Daniel Torday’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Esquire Magazine, Glimmer Train, Harper Perennial’s Fifty-Two Stories, Harvard Review and The Kenyon Review. He currently serves as Director of Creative Writing at Bryn Mawr College.
An excerpt from his novella The Sensualist appears in Issue Thirty-Two of The Collagist.
Here, Daniel Torday graciously answers questions "in-the-form-of-excerpts"--with further excerpts from The Sensualist. Enjoy!
1. What is writing like?
A pickaxe to the icy river that has frozen between us. I have to tell you something, and it’s not easy. It’s just before dark. Everything has become grainy enough you can’t quite make out even the chair across the room in its entirety—the lines and details have grown imprecise enough it is as if the present moment has already faded into memory.
2. What isn’t writing like?
I sat around thinking, “This is not what I mean.” I had just one thought in my head. The room went silent. I felt the muscles in my back tighten. There was no sense of relief. There was a prickly feeling all over my skin and face. I’m not sure if I knew Dmitri at all, the way he spoke, the way he looked at you and hid nothing. Act, don’t act—we did not think of the consequences.
3. When you do it, why?
Mostly I listen, and I have to tell something. It’s not easy. The feeling I’m trying to convey, it’s a feeling not unlike saying a word familiar to you over and over again like an incantation—Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri, Dmitri—so many times it loses its meaning, and gains a new one.
4. When you don’t, why?
I could not lie. I looked around to see if anyone was watching. I didn’t say anything. I pulled out the phone book. I thumbed through it. I don’t know how much of any of this I should be saying. The pain in my wrist got too bad for me to handle. I wait and wait, but nothing. It was kind of boring. Nothing worse than boring violence. I’m sorry.