Today I have an exemplary writer with me. His book stole the hearts of many, made a emotional hubub in several hearts.
Dan Buri author of Pieces Like Pottery
Hi Dan, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Dan: Thank you for hosting me on your site, Rakhi. This is a great place for us all to indulge in our shared love of reading and writing. I am grateful to be here and hopefully I have the opportunity to get to know your audience better.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Dan: I grew up in the Midwest in the States with four brothers and one sister. I moved out to the beautiful Pacific Northwest a little over ten years ago. I am a patent attorney with an engineering background, which is what I spend my days doing when I am not writing. I have a beautiful wife and amazing two-year-old daughter who cracks me up daily.
Tell me about pieces of pottery.
Dan: Pieces Like Pottery is an examination of the sorrows of life, the strength of character, the steadfast of courage, and the resiliency of love requisite to find redemption. Offering graceful insight into the human condition, each linked story presents a tale of loss and love. Charged with characters mercifully experiencing trials in life, the book reminds us of the sorrows we all encounter and the kindness we receive, oftentimes from the unlikeliest of places.
Why an indulgence to tragedy
Dan: Great question, although I wouldn’t call it an indulgence, per se. 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.
Do you write poems? I could see a poet throughout the book and I mis-typed Pieces of Poetry in my review.
Dan: Yes, of course. Two of the nine pieces in the book were poems—Breathe and Two Friends.
What genre are your books?
Dan: They’ve been classified as Literary Fiction or Contemporary Fiction. I have also seen them classified as inspirational or spiritual.
Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?
Dan: Not yet, although my non-fiction writing has been distributed to a variety of sources over the years.
When did you decide to become a writer?
Dan: I can remember writing as far back as middle school. It’s something I have always enjoyed doing. 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.
How are you publishing this book and why?
Dan: I am publishing as an Indie author through my own publishing company—DJB Publishing. The why question is quite complex, but the simplest answer is that it offered the simplest avenue for me to publish the type of work that I wanted to publish.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Dan: I think self-publishing and indie publishing was looked down upon in the past, but we have seen significant changes in the last 3-to-5 years. Ebooks have done wonders for changing the accessibility of indie authors, both from a publishing standpoint as well as from a readership standpoint. It has become much easier to see your work published than, say, 20 years ago. This has naturally had an effect on what gets published. The big six publishers are large corporations and as much as they aim to focus on creativity and great works, it’s difficult for them because they have thousands of people that work for them and rely on them. So the big six are constantly focused on what will be a commercial success. The irony is that they don’t know what will be a commercial success just like you and I don’t know. What do Harry Potter, A Wrinkle in Time, Gone With the Wind, and Twilight have in common? They were all initially rejected by publishers. The big publishers just don’t know what’s going to sell. Indie authors have a little bit of freedom from this market pressure. We all want our books to do well commercially of course, but we are also able to take creative chances that a big six publisher might be unwilling to take.
I think the quality of indie/self-published books has improved immensely too. There is such a high bar for indie authors and we quickly lose the reader’s trust if there are errors or incongruities in our stories. The editing process is so important in avoiding these errors. I don’t have any evidence to back this up, it’s only anecdotal, but it seems like the best self-published ebooks are of a higher quality now than 5-10 years ago. This has helped close the perception gap between indie authors and traditionally published others.
What’s your views on social media for marketing?
Dan: I guess I don’t see this question as something that should have a positive or negative viewpoint. It feels almost like a question asking whether email is an effective form of communication. Maybe 30 years ago it wasn’t, but it the current day and age, it is without question. I feel the same way about social media.
Any tips on what to do and what not to do?
Dan: Be generous. Be kind. Be honest. People work hard and authors should recognize that. You work hard to provide insightful commentary to your readers, Rakhi. I respect and appreciate that. I think when marketing their novels, authors tend to forget that and only want to see their book sell. They’ll do anything to make that happen, but it is just transparent to readers and they tend to shy away from purchasing the book.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Dan: Pieces Like Pottery. I wrote it. I worked very hard on it. I poured my heart and soul (not to mention hard earned money) into it. And I think it’s a pretty darn good book. I hope your readers agree.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Dan: 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 and I’d like to pass them along to anyone that explores (and struggles with) creative undertakings like writing. (Each of these is summarized in my own words.)
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.
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. You may have an excitement for your craft and a killer taste for what’s good, but your 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.
Louis C.K. is one of the most thoughtful and innovative comics alive right now. I once heard him speak about his HBO show, Lucky Louie, which was cancelled after one season in 2006. He was asked if he was disappointed 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 for young writers. 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.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Dan: Thank you, Rakhi! I have appreciated this opportunity to spend some time with you and your readers. I loved it! You have a wonderful site. I really do hope you and some of your readers will check out my book. I need the support of thoughtful and intelligent readers like yours. The life of an indie author is not easy and I appreciate all the support I can get. And if your readers have questions or comments, please contact me. I would love to hear from your fans and readers.
You can reach me via email at danburi777 [at] gmail [dot] com or on twitter @DanBuri777. Thanks!
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.
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.