“Hello Again,” Seth Fried’s winding story in the current issue functions as a brief history of many futures. We recently made the story available to read online, and asked Fried a few questions about writing and reading.
Tin House: What was the biggest obstacle in writing this story?
Seth Fried: In the first draft of this story I used the word “universe” about eighty times. After weeks of grueling revision I managed to get that number down to just over thirty.
TH: When you read this story in the future, what do you think you’ll associate with the period of writing it?
SF: In the future, my robot butler will read this story to me while I sit in a leather armchair in a penthouse apartment, sipping whiskey out of a large snifter and stroking the head of a luxurious white cat. I will sit in stunned silence, my own words reminding me of what a brilliant and uncompromising artist I once was. “That’s enough, Robo-Butler,” I will say, raising my hand for him to stop. Then a single tear will roll down my cheek and I will turn away from Robo-Butler, ashamed.
TH: Do you have any writing rituals?
SF: I actually think that ritual behavior can be damaging to the whole creative process. So before I write I like to chant “No rituals! No rituals!” while I swing a thurible in a circle over my computer and hop from foot to foot.
TH: What was the last sentence you underlined in a book?
SF: “She looked like a tomato struggling for self-expression.” -P.G. Wodehouse, from Right Ho, Jeeves
TH: What is the next story I should read?
SF: If you like what I tried to do here, then you’ll probably love any one of these:
“Priscilla” by Italo Calvino
“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” by Jorge Luis Borges
“The Tower” by Steven Millhauser
Seth Fried‘s stories have appeared in numerous publications. He is the winner of two Pushcart Prizes and the author of a short story collection, The Great Frustration.