Writing Shotgun is a collection of fiction and non-fiction short stories and poems: In a society obsessed with the anxiety- producing message that we should all be in the driver’s seat of our destiny in life — even when we really can’t — these six stories and four poems celebrate the adventure, the enlightenment and the wisdom that comes from being along for the ride.
So, climb aboard an overcrowded, barely seaworthy freighter bound for Zanzibar; meet a tiny home invader who arrives with a powerful message of love; discover how lutefisk can change your life, and more.
From an interview with Been Magazine, June, 2023:
Before we get started, I just want to say I really enjoyed your first book Crash Course, reading it is like watching a movie. Couldn’t put it down. But let's talk about your new book, congratulations on that, by the way, let's talk about Writing Shotgun. It's a very different book and I wonder if you could tell us where on the bookstore shelf people might find it.
Well, that's a really good question, and thank you for the kind words. The book is a collection of stories. Some of them are fiction. Some of them are nonfiction, and some are poems. So, where it goes on the bookstore shelf is problematic, because it doesn't really fall into the usual categories that you would find in a bookstore but it's the book I wanted to write, it's the stories I wanted to write, they came to me in different formats and so I wrote them that way. When I sit down to write a story, I'm not thinking about what category it fits into. What I'm thinking about is what I want to say about the people who are in the story.
Can you tell us a little bit about the title?
Writing Shotgun: Tales From The Passenger Seat. When I put these stories together, I wasn't really sure about what linked them. To me at first, they were very different. They took place in different times, different places and I didn't really see the connection. Until I read that great quote from the wonderful poet, Mary Oliver. In 'Sometimes,' that's the name of her poem, she says, "Instructions for living a life: pay attention, be astonished, and tell about it." I thought that's it. That's exactly what these stories are trying to do. They're trying to pay attention.
So, when I thought about how do you pay attention when your stories are in lots of different places. I thought about how kids always claim the shotgun seat when a car trip is going to happen and I thought, well, it's a privileged position and kids know that and it's the place where you can kind of sit back, you're not in the driver's seat, you can observe you can absorb and think about things and I just thought that's kind of how life goes. You're not always in the driver's seat. You get these short bursts and then for the most part, you're along for the ride. You're in the passenger seat and I can count the times in my life when I feel like I made a decision, a choice where I felt like I was driving the car, but the rest of the time, you're just dealing with the choices that you've made, and going along. So, I guess these stories are about that and are about paying attention.
Apart from the choices that we make, that we then have to live with or deal with, being along for that ride. It's true that people are often handed things they didn't ask for, that they didn't choose, and you have to cope with that. I certainly didn't ask to get cancer, and there have been other things that have happened that I wouldn't have asked for or chosen. You don't have a choice. It happens. And then you cope.
If I could ask you for one key word, perhaps, what this book means to you. Can you tell me what that keyword is?
Well, you won't find it in your key word choices. It's 'paying attention.'