Writers on Writing: The Art of the Short Story

By Maurice A. Lee | Go to book overview

Telling Stories in My Head

Chris Offutt

Despite having written more than 100 short stories and publishing two collections, I don't consider myself a writer. The writing is secondary and always has been. What I am is a storyteller.

I am not attempting to draw cultural distinctions about my role in society, casting myself as contemporary shaman, soothsayer, court jester, or mythomaniac. I am content with my job description. I have always strung words into sentences on paper, but today the world calls me a writer due solely to having published. Before that, people considered me a restaurant worker who was not living up to his potential. I was pretty smart for a hillbilly, pretty well read for a dishwasher, pretty talented for a waiter.

What mattered was publication. Without such a claim, I was someone with a pencil and a part-time job. I was the scruffy guy scribbling on a park bench that you might shake your head over, wondering idly what he found so fascinating that he could publicly wall himself off from a gorgeous June day, oblivious to strolling women, a singing busker, the flight of birds, and sunlight sparkling on a pond. Even though I wrote several hours a day for a decade, I would never be regarded as a writer until a magazine printed a story. This didn't happen until I was age 31 for the simple reason that it didn't occur to me to send stories out.

After publication transformed me into someone worthy of interviews (as if I was a different person from the day before) I was suddenly thrust into the position of commenting about something that I had never talked about. I told journalists that 1 wrote to keep terror and despair at bay. It felt true and sounded enigmatic. There was the suggestion of darkness and volatility,

-169-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Writers on Writing: The Art of the Short Story
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 248

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.