Q&A With WriteByNight Co-founder David Duhr
WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr (New York, New York) is books, fiction and copy editor at the Texas Observer and contributes regularly to the Dallas Morning News, Publishing Perspectives, and other publications.
Where are you from?
Milwaukee. Which, as I learned from Alice Cooper in Wayne’s World, is Algonquin for “The good land.” It also means “I wish there were a tiny bit more culture here, and hey, how about some sunshine, and maybe the Brewers could win a World Series once in my lifetime?” in Potawatomi. I’ve also lived in Denver, Washington, D.C., Boston, Austin, a tiny town in Florida, and the large town in New York where I am now.
Where did you study?
The universities of Denver and Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Emerson College in Boston. But I learned much more about writing outside the classroom.
How did you get your start as a writer?
I wrote about 1,000 baseball stories as a youngster. They were very straightforward, as if I were writing the play-by-play for Bob Uecker. I’d be like, “And now Yount steps up to the plate. He takes a practice cut or two, then takes his stance. The pitch. It’s a ball! Ball one to Yount. The next pitch. A strike. The count is now one-and-one.” And so on, until usually the Brewers won on a grand slam in the bottom of the 9th. Hit by whom, you might wonder? Perhaps a fresh-faced rookie sensation named David Duhr? Nope. I was not part of these narratives. It was usually just a real Brewer. Robin Yount, Cecil Cooper, Paul Molitor. Sometimes a dark horse such as Ernie Riles.
Professionally, my first paycheck for writing came from either Gulf Coast or the Iowa Review (I really can’t remember — they came only days apart, which made me feel super cool). Which came after being paid in contributor copies for excellent magazines such as Pleiades. Which came after writing free book reviews for some online venues, just to test the waters. (They were chilly.)
What is your favorite thing about educating writers at WBN?
I love when a new writer realizes something on his/her own after we’ve worked on a particular issue for a while. I enjoy seeing that triumphant smile. I also enjoy when a writer and I get done talking nuts and bolts and can just sit back and talk about the act itself.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The act itself.
What is your favorite word, and why?
What’s the last movie you saw that was based on a book and how was it?
The 2011 remake of Jane Eyre. It was like watching a loved one die.
Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Help each other out. So many writers seem to view this profession as a grudge match, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I got my start because of friends who passed my name along to their friends. Like, “I know you’re looking for new writers; here’s a new writer.” Return the favor. Or pay it forward.