Dan and I met through Twitter and have had some interesting exchanges. His book is a self help book for authors.
Having spent time at #1 on multiple bestseller lists, Dan Buri’s first collection of short fiction, Pieces Like Pottery, is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption. His second book, 40 Tips on Creative Writing, has been recognized as trusted resource for new and seasons authors. His writing is uniquely heartfelt.
Dan’s non-fiction works have been distributed online and in print, including publications in Pundit Press, Tree, Summit Avenue Review, American Discovery, Oregon State Bar, 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.
Dan 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 from 2011–2018. He lives in Oregon with his wife, five-year-old daughter, and two-year-old son.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a lover or reading and writing. When I was young, my parents mandated “reading time” from noon-1pm every day in the summer. Growing up with four rambunctious brothers and a lovely sister who all enjoyed sports, I’m sure you can imagine how difficult it was for us to come inside from our follies in the summer weather. While some of “reading time” was simply to give my mother a little peace and quiet for an hour, it instilled in all of us a lifelong love of reading. I recall some amazing summer afternoons with a book. I’ve loved to read ever since.
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I can remember writing as far back as middle school. It’s something I have always enjoyed doing. One of the first poems I ever wrote was about my older brother and his basketball playing abilities. I still remember the opening lines and I wrote them nearly 30-years ago as a little kid:
I’m Joe the King of Basketball,
I’m the king of the basketball court.
All my shots are always on target,
None of them are ever short.
I didn’t say it was any good!
Writing has been something I have always enjoyed doing and something I have always admired in other people. Story telling is a beautiful gift. I love learning to hone the craft.
What genres do you like to read? Are these the same genres you write in?
I can feel the boos coming before I even answer this question, but I can honestly say I don’t have a favorite genre. I know, I know, lame answer. I don’t think I even know all the ins-and-outs of all the nuanced genres. Call it ignorance or call it naiveté, but frankly, I think a lot of genre categorization is simply for marketing and sales, so most labeling of books is misaligned anyway.
More than genres, I look for recommendations to help me decide what I should read. I keep a list on my phone of all the books that have been recommended to me from people I trust. I am lucky enough to live blocks from the world’s largest used bookstore—Powell’s City of Books. I just pull out my phone every time I go there and grab a couple selections off of my recommended list. I think more than anything else, the number one factor for selecting a book is if it came highly recommended from a trusted source.
Is your book for adults, young adults or children?
I’d say “40 Tips on Creative Writing” is for any age. It’s fully of inspirational writing tips that could help a writer at any age. I’ve even had non-writers reach out telling me they loved it and were going to implement some of the tips in their day-to-day lives.
“Pieces Like Pottery” was written intended for adult readers, but I had a 12-year-girl reach out to me on twitter just the other day and say she loved the book. She said it moved her to tears.
What is your current release or project?
In addition to my two published works, I am in the finishing stages of my yet-to-be-titled novel. I currently have the notes from my editor in my inbox. (I’m stalling so I don’t have to look at them!) It is a story of a young man traveling across the country to visit his dying teacher who was his father-figure. In is journey, he reflects on the abuse he faced in his life and his struggles to become a professional musician. It is touching and uplifting if I can say so myself!
“40 Tips on Creative Writing” is my latest published work and has received wonderful reviews and feedback. Here’s a short excerpt:
Life is too short not to seize the opportunities presented to us. Always take the chance to do what you love when it comes along.
Do you lie awake dreaming of writing a book? Have you written a book before and now you’re thinking about writing your next one? Do interesting stories pop into your head throughout the day? Do you see events play out before you on the street and immediately think it might make a good story? Do you find yourself thinking about writing, but don’t actually sit down to do it?
Start writing. You only need thirty minutes a day. Life’s too short to not write if that’s what you love to do. That first step is simple: Sit down and write.
I vividly remember when I first started to consider writing as more than a hobby fifteen years ago. Before then, I had an unfortunate mantra: “I’ll write when…” As in, “I’ll write that story when I have a long uninterrupted weekend.” Or, “I’ll write that book when my job isn’t so busy.” It was a mantra that was crushing any hope of taking my dreams of being a writer and actually becoming serious about writing. I realized there was never going to be a perfect time to write, so I threw that mantra out the window for good.
If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have found myself writing for a number of print and online publications. I would have never started four different blogs over the last fifteen years, something that has been critical for me in learning how to hone my skills as a writer. I would have never become a published non-fiction writer and the author of an Amazon bestselling book of literary fiction. Now I have a new mantra: “I’ll write now.”
Whether you’re writing your first book or your tenth, sit down today and write. Block off thirty minutes today.
What advice would you give a beginner?
There is always room to love more. This is a great motto to live by. Your friends and family, and even strangers you meet on the street, will appreciate the love. However, I want you to implement this into two aspects of your writing.
First, always remember what initially inspired you to start writing. What motivated you to pick up the proverbial pen and put words down on paper? Maybe there were visions of grandeur and fame, but there are plenty of ways to chase that without sweating over a book, essay or poem. Our culture seems to always be looking for the next new reality star; you can probably chase fame easier that way, than by writing.
More than likely, you didn’t start writing for the purpose of a foolish get-rich-quick scheme. You had a passion for it. You had a story bubbling up inside you that could no longer be contained. You had a love for writing. Always go back to that love. Especially on the days when you’re scrambling for the motivation to sit down and do it. Always remember to love the process, then dip your pen into the ink of your love of writing.
Second, if you are writing a story where you are developing characters, apply this tip to each character you want to bring to life. Love your characters more. I mean literally. Have passion for them. Have hopes, dreams, fears, hate, anger, jealousy, excitement, and compassion. Love your characters as if they are your family and friends. It will come through in your writing. Your readers will feel it when you have passion for your characters. Love them more each time you write about them. It will come through on the page.
If you’re sitting there thinking that your writing doesn’t have characters because you’re not writing fiction, think again. All writing has characters that need to be loved. If you’re writing a memoir, you need to learn to love the younger self you’re writing about. If you’re writing an essay or article about the state of the world, love the people affected, love the state or country impacted, love the planet that needs changing. If you’re writing a self-help book, focus on each person you’re writing the book for and lean in and love them.
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 two comments that have stuck with me throughout all my writing endeavors.
- 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. We may have an excitement for our craft and a killer taste for what’s good, but our 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 a while, but that’s normal. Good writing doesn’t come the first time you sit down.
So those would be my two pieces of advice. 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.
Thank you, Eileen! I am grateful for this opportunity to spend some time with you and your readers. You have a wonderful site! I can’t wait to hear what you and your readers think about “40 Tips” and “Pieces Like Pottery.” Thanks!
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Goodreads: Dan Buri