Jonathan Dee

Literary Birthday – 19 May – Jonathan Dee

Happy Birthday, Jonathan Dee, born 19 May 1962.


  1. More than periods where I don’t write anything, I have periods where I just write junk and I know I’m writing junk but I can’t stop.
  2. Novels are a kind of experiment in selfhood, for the reader as well as for the author.
  3. The first draft of everything, I write longhand. One of the nice things about that is that it makes you keep going. If you write a bad sentence on the computer, then it’s very tempting to go back and fidget with it and spend another 20 minutes trying to make it into a good sentence.
  4. I seem to have a talent for writing endings that seem just right to me but that frustrate other people.
  5. When I read a book I liked, I would get a pen and one of my father’s legal pads and rewrite it from memory as if I had thought of it myself. It was a clear sign that I wanted to be involved in writing, even if it was just pretend at that point.
  6. I think that good storytelling of any kind does promote a humility in that it encourages you to see the world the way that other people see it.
  7. What could be more boring than a novel that tells you how to think about everything that happens in it?
  8. The first draft often is really fast, and I’d be terribly ashamed if anybody ever saw it.
  9. You never want to be in a position where your reader feels like you’re passing judgment on your own characters. Any novel where you feel like the author is talking to the reader over the characters’ heads is in a bad place.
  10. I wrote my first novel in the same conditions as most first novelists – I had a full-time job, I shared an apartment, I had no time – and so I became a compulsive outliner of everything.

Jonathan Dee is an American novelist and non-fiction writer. His fifth novel, The Privileges, was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Source for image

Larry D. Moore, CC BY 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 19th May 2018