When I finally began to write about what I knew (it’s obvious— but it’s not obvious until you know what it is you know!) it felt like opening a door and coming home. This wasn’t really a matter of the subjects—people, relationships, families: I’d tried all that before. It was a matter of the voice; it was that I discovered what I sounded like, what I needed to sound like, to tell my truth about what I saw.
I believe that intentions matter. They matter in life and they matter in writing fiction. If you sincerely want to explore the humanity of a character who happens to be of a different race, that sincerity will shine through. Readers are so awesomely smart.
Bloom Staff Writer Joe Schuster had the chance to chat with Katherine Heiny, author of the just-released story collection—25 years in the making— Single, Carefree, Mellow.
I was telling myself stories in my head before I learned how to read, so there was really no original inspiration other than boredom and instinct.
Sometimes I become frustrated with writing, when I know a photograph would communicate in an instant what I want to express, while prose will take five thousand words, and those five thousand words won’t come close. But then words, one after another after another, can expose layers that no photograph can reveal.
“As for my research process: undiscriminating and ravenous. I read everything I could get my hands on related to squatting in general and the history of squatting on the Lower East Side in particular.”
The thing that she said repeatedly was that people, especially artists, should spend time alone. “If you’re alone and quiet, you see the new things.”