Major(s), Minor(s): English (College of Wooster); English Literature (Iowa State University); Composition & Rhetoric (University of Massachusetts-Amherst)
1. What type of writing do you usually produce for your major(s)?
Nowadays I write mostly academic articles or administrative types of documents: year-end reports, budget requests, letters of recommendation. I collaborated with Adam Parker on an article about writing in math courses, “By the Numbers,” and I’m currently working with Sunny Jeong on a piece about Amish business practices and with Brian Yontz on one about audio responses to student writing. I’ve also put out articles for Writing Lab Newsletter and the Writing Center Journal. (To see some of these essays, click here.)
2. What sort of writing do you do outside of class?
A little bit of everything.
3. What piece of writing are you most proud of?
Probably my junior independent study at Wooster, when I analyzed John Barth’s short story “Lost in the Funhouse” through the lens of David Bartholomae’s article “Inventing the University.” I tried to play around with language in the same way that Barth does, and it was a lot of fun to try and construct my own critical funhouse.
4. Where is your favorite place to write? Why?
At home, in my den, usually in the early morning hours, before anyone is up and when the coffee has just finished brewing.
5. What quirky routines do you follow when writing or when you are preparing to write?
Though I don’t often write to music, I occasionally turn on some harder rock to get started on an argument (sometimes I need to imagine that other people are idiots so that I can begin to counter and criticize their arguments). AC/DC’s Back in Black album works very well for this. I also talk to myself, but that’s another story.
6. Who is your favorite writer? Why?
Which day is it? My favorite writer depends a lot on what I’m reading at the time. I like mysteries from Rex Stout and John Sandford; I like pop psychology books from Malcolm Gladwell; I like sports commentary from Bill Simmons; I like short stories from George Saunders; I like graphic novels from Alan Moore. Most every writer has something to share, something that you can learn, laugh, or think from. If I had to choose just one author to read for the rest of my life . . . nah, can’t decide.
7. What was the best writing experience of your life?
Other than this form?
8. What would you most like to improve about your writing?
I wish my prose was smoother a lot of the time. I wish I could more easily structure an argument so that it flows without seeming to exert any effort.
9. What advice do you have for other writers at Wittenberg?
Practice. Practice. Practice. It’s not the quick, easy response that everyone hopes for, but nothing much has been gained through shortcuts. Writing takes time: time to think, time to draft, time to receive feedback, time to revise. The thing is, though, that you get better at it. There is always something about a paper that can improve, yes, but it’s also possible to say that something improves each time you revise.