Misha Burnett on Small Worlds [Part 3]

What was your writing process like for this collection of stories?

Scattershot. I moved a lot during the writing of these stories and I learned just how much having a stable place to write meant to me. For several months I was living on the road and staying in a different motel every night. Then there was a while when I lived in a rented RV in a remote part of Texas with spotty WiFi access.

I learned that routine is something that I didn’t realize I needed until I didn’t have it.

My process is immersive—one might almost call it dissociative. I need to get lost in my stories. My work is very detail oriented. I have to be able to imagine the settings and characters and events photorealistically. Fortunately for my readers most of those touches don’t make it into the story, but I need to know them.

I see a short story as a glimpse out of a window into another world. The reader only sees what is framed in the window, but in order to show that I need to know the entire landscape. I like to think that’s what makes my stories feel real to my readers. There is a sense of a whole world existing outside the bounds of the story because there is a whole world out there. I just don’t tell you about the parts that aren’t relevant to the story.

This approach requires a lot of daydreaming and staring off into space visualizing things that never get written down. And that, in turn, requires a safe place for me to go wandering off into the ether from. It’s tough to get that when your address is “the next Best Western”.

It’s also tough to do when worries and concerns about work intrude. An exciting life gives a writer a lot of material to use in his stories, but a dull and predictable life is important to putting it all down on paper.

So if anybody out there wants more stories for me, pray for more boredom in my life. I need it to work.

Misha Burnett’s Small Worlds is available for pre-order now on Kickstarter.


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