Strangling Yourself While Trying To Sing

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Over at Maud Newton’s website—a letter, to you, on old family letters. Dusty old leaves from the early 1900s, excavated from here or there. Grandpa’s love triangle. An apology from the sanitarium in which Aunt Louise died.

There’s magic in letters. Ah—but where?

In a letter I wrote last year for The Rumpus’ Letters in the Mail I mentioned that for a long time my approach to writing fiction was a little bit like strangling myself while trying to sing.

I finished writing the letter as I was beginning my essay that’s just out in Harper’s, and a lot of what I said about spontaneity, authenticity, and excitement in writing stayed on my mind during the many, many months I was holed up in my apartment working on the piece.


Casey Dayan is a Rumpus intern and musician. He is finishing up his undergraduate studies in literature and anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz where he is working on a memoir and trying to one-up Jeff Buckley. Find his twitter here, @caseydayan. Find his band, “Moo,” here. More from this author →