From the author
Notes on “Bullets Going Through Objects in Slow Motion”
A pair of pink and silver earrings and a pan of brownies. A dead furnace in the middle of January, a psychic’s prediction, and the day I walked in on my teenage son and his girlfriend making out. I collected the details in “Bullets…” in real time, as I was living them. One of my writing habits is to make a list of details from my day. I aim for between 30 and 50 and I write down both the mundane and the weird. I don’t always know which ones will end up in an essay, but then I don’t need to know. What’s important is writing them down. I want to have precise, exact, specific details available when I need them. Then when I’m getting ready to write, I’ll flip through my lists and a detail like Steven Seagal/Family Guy or website of cats with Hitler’s mustache will trigger a memory, a moment, an emotion.
I collected details in this way when I was living through the days and weeks and months that are described in “Bullets…” But I was too sad to do anything with them then, I was too caught up in the trying-to-get-through the experience to even begin the work of figuring out what-does-the-experience-mean. Even then I knew that part would take a long time, maybe years. There were a few writing days when I tried to tell this story before I understood anything about it, and on those days writing seemed harder, lonelier, and extra frustrating. It’s hard to write about the house that’s on fire while the house is on fire.
Notes on Reading
This is a partial list of books I love—books I am emotionally invested in, books that have shaped and informed and changed me—but I won’t teach them. I can’t. Because I used to, and what happened was I took it too personally when students complained about reading them, or when students said This book sucks, we don’t like this book, why are you making us read it? I’ve come to realize I can teach books I’m don’t like and books I think are okay, I can even teach books I like and admire. But I can’t teach books I love.
Originally published in Willow Springs 65
About Diana Joseph
Diana Joseph is the author of the short story collection Happy or Otherwise (Carnegie Mellon University Press 2003) and the memoir I’m Sorry You Feel That Way: the Astonishing But True Story of a Daughter, Sister, Slut, Wife, Mother and Friend to Man and Dog (Amy Einhorn/Putnam 2009).