Matt Stauffer | CR Stories Interview

NS:
There is a timelessness to your writing. You span age in human beings in a way that mirrors nature. In ‘Bandon, Oregon’ for example, “His arthritic fingers manipulated the old fish head…”. And you go on and break my heart here, “whose eye stared back at us, as if asking for one last story before bedtime.” Can you talk a little bit about your relationship to nature and aging?

Matt:
Aging is one of nature’s cruelest tricks. Growing old allows us to become so wealthy, both materially and intellectually, but every day we grow older is one fewer day we have to spend that wealth. One really needs to find some perspective to balance those competing desires: nobody wants to live poor, but we don’t want to die rich, either. I think the solution that comes out of “Bandon, Oregon” is recognizing the value of our elders. They have a huge transfer payment of wisdom to give us, and since they can’t take it with them, we may as well take it so it isn’t lost forever when they go.

NS:
Are you a bit of a cowboy poet? Your prose, especially in ‘Discovery Bay’ extends itself from the present to history and back again to excruciating detail about life, nature, death. Quite zen; peaceful. What themes do you find yourself naturally exploring? And do you have any sense of why?

Matt:
I like to write about stuff that people know but that they don’t necessarily think about consciously. That’s the essence of great stand-up comedy–the ability to make your audience say, “Oh yeah, I know exactly what he’s talking about!” I try to create that effect in my writing as well. Obviously I approach my writing from a male perspective, so I tend toward male issues or interests: the outdoors, male relationships (father/son, brothers, best friends, etc.), death. They don’t always make for great stand-up, but they are issues that are relatable, which I think is an important element of good writing.

NS:
When did you begin writing? What did you write about? And, how did you write? Handwriting in a blank book? Or, typing or computer? Talk a bit about your practice.

Matt:
My biggest problem is I’ll get these great ideas, and I’ll spend about two weeks just thinking about what a great idea it is. Then when I actually sit down to write it, I realize there’s no way it can ever live up to what I’ve built up in my head, so I’ll get discouraged and put that idea on the shelf where it usually stays. If I can convince myself that first drafts are never good, then I’ll put an outline down on paper, which is easier to mark up than on a computer, and from there I can type out a first draft. This whole process means I’m not a very prolific writer when it comes to actually putting things down on paper, but my mind is always churning. I’m constantly taking notes throughout the day; if I’m really on my game I’ll have my Moleskine notebook handy, which helps me channel Hemingway without the alcoholism or the violent streak.

NS:
What impassions your writing today? What genre, form? Where are you taking it next? What excites you today?

Matt:
One of my heroes is Gordon Parks. He was such a talent across a range of media–journalism, poetry, stage, screen, novels, photography–and I really admire that flexibility. I’d like to be like Gordon Parks one day. I’ll never be black, but the writing talent is something I aspire to, so I write across a range of genres and media as well: poetry, short fiction, expository essays. I find it also helps my writing process to switch back and forth between projects. If I’m stuck on a poem I’ll switch to an essay, and when that gets stuck I’ll work on a short story. It keeps me from getting burned out on any one thing. I’m polishing up a screenplay right now which will hopefully make it to production some day, and shopping some other projects, but if all I do is write a letter to a friend I consider that a good day.

NS:
Thank you for your brilliant work. What made you choose CR Stories to showcase your work?

Matt:
It sounded like a lot of fun. It’s such a challenge to tell a story in flash fiction style. You really learn to appreciate the luxury of unlimited words.

NS:
Anything else you’d like to add about your work or about writing in general?

Matt:
I had an English professor once say, “Writers hate writing, but love having written.” I’ve found that to be true more than I’d like it to be. There are definitely times in the middle of a piece that I just feel lost at sea, unable to see land in any direction, but once you find it, you realize how far you’ve come.

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One Response to “Matt Stauffer | CR Stories Interview”

  1. Christine says:

    Congrats Matt for getting your stories posted. Keep writing!!!

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