Many years ago, long before these weekly blogs that I obsessively churn out like so much spoiled butter, I thought I wanted to be Stephen King.

The big glasses, the oddly shaped face, and the flowing mullet weren’t what drew me in. Yes, I ate up his books as a middle schooler, but it wasn’t even what he wrote about. It was the idea that a person sat at a desk somewhere, dreamed up stories, and that was how they made a living. That’s what they did.

Sign me up.

I’ve been something of a reader all along. My parents reading to me at bedtime. Hiding from the dysfunction of my family in Narnia. Growing into an English major that, at different times in his life, may or may not have tried to resemble Oscar Wilde. And now I’m here. A humble Associate Professor of English Education at THEEEEE University of Iowa. Go Hawks.

Words are still very much a part of my life. No, I don’t make a living, as I imagined Stephen King did, by sitting in a quiet room dreaming up wild stories, but geez I write a lot.

Write a lot of books, too.


Last week I submitted a proposal for another academic book I wrote with my friend Erin. I’m helping co-edit a different scholarly book with my friends Pauli and Justin. I’ve got a wild science fiction novel I’ve been shopping for a year and may just end up self-publishing. And then I’ve got this wild book about improv and the Gospel I’m ready to put into the world. And don’t get me started on the satirical book about academia I’m working on with my friend Ben.

That’s five books I’ve got going, people. That’s a lot of books.

Now, if I were more of an economist, I might spend some time reading the market. Reading the room. I’ve put four books out into the world. These works have not been what an economist might describe as profitable. Which doesn’t mean people haven’t read them. I know that some have. But I am not ready to retire to a farmhouse in Maine, purchase oversized 1980’s glasses, and devote my life to dreaming up horror novels. Still, there is something satisfying about putting a finished project out into the world. Sharing a book. This is true even when I know the books could have been written better. Edited better. Organized better. I’ll get ’em next time. Each piece of writing leads into the next. Many miles to go before I sleep and all that. Many words left to play with. That’s how I feel anyway, regardless of the genre.

And I can’t seem to keep my genres straight. Academic monographs. Sci-fi. Amateur theology. Memoir. I’m all over the place, baby. This is not a lucrative way to go about putting books into the world.

But I’ve never been about chasing money to chase money. I do what I can with what’s in my soul so that my soul stays alive. So that my soul keeps growing. And writing, so far as I can tell, is connected to that aliveness. At least it is for me.


I’ll keep doing what I muddily-must until I buddily-bust. That’s a line of poetry from one of my heroes Kurt Vonnegut. It seems, for whatever reason, part of what I muddily-must do is to keep hurling words onto pages. And this leads to all sorts of things, including books.

Maybe someday I’ll write something that lots of people spend lots of money on. That would be fine. Retire to a farmhouse in Maine. Move to Bangor. Live out my 1980’s childhood fantasy of dreaming up wild stories all day. Or maybe I won’t.

I’ve found, as I’m sure many of you have, that things rarely work out they way you first imagine them. Which doesn’t mean you have to give up on the things you imagine. It just means you improvise, keep going, and see what comes. I haven’t written It, or The Stand, or whatever. But I’ve put words into the world that I stand behind. So that’s something.

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