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“A Writing Process Blog Tour” by Dan Nielsen

September 4, 2014

My heartfelt thanks to the amazing Claire Lombardo for inviting me to do this.

What are you working on?

I write 5-line poems I call FIVES, and pair them with drawings of faces I call FACES. I gather these into half-sized chapbooks I call FACES & FIVES. Links to these can be found at the top of this page. Print copies are available for the asking.

I also write Flash Fiction. My target is 700 words. I can work on a FLASH for hours at a time, and more hours the next day, and so on, until I feel it is finished. I’ll then send it somewhere, and usually, thankfully, someone will have the good sense to send it back. Then I work on it for more hours and send it somewhere else. After the third rejection, I set it aside for six months or a year. When I pick it up again I am a better writer and it becomes a better story.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Let’s say Raymond Carver writes a story, and Gordon Lish edits that story, and then one other person, a crazy person, looks at the Lish edit, and says, “So much of this needs to be cut!” That’s how I want to write prose.

My FIVES, I feel, are idiosyncratic. I’m nobody, but anyone familiar with my work would recognize a genuine FIVES. Here are three examples.

I thought I saw myself
floating above the bed,
but it was
my levitating
identical twin.

The Big Bang
came as a complete surprise
to the Infinite

I have a reticent form
of OCD
that compels me
to do certain things,
but not right now.

Why do you write what you do?

I write to amuse myself, not just with the writing, but with the entire process. I like the submission game. It’s great. The best work always finds a home. I like reading the magazines and getting to know the editors and contributors. It’s such a joy to read something that affects me deeply, and then, with a few keystrokes, let the author know exactly how I feel. And there is always a response. Writers are the most generous and open people in the world.

In the early 90s I had a magazine called “Blank Gun Silencer: words and images for the hyperactive nihilist.” I did that for five years. I learned so much and met so many talented people. I remember writing a fan letter to Marianne Faithful and telling her about the magazine. She replied graciously and sent me her poems. It felt like a miracle.

If anyone is reading this, there is a good chance that you are also involved in a literary magazine, or small press project. Congratulations and thank you. We all need to take our turn.

How does your writing process work?

I write slowly and edit obsessively. I’ll write a story ten different ways. If I think of a better ending, I’m fine changing ever word from the very beginning to arrive smoothly at that ending, and I’ll do that as many times as it takes. I have a few trusted readers of work in progress. More than likely you are the only ones reading this. I thank you all once again for your patience and friendship. I listen to your advice and use your suggestions. I know next to nothing, but I’m willing and anxious to learn.

Writing FIVES is much easier. I smoke a bowl and see what happens.

It is my profound pleasure to invite these fine writers.

Christine Brandel

Molly Laich

Nicholas Michael Ravnikar


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