THE WRITING PART
Q. Hi Dan and thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell me a little about yourself and your background?
First off, let me say thank you for hosting me on your site, Aman. You have a wonderful blog! This is a great place for us all to indulge in our shared love of reading and writing. Thank you for your excellent content. I am grateful to be here and hopefully I have the opportunity to get to know your audience better.
I grew up in the Midwest in the States with four brothers and one sister. I moved out to the beautiful Pacific Northwest a little over ten years ago. I am a patent attorney with an engineering background, which is what I spend my days doing when I am not writing. I have a beautiful wife and amazing two-year-old daughter who cracks me up daily.
Q. When did you decide that you want to be a writer?
I can remember writing as far back as middle school. It’s something I have always enjoyed doing. You say in your About section that reading is like oxygen for you. I guess writing is like that for me. Writing has been something I have always enjoyed doing myself and admired in other people. Story telling is a beautiful gift. I love learning to hone the craft.
Q. What about the craft of writing? How do you approach your writing? Do you have a writing routine?
Once upon a time I thought I needed to write in a particular time and place. I would typically write at night and need to be in the perfect mood to do so. With a very demanding job, a wife, and two-year-old daughter, however, I quickly found that I was not finding much time to write at all. I had to begin writing anytime I could find a free 30 minutes. I was lucky I did too.
I think young writers always wait for the moment of inspiration to strike. These moments are amazing, but they are a great luxury. The truth, in my opinion, is that writing is as much about editing and revising as it is about the writing itself. I have so many pages of Pieces Like Pottery on the cutting room floor, so to speak. Maybe editing is a beautiful and inspiring process for some people, but for most writers I know, it is painstaking. There’s nothing inspirational about it for me. Having very little time to write each day helped me to begin taking my writing to the next level, to learn to hone it as a craft, rather than writing simply being an inspirational hobby. I had to find time to write whenever I could, regardless of whether the circumstances were perfect.
That being said, I still love to write at night over a glass of wine or a fine whiskey. Nothing beats that.
Q. What do you prefer: Pen or Computer? And how do you stay organized (any methods, systems, tools you use)?
Both. I write notes and ideas in pen. When I’m sitting down to write long form, I use a computer. I keep a journal of notes and ideas that strike me throughout the day. We all have what an old teacher of mine liked to call pristine moments of coherence—those moments when an idea strikes us so profoundly and clearly. I don’t want to lose those thoughts when I have them, so I try to write them down. But I typically have an idea or framework for a story before I begin. Once I have that and I am writing, then I will pull concepts or paragraphs from my journals or other notebooks. In fact, one of the paragraphs in The Gravesite (from Pieces Like Pottery) was actually written back when I was a teenager, if you can believe that.
In one of the stories the ending I had planned just didn’t work. It felt dishonest to take the reader on the journey and then finish with the original ending. I just knew the reader would feel betrayed, so I had to rework it. Sometimes the original plan just doesn’t work and the story unfolds on it’s own.
Q. What motivates you to write?
I find inspiration in my everyday life. I think good writers have a unique gift of empathy. They work hard to understand another person’s pains, hopes, dreams and fears. I really try to understand each person that I encounter in my life. These experiences tend to inspire me and seep into my writing.
Q. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Enjoy the outdoors. Take in a sporting event. Work. Spend time with my family. Pray. Meditate. Laugh.
Q. Are you working on anything at the moment? When can we see your next work?
It depends on what you mean by “working on.” I am not actively writing my second book, but the wheels are constantly turning in my head. There are a couple of ideas underway.
Q. Do you have any advice for aspiring/emerging writers?
Over the years I have been lucky enough to be offered abundant feedback and to hear excellent commentary from a few creative people that I admire greatly. There are three comments/ideas that have stuck with me throughout all my writing endeavors. (Each of these is summarized in my own words.)
When asked about the fears and doubts that she had with her writing, Elizabeth Gilbert (best selling author of Eat, Pray, Love) said she finally had an epiphany that her “writing muse” was telling her that this isn’t her story. If she doesn’t tell it, she said, then the muse would move on to someone else who will. Ms. Gilbert discussed how freeing this was for her. She was no longer declaring to the reader: “Listen to me. I have something to say.” It was almost as if she had no other choice but to write. This opened her up to write every day without fear of the result.
