1.What is your earliest memory of writing?
My earliest memory of writing is actually in elementary school and has nothing to do with something that I wrote. We had a writing assignment, it must have been fourth or fifth grade, and the assignment was centered on verbs and using as many descriptors as possible. Simple right? I cannot for the life of me remember
anything about what I wrote, but I do remember is another student’s piece. I remember my teacher reading his piece, and his use of descriptors and telling a story from the perspective of a fifth-grader was so incredibly deep and real. I felt what he wrote. I wanted to achieve that from that point on in whatever I wrote.
2.What inspires you?
Sometimes the sunrise, or the woodpecker outside my bedroom window, but mostly it is the feeling I get when I hear Mumford and Sons’ “Holland Road”. The feeling comes along at other times as well, but it is completely connected with my inner being and the computer when that song plays. It is unfortunate when I am driving down a windy road and that song comes on and nothing to take notes with. Some of my best ideas happen on the road or randomly during hot showers. Ultimately my inspiration comes from a deep sadness that on occasion turns to anger and needs an outlet. I have this unprotected, deeply wounded young child deep inside with the ability to set fire to the world. She is in desperate need of a protector and an outlet for her fury and rightful distrust of the world. She has been ignored for years and when tapped into she is inspired, graceful, charming, and pleasantly quick-witted. However, when she is ignored she is more unstable than an overheated nuclear reactor and does not know her own strength.
3.What do you think makes a good story?
I believe that a portion of truth makes for a good story. The things that grab my attention and keep it always have the element of a real-world application or real-world experience. Tell me your story and I will tell you mine.
4.What are some of your favorite books, tv shows, movies?
One of my all-time favorite books is Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods”, both the book and movie: “We Were Soldiers Once…and Young” by Hal Moore and Joseph Galloway, “How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir” by Saeed Jones, and “The Things They Cannot Say: Stories Soldiers Won’t Tell You About What They’ve Seen, Done or Failed to Do in War” by Kevin Sites. Favorite TV shows include, Law and Order SVU, Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19, Prodigal Son, and my wife is pointing out to me that my favorite TV show is football, specifically anything that has to do with the Steelers. Favorite movies include Wonder Woman (all of them), Black Panther, Courage Under Fire, Split, and The Silence of the Lambs.
5.What is your writing process like?
My writing process involves getting my Spotify out, putting on the music that speaks to my soul, and tapping into the beast that needs to speak. There initially is no rhyme or reason to the process, I just let it flow, and see what comes out of it. I feel that if there is something to be made of the piece or if the writing can or should be expanded then I will continue to work on it. If a piece is just to be
left in its raw form, then it will stay on my cloud and live its days out there.
6. What is the most surprising or interesting thing you have learned
I think that the most surprising thing I have learned from writing is that by giving my trauma a voice I have started the healing process. I am by no means healed nor close to whole, but without gaining this outlet, I am not exactly sure how worse off I would be.
7. Tell us about your experience with WGI. How did participating in a WGI
(Writers Guild Initiative) workshop help your writing, (if so)?
I signed up for a WGI experience at a time when I desperately needed an outlet, as I was drowning in invisibility. Since being injured in Iraq in 2007 and until my participation in my first workshop in 2012, I felt as though I was carrying an endless dark pit within me everywhere I went. I had no idea how to even describe myself, let alone what I was feeling inside. The exercises at the workshop helped
me find words to help describe simple, everyday things that I could then in turn start to describe more important things. I first learned to describe the important players in my life, and I learned to describe everything about them, and eventually, I learned that it was safe to describe myself. It was through that, that I started to
listen to the nuclear monster that lives inside me. I learned that if I don’t give her the space to share and be safe, her ability to go nuclear is in fact dangerous and potentially deadly for me.
8. How do you make time for writing?
It is not so much a matter of how to make time for writing as it is an obligation to myself and self-care to write. As I was stating before, I have this part of me, this past trauma that will either continue to traumatize me, or it will empower me to be better and do better and bring those that need it with me. Of course, there are times that I neglect my writing and I will go a month or so without picking up my
journal, laptop, or what have you. Then the longer I go without writing the larger the dark pit, or the angrier the monster gets. If I don’t let out the words that need to be said, I tend to find another way to take it out on myself.
9. Do you have a “writing quirk,” if so, what is it?
I do my best writing with my American Bulldog next to me, and the greatest stuff comes when she is snoring. Millie is the best side-kick a writer could have!
10. Any advice or tips you’d like to offer?
Just write things down, and keep writing. It does not have to make any sense at the beginning, just don’t be critical of anything. Find your comfortable place to sit and just type, write, scribble it down and don’t stop until your hand cramps. Worry about censoring or editing it on a totally different day!