Interview with William Conescu
By Cicily Janus
Being Written is a hilariously off-beat and at times thrilling read in which the main
character has to ﬁgure out how to stay in the book as a character. I had the chance to
catch up with William Conescu via phone to ﬁnd out how he stays in the story of his
newly successful life.
CJ: Where is your creative space? Your process?
WC: I like to go for walks. When I’m working on a novel, such as being written, I’ll
outline the book. I’m not necessarily committed to the outline though. I’ll take a thirty
thousand foot look at it and then I come down to earth and write the scenes out. They
might be in order, they might not. I like to let a scene play out in my head ﬁrst and then
here’s when that walk comes in handy. I can think through those scenes then, or I’ll lie
in bed with my cat and think through the problems of the scene. Many scenes are
problems and there are challenges that eventually come. I’ll take a pencil to the scene
and then I’ll share it with my writer’s group. Being Written began when I was in Grad.
school. I had feedback from my professors and the workshops I attended. Many
people read parts of it.
CJ: Where did you go to school?
WC: North Carolina State University for my master’s degree and University of North
Carolina, Chapel Hill for my undergraduate degree.
CJ: What inﬂuenced you or pushed you to write this book?
WC: One of the things inﬂuencing me was the fact that I’m getting a little older. It’s
possible to not write. I had to realize that writing is a choice and so is not writing. I
wrote a lot in high school and in my early 20’s. After I got to a job in this city, I didn’t
write and I was going against myself. I always saw myself as a writer and not doing that was hard. Part of what you see in Being Written is this same struggle. Struggling with decisions on what to do in your 20's etc. I realized that what I needed to do is to commit to this and reorganize my life around it. My writer’s group is just a continuation of the MFA school. Some of the people who graduated with me wanted to keep having deadlines and giving and receiving. Symbolically this novel represents that commitment and reorganization. I had to continue to write. I had fantastic teachers, but, the biggest lesson for me was that it is possible to let the years pass and allow this to not happen. You have to make time for it and make it a priority.
CJ: What do you do at the job you just mentioned?
WC: I work at Duke University as a writer in fundraising communications. I write up
fundraising publications for scholarships and grant-proposal writing for them.
CJ: Where did your favorite moments of the novel play out?
WC: There were a couple of them. The ending always felt right to me. I think endings
are hard, but this one was just right. There were also a couple of big changes in the
writing process. I switched Daniel’s POV to the second person when it was originally in
third. And he could see some form of himself, but the problem was that Daniel needed
to be a character that was less worthy of “being written,” and the original MS didn’t
convey that. I had to tell myself that I was obviously not capturing the predicament he’s
in and the universe around him. As soon as I took it to second person I thought, this is
exciting. It felt so easy to write for him in this way. This allowed me to show his
neurotic and manic perceptions of what it feels like to be written. He was my biggest
“ah-ha” moment of the book.
CJ: What part of the writing process do you look forward to most?
WC: I knew the book would work itself out somehow. I’m just someone who’s very
happy to create and rewrite and revise. I get more nervous when I have to shape and
get the story done. But once the ﬁnished draft is completed, I can go forward and ﬁnish
it later. At this stage I already know from A to Z where everything is and what I need to
play with and what I have to deal with as far as changes are concerned. I was ever
tortured about writing this, it all happened very quickly for me.
CJ: How would you describe your writing style?
WC: I’m playful with form. I’m not a ﬂorid writer and you won’t ever see three pages of
descriptions on a beautiful river. Psychologically, I’m very interested in the way people
think and feel more than the landscape or history of them, but not to the exclusion of.
CJ: You hear about some publishers ruining books with the covers they choose etc. and not letting the writer have any say at all. Your cover is great, fun and gives the book a good shot, tell us about it.
WC: As I worked with designers in my job on a daily basis, I knew when it came time to
do the cover of the book I wanted to be a part of it. Of course the publishers have the
ﬁnal say but I think I was able to communicate what I thought was a good idea for it in
order to allow the designer to come up with some neat choices.
CJ: Who are you reading right now?
WC: I’m a slow reader and probably a little more slow in a writing intensive period. I’m
someone who tends to read the classics more. i.e. Thorton, Nabokov etc. When I
went to Grad school, I was strongly encouraged to be more of a contemporary writer
and read more of the range of contemporary authors, the ones who I would be writing
with. The generation of which I’m a part of. As for what I’m reading, at the moment I’m reading a Daniel Wallace book titled Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician. I also enjoyed Josh Ferris’s book Then We Came to the End. He makes this book really interesting using the ﬁrst person plural.
CJ: Knowing what you know now and what you’ve learned throughout your career, if
you could go back to when you started on this track and give yourself one piece of
advice what would that have been?
WC: I would have gone back to the 18-20 year old me and said that I was going to have to have a job. As much as you know you want to write ﬁction, the next thing you have to know is how to be realistic. You’re going to have to think about how you’re going to ﬁt it in your life and have discipline at the same time. Balance. I thought I was a focused person and seemed like I really knew what I wanted to do. It never occurred to me that I had to think really hard about what I had to do after I graduated.
CJ: What is in your future?
WC: I want to continue to publish books. I might be teaching, and I’ve certainly thought
about teaching creative writing workshops. If the right opportunity came along I could
totally see myself being a creative writing teacher.
CJ: What do you hope for readers to get out of your writing?
WC: I want my writing to be something fun and entertaining as an experience. I’m
looking for something that’s going to be more than successful. It has to be pleasurable
and not just intellectually stimulating. After all, that’s what I like to read.
Thank you to William for his time and for lending us his experiences and journey as a
writer. You can get your copy of Being Written at most book stores and on
Amazon.com. You can also follow William through his writing life at
CICILY JANUS began her life as a writer but somewhere in the middle she got lost as a musician then played around as a nurse. Having found her way back to her original plot, she mostly writes about music, other writers and the invisible people residing in her head. Cicily has been published in a lot of really cool places and her rat, Emma is her biggest fan. She lives near the Rocky Mountains and often wonders if the constant lack of oxygen is the reason why her poetry no longer rhymes. In her spare time, she runs a writers retreat as well as a looney-bin. The writers retreat is still taking applicants but the looney bin is full until further notice. You may visit her websites for further details: www.cicilyjanus.net or www.writingawayretreats.com.