How I Wrote It

What Daniel Karasik learned from editing his younger self

The author of Faithful and Other Stories discusses how his first book came together.
Daniel Karasik won the 2012 CBC Short Story Prize for Mine, which is included in his debut short story collection. (Kirah Hahn)

Daniel Karasik is a Toronto-based writer, playwright and theatre artist. He won the 2012 CBC Short Story Prize for his story Mine, and his plays have been performed on stages in Canada, the U.S. and Germany. His debut short story collection, Faithful and Other Stories, brings together some of the author's older work and follows complex characters as they search for meaning and connection in a mystifying world. 

In his own words, Daniel Karasik explains how he wrote Faithful and Other Stories.

If you're interested in the CBC Literary Prizes, the CBC Nonfiction Prize is now open for submissions. You could win $6,000 from Canada Council for the Arts, a 10-day writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and have your work published on CBC Books.

Alienation as inspiration

"I think alienation is the fundamental human problem. I'm interested in how it's both a political creature — the product of broken social relations that could be otherwise and should be fixed — and also an experience to which political answers are always somehow asymptotic, almost adequate but never quite. I find the experience of alienation to be an inflection point between the political and the spiritual."

Grow with your work

"I didn't conceive it as a book until pretty late. I knew I'd written a lot of stories, but I wasn't sure I had enough strong ones for a book. I realized there were some stylistic and thematic continuities, and that together they could comprise a suite. There was never any conscious attempt to make the stories in the book speak to each other, though in certain ways inevitably they do.

"I wasn't very old when I began writing much of this work. The story in Faithful that won the CBC Short Story Prize, Mine, was recognized when I was 25, but I'd written its first drafts six years earlier, when I was 19. But I couldn't have revised it effectively then.

"It was tricky to revise the stories so long after the moments that sparked their first drafts. I felt like I was editing someone else — a younger brother. But part of me felt like he knew more and had better instincts than I did. A lot of later written work was more 'sophisticated,' but lacked emotional immediacy."

Author versus playwright

"I write a lot of dialogue and I skimp on exposition. I'd say both of those habits come from writing for performance. I think forms aren't just aesthetic propositions but also associated with particular classes and ideological systems — that is, I think the artist's choice of form is political — and right now I'm struggling to understand what I want art to do and what I think it's capable of doing, and for whom. But back when I was switching quickly between writing plays and fiction, that movement was mostly arbitrary since my thinking about form wasn't particularly conscious, since my politics weren't."

Daniel Karasik's comments have been edited and condensed.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.