My internship at McSweeney’s has long ended. But from that experience, despite setbacks I had (i.e. my stupid computer which was broken at the time I acquired this internship), I definitely gained some ground as a writer— what to focus on and how to make it all work.
Some of these things I’ve learned came directly from the big man at McSweeney’s himself. He’s definitely one of my favorite writers and I’m happy that he’s reestablished San Francisco’s mark on the literary scene with all the great works his publishing house has given us. It’s a shame I only recently just bought an actual book by him– I’ve read A Hologram for a King and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, but How We Are Hungry is the only book I own of Dave Eggers. God, his short stories are fantastic. Quick reads that run through your mind the entire day, prose that’s so short but concise in each sentence that moves along to the next. My favorite story so far is just “About the Man Who Began Flying After Meeting Her,” and it’s not really even a story. It’s a thought process, the one we all have when we’ve found the One. The One? And that’s exactly the point of this purely simple love story. As you can see, How We Are Hungry is the gateway title into that colorful and striking world of Eggers; truly recommend it.
One meeting with Dave lead to some pretty basic but enduring truths to being exactly the writer you want to be:
- DON’T GET FANCY. If you see an opportunity to publish, no matter how small (Tumblr what), go for it. Let go of waiting around for The New Yorker or Vanity Fair to pick up your work.
- TAKE TIME OFF TO LIVE. If you go straight into an MFA in writing, what can you write about? Dave said to take a year to do shitty jobs, travel, see things usually outside your experience— and it will always give you something on which to write your Masters’ piece.
- SHOW YOUR WORK TO PEOPLE. With spilling out an entire piece at once, you risk ending up with a whole bunch of mess that’ll take longer to edit and revise. Periodically showing peers in a workshop your drafts make the writing process even more enjoyable than strenuous.