Thomas Pierce taught fiction at the Workshop in 2012.
I live in Charlottesville. My wife and I moved here from DC, where I worked for a number of years as a producer at NPR. We came here for a change of pace, and thankfully I wound up in the MFA program at UVA. We stuck around after the program ended because we like it here. We would need a good reason to leave.
I’m a writer now. I work from home–on the screen porch when it’s warm and when it’s cold, at a desk under the stairs. Sometimes I go to a cafe, but I do my best work in the house.
I have a gigantic, messy, always expanding pile of books by the bed. I have to tiptoe across them every night. I’ve just reread True Grit by Charles Portis for the second or third time. I’ve read Norwood half a dozen times. Portis is a hero of mine. His ear for dialogue is impeccable. He reminds me that I can keep it simple, that my first responsibility is to tell a good story. Currently I’m reading The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker and Kobo Abe’s Woman in the Dunes.
I wrapped up revisions on a short story collection over the summer–called Hall of Small Mammals, it will be out in the world in January–and now I’m throwing all my energy at finishing a novel I’ve been shoving around for the last year.
One day you will write something and you will be sure it is the most glorious piece of writing in the history of literature. And then the next morning you will read it over and decide it is, in fact, total trash. But of course, really, it’s probably somewhere in between. Try not to be at the mercy of your own ever-changing opinions, which are far too dependent on external factors (e.g., sleep, exercise, romantic life, coffee consumption) to be trusted. Just keep going. Power through the ups and downs.