The Writer’s Handful with Rob Davidson

Davidson headshot 1Harrumph. Mondays. What’s to look forward to? Hey, how about a new series dedicated to brief conversations with writers of all genres, at all stages of their careers? Yes! How cool would that be? Very cool.

So welcome to THE WRITER’S HANDFUL. In this new series, a writer will answer five questions anyway they want to. The questions will stay the same each time. The writers will be different. And I will post the interviews on Mondays.

Mondays + Writers = finally something to look forward to.

Week two of The Writer’s Handful features Rob Davidson, a wonderful fiction writer I met recently in California.

Welcome Rob!

Did you write today? If yes, what? If no, why not?

Yes, I wrote a draft of an essay about my beginnings as a writer. It was requested by an editor at the website Necessary Fiction (

What’s the first thing (story, poem, song, etc.) you remember writing, and how old were you when you wrote it?

I wrote a song called “Petrified Wood” when I was about eight. That’s the first creative thing I remember writing. I can still sing the chorus.

What are you reading right now?

Right now I am reading Paul Auster’s new memoir, “Winter Journal.” It’s fantastic.

What’s the most important advice you ever received? (Writerly or otherwise.)TFS_front cover final

Perhaps the most important writing advice I ever got was from Isaak Dineson: A writer should work a little bit every day, without hope or despair. I discovered that gem in Raymond Carver’s wonderful essay “On Writing” and I think of it nearly every day.

If your writing were an animal, what animal would it be? Because…

If my writing were an animal, I believe it would be a garden snail. I’m talking about the process now, not the end product. Snails are slow and a little messy, but they make great and thorough use of what they come across. And they have a hard shell to protect them so they can go about their snaily business.

Image from S for Snail
Image from S for Snail


Rob Davidson’s most recent book is The Farther Shore: Stories (Bear Star, 2012), which was nominated for the 2012 Story Prize. He lives in Chico, California. Visit his website

→Thanks to Rob Davidson for this conversation, and thanks to you, as always, for reading! -PMc←

Beautiful Sentences

Image by Philip Hartigan, from Climbing the Crooked Trails Print and Audio Installation

I’m teaching a Critical Reading and Writing: Short Stories class this year to a group of engaged and eager graduate students in Creative Writing: Fiction at Columbia College Chicago. Lately, we have entered into an ongoing conversation about beautiful sentences. (Beauty is in the eye of the reader and all that…) As a writer or prose and a lover of poetry and plays, I often find myself stunned, enthralled, swept away, breathless, thick-throated, and love-struck by single sentences. I bet you do as well.

On occasion–say, twice a week or so–I would like to share a beautiful sentence I have discovered while reading. I will offer it to you without comment but for where I found it.

Feel free to share your own with me (us) here. And as always, thanks for reading!

Beautiful sentence #1: “They were flying high and low but ever round and round in straight and curving lines and ever flying from left to right, circling about a temple of air.” – James Joyce, PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN

Rest in Peace ~ A View From the Keyboard of Harry Crews

“If you wait until you got time to write a novel, or time to write a story, or time to read the hundred thousands of books you should have already read – if you wait for the time, you will never do it. ‘Cause there ain’t no time; world don’t want you to do that. World wants you to go to the zoo and eat cotton candy, preferably seven days a week.”

Harry Crews (6/7/35 – 3/28/2012)