The Writing Life of: Dan Buri
This week on ‘The Writing Life of:‘ I am thrilled to be interviewing author Dan Buri.
Dan Buri’s first collection of short fiction, Pieces Like Pottery, is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. His writing is uniquely heartfelt and explores the depths of the human struggle and the human search for meaning in life.
Mr. Buri’s non-fiction works have been distributed online and in print, including publications in Pundit Press, Tree, Summit Avenue Review, American Discovery, and TC Huddle. The defunct and very well regarded Buris On The Couch, was a He-Says/She-Says blog musing on the ups and downs of marriage with his wife.
Mr. Buri is an active attorney in the Pacific Northwest and has been recognized by Intellectual Asset Magazine as one of the World’s Top 300 Intellectual Property Strategists every year since 2010. He lives in Oregon with his wife and two-year-old daughter.
1) Do you remember the moment you decided that you would like to become a writer?
I can remember writing as far back as middle school. It’s something I have always enjoyed doing. One of the first poems I ever wrote was about my older brother and his basketball playing abilities. I still remember the opening lines and I wrote them as a kid nearly 30-years ago:
I’m Joe the King of Basketball,
I’m the king of the basketball court.
All my shots are always on target,
None of them are ever short.
I didn’t say it was any good! I don’t remember any more than that. To be honest, I’m not sure how I even remember those lines. The point is…writing has been something I have always enjoyed doing myself and admired in other people. Story telling is a beautiful gift. I love learning to hone the craft.
2) How did you go about following your dream?
Tough question. I try to do whatever I can to the best of my ability. I try to be authentic and vulnerable. And I don’t try to be what anyone else wants me to be. Easier said than done.
3) Is there a particular author that inspires you?
I feel like this is the question that readers and writers always ask in a judgemental way. It’s as if your readers are going to judge me by the authors I enjoy. “Oh no, I don’t agree with that at all. John Grisham? This guy clearly isn’t serious about his writing.” (I’m smiling if that’s not showing through your computer screen.)
Some writers that inspire me, in no particular order: Gertrude Warner, Dr. Seuss, C.S. Lewis, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Charles Dickens, John Grisham, Shel Silverstein, Malcolm Gladwell, John Buri, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cormac McCarthy, and Bill Bryson…to name a few.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any strange writing habits?
Once upon a time I thought I needed to write in a particular time and place. I would typically write at night and need to be in the perfect mood to do so. With a very demanding job, a wonderful wife, and two-year-old daughter, however, I quickly found that I was not finding much time to write at all. I had to begin writing anytime I could find a free 30 minutes. I was lucky I did too.
I think young writers always wait for the moment of inspiration to strike. These moments are amazing, but they are a great luxury. The truth, in my opinion, is that writing is as much about editing and revising as it is about the writing itself. I have so many pages of "Pieces Like Pottery" on the cutting room floor, so to speak.
Maybe editing is a beautiful and inspiring process for some people, but for most writers I know, it is painstaking. There’s nothing inspirational about it for me. Having very little time to write each day helped me to begin taking my writing to the next level, to learn to hone it as a craft, rather than writing simply being an inspirational hobby. I had to find time to write whenever I could, regardless of whether the circumstances were perfect.
That being said, I still love to write at night over a nice glass of wine or a whiskey. Nothing beats that.
5) Do you write Longhand, Type writer, Computer?
I’ve seen a type writer at a museum once. I kid. I kid.
I do most of my writing at the computer. I keep a journal of notes and ideas that strike me throughout the day. We all have what an old teacher of mine liked to call pristine moments of coherence—those moments when an idea strikes us so profoundly and clearly. I don’t want to lose those thoughts when I have them, so I try to write them down. As I am writing a particular piece or story, I will pull concepts from my journals or other notebooks.
6) From all your books, do you have a favourite character?
What a difficult question. It’s like asking someone to pick his or her favorite child. If I was forced to pick, I think I would choose Mr. Smith, the teacher from Expect Dragons (the middle story in Pieces Like Pottery).
