National Writing Project

Author's Corner: Nevada Teacher Finds Stories in the Squares of Time

Date: May 16, 2011

Summary: The Southern Nevada Writing Project's Dennis Goode discusses the inspiration for his 2009 novel, Time Squares, and shares the positive effect the Writing Project has had on his life as a teacher and author.

 

Novelist, poet, and author of collected short stories, Dennis Goode grew up in the New York City of Time Squares, where his compilation of characters mirror humanity in their lives and tales. He has taught creative writing to students and teachers of writing. As a teacher of writing, he's also learned from his students—and his fellow teachers at the Southern Nevada Writing Project.

NWP: What inspired you to write Time Squares?

Dennis Goode: I got a unique and fascinating perspective when I lived in an apartment building in New York City, where people saw and casually interacted with each other a thousand times over the years but rarely knew anything of substance about each other.

I wanted to tell about the relationships of friends coming from vastly different backgrounds and trying to find a purposeful future while attempting to make sense of a difficult and unsettling past—the faces we see and never know about and the lives and habits we at best only perceive. This is the experience of anyone who lives above and below others in these worlds of rectangles.

NWP: Describe your writing process—especially since you have to write and teach?

Goode: I keep journals and sketches of life as it presents itself in the everyday. Themes and symbols from short stories I have written present me with a challenge to weave them into a larger, coherent story. Sometimes what once appeared to be an insignificant writing prompt or notation becomes a central motivation or situation in a totally different story line. Believe me, there are many edits.

I shared my revisions with many at my Writing Project site for input.

NWP: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating this book?

Goode: Though I knew the framework of what I wanted to tell, I rewrote the beginning of the novel three times. Characters I thought would be central to the story faded into the background, and I also found small details of personalities that wanted to be elaborated and eventually became necessary to the progress of the plot and themes. As writers, we can almost guarantee a very different finale from our beginning ideas.

NWP: Does teaching others about writing inspire or challenge you about your own craft?

Goode: Absolutely. A response group within and outside of the summer institute experience added invaluable insights into what was obscure and what rang true. I shared my revisions with many at my Writing Project site for such input. There are three writers from my original response group at the summer institute thirteen years ago, and we still meet several times a year to help each other with ideas and revisions. This was essential to the completion of this novel.

NWP: Has your involvement with the Writing Project influenced your writing?

Goode: This is a very humbling question. I had published many pieces in anthologies, magazines, and newspapers over the years but stopped making time for the quiet moments needed to see what was still there underneath. Joining the work of the Southern Nevada Writing Project allowed me to surround myself with the possibilities of again picking up that pen. Does the Writing Project change lives? If you're reading this, you already know the answer.

For more, connect with Dennis on Facebook (search for Dennis Goode or DGNovels) or email him at DGNovels@aol.com.

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