“You don’t know what you need when you’re a young writer. You can get small slivers of critical input, advice, comments, but if you’re deep in the perplexity of your own process, as you should be, sorting it out in your own way, nothing is going to guide you more than small gestures of encouragement. At the time he was my teacher, [Denis] Johnson was still making the leap from writing poetry—pseudo-Beat lines, musical yet exact—to writing fiction. He was finding his own way, while we were finding ours. I didn’t know it then, but he was giving me—in our small interactions, in the strange dynamic of the class—an encouragement that would help, retroactively, as I read his work in the following years and began to discover my own voice as a writer.”
David Means

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