thousands of words

well, technically we'll hit more than a thousand if you count david's story for 1000 words (which is up by the way). i thought it might be fun to have david do a little interview today, to get a peek at one of the masterminds responsible for 1000 words. so. here we go.

how long have you been writing?

I completed my first feature-length screenplay summer of 1999. So a little longer than that.

i know you have various styles of writing (short stories, prose, plays, scripts etc) is there one you are drawn to more? or do you orient yourself to what you have at hand?

I'm drawn to movie scripts and short stories. My storytelling is cinematic, so my writing leans toward shorter forms. My retirement plan is to write a novel. I have no 401k.

what has been the most surprising aspect of working on the 1K project?

How easy it is to be inspired by your photography. I thought it might be hard to come up with ideas, but the hardest part has been to narrow all of the ideas down for each piece.

do you feel limited by the word count?

Unlike many artists, I presume, I thrive within structure and limitations. This is why I like scripts so much. There are a crap ton of rules, and I love that. And I add my own on top of that. I wasn't there, but I'm told that DaVinci once said, "Only within limitations can genius flourish." I'm no genius, but I dig it.

what do you say to people who want more to the story?
Literally, I say, "Cool." For this interview, I'll expound: One of my own rules is that a character cannot exist just to be in my story or script. The character has to be a real person who exists, and my story is just a bigtime moment in his or her life. That said, there is always more to the story. Hardly anything will actually be "told" about most of us, and I like to think it's the same for the characters I create.

what is your process once you receive the photograph for the month?

I come to you and say, "Wow, thanks for leaving me a whole 10 days to do my end of this project. Why did I ever agree to this?" And then I think about it for a week or so, because you usually, in truth, get the picture to me with much more time than 10 days. Then stories and characters start coming to mind when I least expect it, and I take out my iPhone (holla!) and use the handy "Notes" app to preserve them, because if I don't, someone (usually a child) will come up to me and start talking, and I'll immediately forget my ideas. Then I handwrite the first draft, so I can't count the words as I go. Then I rethink it, type it up, see how much over or under I am, re-rethink it to get it close, then start assassinating words left and right until I get it down to 1000. I actually go, "Pschoo!" like the sound of a sniper rifle when I hit delete. (Not really.)((Okay...really.))

which month so far is your favorite?

I'm not very good at answering "favorite" questions, but what I will do is (briefly) tell you things I particularly like about each one.

FEB - I like how visceral it is and consequently the visceral reaction from readers.
MAR - I like the imagery, specifically when the woman leaves the laundromat a "new" person and she's so empowered that she imagines the cars as toys.
APR - We experience Gene's 40-year emotional journey in about 10 minutes story time and one thousand words. That's killer.
MAY - I'm proud of myself for testing the supernatural waters. Okay, it's more serendipitous than supernatural, but look for more bits of "magic" in future stories.

what is it like to collaborate with such a talented, hot photographer (who is also a fantastic cook)?

"I have no idea," is the answer you're expecting. And it's the answer you would've received had we done this face-to-face, because I don't use emoticons ;-). But since this is an email, here's my answer, which will be shorter than my explanation of the forthcoming answer: It's like making plans with your best friend, who you know will show up no matter what and you'll have a good time with no matter what.

what writers or stories inspire or influence you?

When I was 13, Ray Bradbury transformed me into a reader, and I'm 99% sure I have the largest Bradbury book collection on my street. So I'd have to say he's responsible for it all. Nobody quirky or overly literary or obscure. You know, Steinbeck's WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT, Salinger's FRANNY & ZOOEY, Harper Lee's TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD, Asimov's FOUNDATION TRILOGY. I also like the Russians because they're dark and brooding and unapologetic megalomaniacs.


Blogger David said...

hey now! a picture of me wasn't part of the bargain. sneaky...

7:19 AM  
OpenID bferry said...

pschoo! this rocks.
david, i'm really enjoying '1000 words'. thanks for sharing.

7:34 AM  
Blogger A Day That is Dessert said...

I agree with Brian - this rocks!

8:47 AM  
Blogger wendy said...

you too are the coolest.
i love this behind the scenes of one of my favorite projects!
brilliant - both of you are brilliant.

9:03 AM  
Blogger claire said...

gah. could you two be more awesome!?
i just want to squish you both.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Tara Thayer said...

I like this part the best:"my story is just a bigtime moment in his or her life".
I actually view things in these terms, in real life. That every moment could be the centerpiece of a whole story.
Plus, don't you think there's one question you'd like to ask of everyone you know, and it's a different question for each person?
And the answer to that question is their story?
Got to go interview Tim now...

4:49 PM  
Blogger beth said...

oh you two. in a word: delightful. david, i'm glad you had to write out your answers. :)

9:19 PM  
Blogger kristen said...

i always have a hard time answering favorite questions. there are too many favorite parts in this interview for me to choose. i love getting insight into the mind and thought processes of a close friend - i'm so glad you did this hannah. and i'm totally digging 1,000 words. it's so fun to see the result of you two collaborating.

9:21 PM  
Anonymous hanne said...

hi david,
you two are so very very good!

3:43 AM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

This is my favorite interview ever in the history of interviews. I laughed, I cried.

Please move here.

9:16 AM  

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