I have had some amazing teachers and mentors in my lifetime. Both of my parents are teachers, as well as my sister and sister-in-law. Teachers give us so much of themselves and as a society, at least here in the States, we tend to give them so little back. It’s really sad.
7) Do you plot your books completely before hand or do you let your imagination flow whilst in the writing process?
Both. I typically have an idea or framework for a story before I begin. Once I have that and I am writing, then I will let the story development where it wants to go.
In one of the stories in "Pieces Like Pottery", the ending I had planned just didn’t work. It felt dishonest to take the reader on the journey and then finish with the original ending. I just knew the reader would feel betrayed, so I had to rework it.
So sometimes the original plan just doesn’t work and the story unfolds on it’s own.
Concerning your latest book:
Author – Dan Buri
Publisher – DJB Publishing
Release Date – 2nd October 2015
Format – ebook, paperback
The first collection of short fiction from Dan Buri, ‘Pieces Like Pottery’ is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. In this distinct selection of stories marked by struggle and compassion, "Pieces Like Pottery" is a powerful examination of the sorrows of life, the strength of character, the steadfast of courage, and the resiliency of love requisite to find redemption.
Filled with graceful insight into the human condition, each linked story presents a tale of loss and love. In Expect Dragons, James Hinri learns that his old high school teacher is dying. Wanting to tell Mr. Smith one last time how much his teaching impacted him, James drives across the country revisiting past encounters with his father’s rejection and the pain of his youth. Disillusioned and losing hope, little did James know that Mr. Smith had one final lesson for him.
In The Gravesite, Lisa and Mike’s marriage hangs in the balance after the disappearance of their only son while backpacking in Thailand. Mike thinks the authorities are right—that Chris fell to his death in a hiking accident—but Lisa has her doubts. Her son was too strong to die this young, and no one can explain to her why new posts continue to appear on her son’s blog.
Twenty-Two looks in on the lives of a dock worker suffering from the guilt of a life not lived and a bartender making the best of each day, even though he can see clearly how his life should have been different. The two find their worlds collide when a past tragedy shockingly connects them.
A collection of nine stories, each exquisitely written and charged with merciful insight into the trials of life, ‘Pieces Like Pottery’ reminds us of the sorrows we all encounter in life and the kindness we receive, often times from the unlikeliest of places.
Why not have a read of our five star review of – ‘Pieces Like Pottery‘
8) How long did it take to get from the ideas stage, to the date of publication?
Ha. You don’t want to know. I started this work back in 2008 and it was just recently published. I guess that’s the life of an indie author trying to get published for the first time and working a demanding job (not related to being a writer)—time is limited. That’s why I did need your wonderful site and your lovely readers. I hope at least some of you will get my book. I really think they will enjoy it and I would love to hear thoughts from your readers.
9) Did you suffer from writer’s block at any stage? How did you overcome it?
Without question I suffered from writer’s block. I think any writer that say she/he doesn’t is lying. I would try to write my way out of it. It’s not fun, but I would just keep writing. Usually the words I wrote as I was trying to get out of it weren’t any good, but hopefully I would eventually get through it.
I also write non-fiction for a number of websites and blogs, so I had the luxury of putting the book aside at times and focusing on other work. If all else failed, I would go outside. Nature always seems to inspire me.
10) How did you come up with the name(s)for your lead character(s)?
Well, I could tell, but it’s one of the Easter eggs in the book, so I’m going to leave it as a mystery for the reader to find. I will say this—there is very little in the book that isn’t intentional, so look closely. Stories may be intertwined, names may have meaning, and themes may be linked.
Hopefully in addition to enjoying the stories of their own, your readers enjoy searching for clues almost like a mystery novel, challenging the reader to pick up the individual pieces of the story and piece them together into a grander whole.
11) If your book was made in to a film, who would you love to play the lead character(s)?
People love asking me this question and I find it very difficult. I’m not sure why I find it so difficult. I think Robin Williams would have done a great job with Mr. Smith if he were still alive.
12) Did you get anyone in particular to read your work before sending it to the publisher i.e family member, friend etc?
Oh yes. I had a number of friends and family members read the book and provide feedback. They were very kind to provide me with their thoughts and insights.