article (I realize some songs fall outside that decade). Anyhow, for me, a Pandora created by blending these songs together would be perfect.
Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell (from “Clouds”)
Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair, Nina Simone (from “Wild is the Wind”)
Tigers are Noble/ The Tigers have Spoken, Neko Case (from “The Tigers have Spoken”)
I’ve Been Thinking, Cat Power (from Handsome Boy Modeling School’s “White People”)
Anthems for a 17 Year Old Girl, Broken Social Scene (from “You Forget it in People”)
Werewolf, Cat Power (from “You Are Free”)
Maybe Not, Cat Power (from “You Are Free”)
Low Point, Trespassers William (from “Having”)
Righteously, Lucinda Williams (from “World Without Tears”)
Anchor, Trespassers William (from “Different Stars”)
Because the Night, 10,000 Maniacs (from “MTV Unplugged”)
Fade Into You, Mazzy Star (from “So Tonight I Might See”)
Lonely, Lonely, Feist (from “Let it die”)
Haiti, Arcade Fire (from “Funeral”)
Walking with a Ghost, Tegan & Sara (from “So Jealous”)
Oh God, Those Darlins (from “Blur the Line”)”
Funeral, Phoebe Bridgers (from “Stranger in the Alps”)
Fatal Gift, Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton (from “Choir of the Mind”)
Wanna Be on Your Mind, Valerie June (from “Pushing on a Stone”)
Matching Weight, Trespassers William (from “Having”)
Timothy DeLizza lives in Baltimore, MD. During daytime hours, he’s an energy attorney for the government. His novella “Jerry (from Accounting)” was published by Amazon.com’s Day One imprint and is available as a Kindle Single.