Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Middle Stories (Saturday Night, 2001)

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Sheila Heti: Writer, Student, Aspiring Hairdresser

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"The title of my book is The Middle Stories. I had a whole bunch of other titles I was considering, but I was sitting in some college on campus waiting for class to start and just doodling the covers of books and I don't even know how the title came to me, but it was in my mind all of a sudden. And it was a big relief, because I'd thought of all these other titles that never felt quite right. But this title sounded right. I liked saying it. I liked the fact that it sounded a little encyclopedic and that it sounded utilitarian. And after that, that was the title and it just wasn't going to be anything else.

"People are really tense when they read. They're always worried about figuring things out and that stops them from figuring things out. I write in the simplest language possible, the sentences are simple, and there's nothing complex about my writing, but somebody still said to me, 'Maybe if I'd read your story a few more times, I would have understood it.' I don't think it enhances the experience of reading to assume there's more to the story than what you naturally feel when you read it. Really, it's all there on the surface.

"I'm not exactly supporting myself through my writing. I am partly, and that's good enough, but I'm always making lists of ways to make money. I want to work in a flower shop. I thought about being a kindergarten teacher. I want to be a hairdresser. But no one wants me to be their hairdresser, and you have to go to school for that. I don't know if I would write more, or more happily, if I could write all the time. It's more likely I'd nap all the time."

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