Read Josh Rank’s “Drowning Without Sinking.”
1. What made you want to become a writer?
I took a creative writing class in college on a whim. I found myself continually looking around to come up with ideas for stories since we had to turn in quite a lot of writing for an introductory course. After the semester was over, I missed the amount of attention the class forced me pay to my surroundings. Aside from the exercise of analyzing events and motives and emotions, I found writing helped me to appreciate things in my day-to-day life, so I continued to do it.
2. What is your genre or writing style and has it changed over time?
I stick mostly to realism. Misunderstandings, disagreements, and arguments that I don’t allow myself to have in real life can find a nice home on the page. I also think it helps me understand the people I come into contact with on a daily basis. Instead of just saying What the hell is wrong with this person? it gives me the chance to find a possible reason for baffling behavior.
My writing was more surreal when I started, to the point where my teacher was baffled I hadn’t read Franz Kafka (I have since rectified this). I still enjoy dabbling with the magical once in a while, but it’s not as prevalent as it once was.
3. What has helped you the most in the writing pursuit?
Stephen King. Not that I met him personally (although I imagine we’d be best friends if we only had the chance). Up until a few years ago, I had only managed to get one story published and I was writing intermittently, and not very well. But then I read King’s craft book On Writing and it changed not only my attitude about writing, but the way I went about doing it. The results were almost immediate. I had a dozen stories published over the following year.
4. How would you describe your writing practice?
I like to think of it as a sprint. After finding the idea for a story, I will hammer out the first draft usually in one sitting (maybe two) and then let it sit. I’ll start working on something else until I get some distance from it, then rework the next draft as quickly as the first one. Sprint, rest. Sprint, rest. There are two building drafts, then a subtraction draft (the idea of taking 10% off the word count comes directly from On Writing), then a finalizing draft. Only after the last draft will I sometimes ask my girlfriend to look it over and find out if I wasted my time or if I should send it out for consideration.
5. What are you writing now?
I’m perpetually in the middle of finishing up some short stories, but my main goal right now (besides selling the novel I wrote last year) is to write a magical realist novella. I want to get back to the idea that anything is possible and let myself go crazy with it. The hard part will be to find a reason for the magical parts so people aren’t just walking through walls for no reason besides the fact that it’s cool.
6. Where can someone find out more about your work?
I am on twitter (@jpockets) and also have a website (www.joshrank.com) where I have links to every published short story. Twitter will have the quickest updates but I could use some traffic on the website to justify its existence.