Ira Glass is an American public radio personality and the host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life. He has a great quote for young creatives. In short, he encourages that your work is not going to be good when you’re first starting out. We may have an excitement for our craft and a killer taste for what’s good, but our execution is poor. The only way to improve your work, the only way to close the gap so that your work is as good as your ambitions, is to do a lot of work. Write. Every day. Every week put yourself on a deadline to write something new. It’s going to take awhile, but that’s normal. Good writing doesn’t come the first time you sit down.
Louis C.K. is one of the most thoughtful and innovative comics alive right now. I heard him once speak about his HBO show, Lucky Louie, which was cancelled after one season in 2006. He was asked if he was disappointed with that and if he looked back at it as a failure. His answer was unequivocally: “No.” For him it was just another experience that taught him how to hone his craft, which was invaluable.
So those would be my three pieces of (long-winded) advice. One, don’t worry about whether you have anything important to say. If you are inspired, say it. Two, write constantly. You won’t become a good writer unless you’re writing all the time. Three, take every writing experience and use it to hone your craft. Something is not a failure simply because the public doesn’t receive it the way you would like.
THE READING PART
Q- What do you prefer while reading: paperbacks or ebooks?
Depends on the situation. I read both frequently. If forced to answer, I would say my preference is still books in print, but I love ebooks too.
Q- Do you re-read books? One book that you would read again & again?
I do re-read books from time to time. It depends on the book and how impactful it was for me. I have read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis a half dozen times or so. The first time I read it was with my mother. I think I fell in love with storytelling hearing my mother read this book to me. It’s a beautiful fable. I can recall lying up at night before bed as she made the world of C.S. Lewis a reality for me.
Q- Your favourite author(s)?
I feel like this is the question that readers and writers always ask in a judgmental way. It’s as if your readers are going to judge me by the authors I enjoy. “Oh no, I don’t agree with that at all. John Grisham? This guy clearly isn’t serious about his writing.” (I’m smiling if that’s not showing through your computer screen.)
Writers constantly inspire me. I have a lot of authors that I love. A few, in no particular order: Gertrude Warner, Shell Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, C.S. Lewis, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Grisham, Malcolm Gladwell, John Buri, Cormac McCarthy, Bill Bryson and Mark Twain. I could probably list another hundred who’s writing I enjoy with wonderment.
Q- What book(s) are you reading at present?
- Broken Monsters– Lauren Beukes
- The Seventh Wedding- Matt Miller (This book is excellent, but is not projected to be released until 2016)
- The Seeds of Love– Jerry Braza
- Dad Is Fat– Jim Gaffigan
- The Return of the Prodigal Son– Henri J.M. Nouwen
- The Girl On the Train– Paula Hawkins
Parting Words from Dan:
Thank you again, Aman! I have appreciated this opportunity to spend some time with you and your readers. I loved it! You have a wonderful site. I really do hope you and some of your readers will check out my book. I need the support of thoughtful and intelligent readers like yours. The life of an indie author is not easy and I appreciate all the support I can get. And if your readers have questions or comments, please contact me. I would love to hear from your fans and readers. You can reach me via email at danburi777 [at] gmail [dot] com or on twitter @DanBuri777. Thanks!
Dan Buri’s first collection of short fiction, Pieces Like Pottery, is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. His writing is uniquely heartfelt and explores the depths of the human struggle and the human search for meaning in life.
Mr. Buri’s non-fiction works have been distributed online and in print, including publications in Pundit Press, Tree, Summit Avenue Review, American Discovery, and TC Huddle. The defunct and very well regarded Buris On The Couch, was a He-Says/She-Says blog musing on the ups and downs of marriage with his wife.
Mr. Buri is an active attorney in the Pacific Northwest and has been recognized by Intellectual Asset Magazine as one of the World’s Top 300 Intellectual Property Strategists every year since 2010. He lives in Oregon with his wife and two-year-old daughter.
Pieces Like Pottery Links
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