Interview with Dan Buri

When did you first start writing?
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 nearly 30-years ago as a kid:

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 and something I have always admired in other people. Story telling is a beautiful gift. I love learning to hone the craft.
What do your fans mean to you?
I was thrilled when my book became a #1 Bestseller on Amazon for short stories. That was really exciting and only due to the love and support of my readers. Even more than that, however, are the personal stories that readers share with me. I feel blessed to be connecting with readers on a personal level. I'll share one of the most touching.

There was one lovely woman, though, that had some feedback that really touched me. In her review itself she had wonderful things to say, commenting how she wanted to give the book 10 stars instead of 5 and how people will want to read my book again and again; but she contacted me directly as well. She told me that her husband was an Air Force helicopter pilot who died in 2012 in a mid-air collision. She had spoken to him one last time less than 2 hours before he passed away. His last words to her, she says, were nearly identical to the last words in my book—“I’m yours, and that’s it. Forever.”
 She was so moved and just cried. She told me that she could never thank me enough for bringing her that experience in my writing. Simply beautiful.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Great question. I am moved and inspired by people’s real life stories of overcoming tragedy. Every person has trials in life. Life always presents obstacles and disappointments. I wanted to examine how individuals overcome these obstacles in a variety of characters. I toyed with the idea of each of these stories being its own novel, and I still may expand a couple of them into full length novels, but I settled in on a collection of linked short stories because it presented the opportunity to have a range of characters and display that, despite how different our life experiences are, we are all connected as human beings. We all suffer and laugh just the same. My hope is that readers recognize that and are inspired or moved to compassion through the book. Utilizing the thematic framework of each of the five sorrowful mysteries was simply a way to communicate that suffering and redemption.
What would be the top three things you would tell aspiring authors?
Over the years I have been lucky enough to be offered abundant feedback and to hear excellent commentary from a few creative people that I admire greatly. There are three comments/ideas that have stuck with me throughout all my writing endeavors. (Each of these is summarized in my own words.)

1. When asked about the fears and doubts that she had with her writing, Elizabeth Gilbert (best selling author of Eat, Pray, Love) said she finally had an epiphany that her “writing muse” was telling her that this isn’t her story. If she doesn’t tell it, she said, then the muse would move on to someone else who will. Ms. Gilbert discussed how freeing this was for her. She was no longer declaring to the reader: “Listen to me. I have something to say.” It was almost as if she had no other choice but to write. This opened her up to write every day without fear of the result.

2. Ira Glass is an American public radio personality and the host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life. He has a great quote for young creatives. In short, he encourages that your work is not going to be good when you’re first starting out. We may have an excitement for our craft and a killer taste for what’s good, but our execution is poor. The only way to improve your work, the only way to close the gap so that your work is as good as your ambitions, is to do a lot of work. Write. Every day. Every week put yourself on a deadline to write something new. It’s going to take awhile, but that’s normal. Good writing doesn’t come the first time you sit down.

3. Louis C.K. is one of the most thoughtful and innovative comics alive right now. I heard him once speak about his HBO show, Lucky Louie, which was cancelled after one season in 2006. He was asked if he was disappointed with that and if he looked back at it as a failure. His answer was unequivocally: “No.” For him it was just another experience that taught him how to hone his craft, which was invaluable.

So those would be my three pieces of (long-winded) advice. One, don’t worry about whether you have anything important to say. If you are inspired, say it. Two, write constantly. You won’t become a good writer unless you’re writing all the time. Three, take every writing experience and use it to hone your craft. Something is not a failure simply because the public doesn’t receive it the way you would like.
What are you working on next?
I am always actively writing and exploring opportunities with others on my indie book website Nothing Any Good (www.nothinganygood.com). We've had some amazing articles and advice from a lot of authors there. I am also in the very, very early stages of creating my publishing company—DJB Publishing.

As for books, I two projects actively in the works:

(1) I am writing the second installment of the short story series (Pieces Like Pottery was the first). This second installment is based on the themes of The Joyful Mysteries, so for those readers that loved Pieces Like Pottery but asked for something less said the next time around, ask and you shall receive.

(2) I have a very unique group of childhood friends and we are still friends to this day. We are a band of misfits and often heard we wouldn’t amount to anything if we didn’t straighten up. 20-some years later, we are all married with kids. We are lawyers, actuaries, Air Force pilots, and artists, and I don’t think we’ve changed one bit at all. We are still rambunctious and always questioning authority. I have begun writing a memoir-type account with one chapter dedicated to each friend and the main character they posses that propelled them into the man they are today and the success they’ve seen.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Enjoying the outdoors. Taking in a sporting event. Spending time with my family. Praying. Meditating. Playing basketball. Playing guitar. Photography.
What is your writing process?
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 and a wonderful family with whom I want to spend time, 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 glass of wine or a fine whiskey. Nothing beats that.

As far as where I write, I write on my computer or in my journals. 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. Once I have the framework and I am writing the story, then I will let it develop where it wants to go. As I am writing, I will pull concepts from my journals or other notebooks into the story.
Describe your desk
Ha! I've never had this question before. I like it. It's littered with papers, pens, notebooks, pos-its, and printouts. There's always (at least) on coffee mug and one water glass. (Unless it's in the nighttime, then you'll usually be able to spot a wine glass or scotch.) Front and center is my large computer display and a picture of me with my daughter.
Which book would you say had the biggest effect on your personal development?
Wow, this is a tough question. If I’m forced to choose one, I would say The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (by C.S. Lewis). I’ve read it a half dozen times or so, but the first time I read it was with my mother. I think I fell in love with storytelling hearing my mother read this book to me. It’s a beautiful fable. I can recall laying up at night before bed as she made the world of C.S. Lewis a reality for me.
Who are your favorite authors?
This is a question I get a lot and I find it difficult to answer every time. I’m not exactly sure why it’s so hard for me. Maybe it’s because my reading interests are so widespread. I feel like this is the question that readers and writers always ask in a judgmental 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 am constantly inspired by writers, but I made a decision a long time ago not to try to duplicate any other author’s style. I wanted to find my own voice and have worked diligently at that. I have a lot of authors that I love, though. A few, in no particular order: Gertrude Warner, Shell Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, C.S. Lewis, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Grisham, Malcolm Gladwell, John Buri, Cormac McCarthy, Bill Bryson and Mark Twain. I could probably list another hundred who’s writing I enjoy with wonderment.
Published 2016-07-19.
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Books by This Author

Pieces Like Pottery
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 62,710. Language: American English. Published: October 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Inspirational
(4.00 from 1 review)
****4.5 out 5 Stars with 97 reviews on Amazon**** 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. Charged with merciful insight into the trials of life, reminding us of the sorrows we all encounter and the kindness we receive, oftentimes from the unlikeliest of place