Dantiel W. Moniz on Endings as Windows Rather than Exits
In Conversation with Courtney Balestier on the WMFA Podcast
Writing can be lonely work; WMFA counters that with conversation. It’s a show about creativity and craft, where writer and host Courtney Balestier talks shop with some of today’s best writers and examines the issues we face when we do creative work. The mission of WMFA is to explore why we writers do what we do, so that we can do it with more intention, and how we do what we do, so that we can do it better.
In this episode, Courtney Balestier talks to Dantiel W. Moniz, author of Milk Blood Heat, about not protecting your characters, the inextricableness of place and identity, and deciding to take your writing seriously.
From the episode:
Dantiel W. Moniz: I used to use that exact phrasing—write the moment after which nothing could be the same; that’s what you’re leading up to. That’s what I would tell my students. I think why I love the short form so much is the same reason a lot of people hate the short form—where they’re like, I felt like I was just getting into this character’s world and getting attached to them and now it’s over. But I feel like a good short story writer will leave you enough in the text to understand where this character’s life goes off the page. That’s what I’m always trying to do. This question came up recently and I put it like, I see endings as more windows into the next thing rather than as pure exits. If I’ve done my job correctly, you can understand what the next choice for that character would be.
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Dantiel W. Moniz is the recipient of the Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction, the Cecelia Joyce Johnson Emerging Writer Award by the Key West Literary Seminar, and a Tin House Scholarship. Her debut collection, Milk Blood Heat, is an Indie Next Pick, an Amazon “Best Book of the Month” selection, a Roxane Gay Audacious Book Club pick, as well as a Belletrist Book Club pick, and has been hailed as “must-read” by TIME, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, Elle, and O, The Oprah Magazine, among others. Her work has appeared in the Paris Review, Harper’s Bazaar,Tin House, One Story, American Short Fiction, Ploughshares, The Yale Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and elsewhere. She lives in Northeast Florida and currently teaches fiction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.