Literary Birthday – 14 April – Wells Tower

Happy Birthday, Wells Tower, born 14 April 1973.


  1. With fiction, there’s no reason why everything you write shouldn’t be amazing. Nobody’s stopping you from making up better stuff.
  2. Being a human being isn’t just all misery and despair. There’s a lot of available joy out there, even if we don’t often find it. I think that fiction should find opportunities for joy.
  3. It’s a good lesson for writing a short story: it’s best to really start small. I think the best stories start from something tiny.
  4. The internet is a fucking curse! To write good fiction, you have to get into a tiny space that’s infinitely deep. That thing [the Internet] is so vast, yet has only a centimetre of depth. I actually have two desks; one with internet for magazine work, and a desk just for writing that’s completely offline.
  5. I can never coldly write a story; it doesn’t work. I’ve tried it where I have an outline, and I’ll think this is going to be so easy, but when I sit down of course it’s not. You have to get into a state of autohypnosis and let the story be what it wants to be. That takes time.
  6. Human beings have a tendency towards hypocrisy. People behave badly.
  7. I think what people really want is fiction that in some tiny way makes their life more meaningful and makes the world seem like a richer place. The world is awfully short on joy and richness, and I think to some extent it’s the fiction writer’s job to salvage some of that and to give it to us in ways that we can believe in.

Wells Tower is an American writer of short stories and non-fiction. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, The Washington Post Magazine, and elsewhere. He received two Pushcart Prizes and the Plimpton Prize from The Paris Review. He is the author of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned: Stories.

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 14th April 2015