As you know, we’ve been visiting with co-authors of Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. I’ve been sharing the first paragraph of each short story. I can’t do that today, because—TA DA!!—Andrew Adams’s short story is one paragraph, one very big paragraph. In fact, it’s called “The Life and Death of One Big Paragraph.” Andrew was kind enough to give us a chunk of it:
With seven short words he was born. One could argue that he was conceived with the first word or even before the first word, but with seven words it was clear that he had been born. He grew bigger with each word. He had not figured himself out yet and did not know how his life would be, but merely invented what he would do next through trial and error. Part of him knew that as he went along and learned to walk and tripped and jumped to keep his balance, that his life would surely end and that the faster and longer he went on, the closer he came to his inevitable demise. It did not bother him at first so he continued walking and talking and doing whatever seemed right at the time. As the days passed he grew nervous and thought obsessively of his impending doom. Since he knew it was to end someday, he drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes, experimented with drugs, masturbated, and had sex with any partner he could find. He realized that his hedonistic actions would most likely shorten his lifespan even more, but was happy with the fact that they added a few more sentences to his life. He knew that it was important for him to try everything he could: travel, read great novels, try great wines, look for God, and maybe even find true love. He picked up the guitar and learned to play. He stayed up late and stared at the stars, reflecting on how small he was in this great universe. He met a woman, married her, and they had children. He wanted his children to be happy so he got a job at a successful company so he could pay for their education, food, candy, toys, and movies. The job was grueling work and it took up a lot of his time. His wife and children complained that he was never at home. He told them that he was working at the job because he loved them, but he also knew that he shouldn’t be spending his short life away from his family, bombarded by work. He eventually quit the job when he had accumulated enough money. He and his wife went on a vacation with their kids who were teenagers and complained about things their parents said or did, but they all loved each other underneath it all and were happy.
Andrew, welcome to the blog. What inspired you to write “The Life and Death of One Big Paragraph?”
Back in 2011, I had this idea of a story falling down. That a story wasn’t just a story but something that was doomed to end just like life ended in death. Then I started writing it and must have been partly inspired by EL Doctorow’s Ragtime and Raymond Carver’s “Will You Please be Quiet Please?” which make their own sort of cameos in the piece.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
I would like them to laugh, especially at the parts which made me laugh, and I hope they don’t get too bogged down by the format of the giant paragraph but just find the playful rhythm within.
How long have you been writing?
Since early high school, maybe even earlier if you count silly imitations and comic stories I wrote for school back in 5th grade. Maybe even earlier if you count the beginning of a novel I started co-writing with a friend during free period in 4th grade; it was a knock off of those Redwall books except the main characters were squirrels if I remember correctly, but I didn’t start setting a real intention and discipline until 2010, the year I graduated from college.
Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do for a living?
Unfortunately, I do not. I open doors for people who make more money than I do, more specifically I work security at fancy retail stores in New York. I also work in catering and have done background work on TV shows. In addition to writing I am pursuing acting, having just recently graduated from a 2 year program at The William Esper Studio.
Those are the kinds of jobs that provide lots of writing fodder! I’ll bet you spend a great deal of time “people watching.”
Do you only write short fiction? If not, how does writing a short story differ from writing a novel? (Other than the obvious length/time.)
I think short fiction is my favorite because I can finish them while they’re hot. I get a lot of ideas and can often give up on would-be novels due to lack of a consistent schedule but often boredom and subsequent doubt of the project as a whole. Having said that I have written various novellas, 2 (or 3) novels, 2 screenplays, a TV pilot, and 2 plays.
What does your typical “writing day” look like?
It used to be different before I moved to New York: I would grab a coffee or tea then go into a room and write at least 500 words. Now it happens whenever I get the time, solitude, and focus, and anything better than 1 word is progress. It requires quiet and no distractions. Distractions include the apocalyptic churning of the latte machine and any conversation whatsoever. Cafes don’t work for me unless they share the vibe of a library with trapdoors on the floor threatening to expel those who talk into The Sunken Place.
I believe we might be writing soul mates. I cannot tolerate any conversation when I’m in the zone. This is me, when interrupted:
What are you currently reading?
Generation of Swine by Hunter S. Thompson, mainly. I have also recently gotten into graphic novels, finishing the brilliant Watchmen last month and moving onto another by Alan Moore: Promethea. I have also started Demons by Dostoyevsky and Pere Goriot by Honoré de Balzac. I also just reread The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, one of my first influences. My current (but also deceased) favorite author is Graham Greene.
Your reading list makes mine look like this:
Other than this spectacular anthology, do you have any recent or upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about?
My novella Horatio is forthcoming, also by Running Wild Press, in Running Wild Anthology of Novellas, Volume 2.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
The same most writers already give: Read a lot and write a lot. And live a lot. And when you have time away from living, write what you learned.
I would also recommend On Writing by Stephen King, to any aspiring writer. On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner was also helpful for me.
I think the main thing for an artist and really anyone to realize is that even if you aren’t published, rich, famous, successful, you are still inherently worth it, as long as you are out there trying. I wrote my story seven years ago and it got published now, not because I’m any better or successful now, but just because that’s the way life works.
Sound advice. Where can readers learn more about you and your work?