My Story

I failed creative writing... twice...

By the time I was a senior in undergrad, I was working full-time while I finished off my degree. I was sure my future included making untold amounts of money. Why would I need to know how East of Eden applied to my life? I was wrong, and it took some real living to understand the redemptive power of storytelling, not just on the reader, but on the teller as well.

In my mid-twenties, I was fired from a job at an advertising agency in Denver. I totally deserved it, but the result set off years of heartache, ending with me in terrible mental health, broke enough to not know how we’d eat, and my marriage ready to collapse. I was at the end of my ability to cope with life.

But, throughout that summer, I had been reading Les Miserables. There is a scene in the book and movie where a saintly priest shows Jean Valjean incredible grace. Val Jean is forced to make a decision in his life. He can either choose to stay in self-pity and misery, or he can remake his life with a new set of values and beliefs. Faced with literally the decision of his lifetime, Val Jean decides to accept grace and step into a new life. It is one of the single most powerful scenes I’ve ever read.

It was in my brother-in-law’s basement (the second basement we lived in with a year) where I asked myself, “If Valjean decided to remake his life, why can’t I?” At that point, I had been writing short stories for about a year. If I could write a character however I wanted, and they were real to me, why couldn’t I write myself however I wanted?

If Valjean decided to remake his life, why couldn't I?

Like Valjean, I accepted grace, and I also firmly planted the power of storytelling in my life. I used Valjean’s example and my imaginative powers to become the person I felt I was. Storytelling saved my life.

As a writer, you know the road isn’t always straight or easy, or even fun. I’ve spent ten years working on my writing craft, both by constant practice and study, as well as by earning my Master of Fine Arts from New York University. Along the way, I’ve learned how to write in the early morning and how to balance being a new father with an insatiable need to write. I’ve given up drinking alcohol, eating sugar, and watching TV. I’ve built systems to track my progress and make sure I am bringing my entire self to the desk each morning.

 

What I’ve found is that a lot of people know how to write but not as many know how to keep writing. Finding the motivation to write can become difficult when you’ve got the whole world stacked against you: from dirty dishes in the sink through deadlines at work to children who need to eat. And yet, it is so central to understanding life. I, like thousands of other writers, have asked myself the questions: when to find time to write? How to start?  Am I good enough? What will people think of me? What to even write?

A lot of People Know How to Write. Not as many know how to keep writing.

 I created How Writers Write to serve those who ask themselves the same questions. I believe in storytelling. I love it. There is no feeling like writing the one good sentence that describes up an entire part of my soul. My hope is storytelling can impact you as much as it has impacted me.

Ten facts about me

  1. I love love love my wife Jennifer and two daughters, Violet and Emmeline. 

  2. On any given Friday, you can find me rock wall climbing at Brooklyn Boulders in Gowanus. 

  3. I have a secret love of nerdy strategy video games. They are my guilty pleasure. 

  4. I believe I lived a previous life as a centurion in ancient Rome. I’m not kidding.

  5. I received my MFA from NYU in 2017. It was an incredible experience, where I directly worked with Aleksandar Hemon, Geoff Dyer, Katie Kitamura, and Hari Kunzru.

  6. I love to run, lift weights, be outside. Anything active. 

  7. I am a type INFJ in Myer’s Briggs and an Enneagram type 8 w 9. 

  8. I am slated to complete my personal coaching training with the Co-Active Training Institute in February of 2020. 

  9. I believe New York is the greatest city on the planet. 

  10. I absolutely hate getting my picture taken. Hate it. 

My Experience and qualifications

How Writers Write is the union of my 12+ years of business experience and my passion for writing.

Business experience

I entered the corporate world after graduating in 2007 from Olivet Nazarene University. I worked full-time through college, selling everything from wedding rings to treadmills. When I graduated college with a lifetime of debt, I landed in sales job at a start-up.

Over the past twelve years, I’ve learned so much in my business career. I’ve learned how to build goals and action plans to achieve them. I’ve learned how important it is to have a process. I’ve built, managed, and coached high-performing teams at Fortune-100 companies with quotas in the tens of millions.

As of late 2019, I’m launching How Writers Write while still going to my day job in corporate America!

 

Learning to write

I failed Creative Writing twice in undergrad. I wish I was kidding. I didn’t realize the power of words until I reached an impasse. I didn’t have the tools to manage my life. Stuck in a job I didn’t love, in a marriage I didn’t understand, I found writing as a cathartic expression of my heart. I was hooked.

Even though I was the child “storyteller,” I didn’t find my love for writing until I was in my mid-twenties. I didn’t know a thing about what it took to write a book, or even how to really read a book.

I’ve spent the past eight years teaching myself how to write through the daily discipline of showing up each morning to compose, reading every book I could get my hands on, and eventually attending NYU’s MFA program from 2016-2018 where I studied under Aleksander Hemon, Geoff Dyer, Katie Kitamura, and Hari Kunzru.

 

PUTTING THE TWO TOGETHER

Scott Adams (author of the Dilbert comics), wrote a wonderful blog post on combining the places where you are in the top 25% of talent to build a unique position in life. For me, it is the combination of my writing life, and the process and discipline I’ve learned from my business life. I use this union to help writers build their internal scaffolding so that they can build their writing practice.  

I believe everyone has a story to tell, but all too often writers give up because it is too hard to keep writing through disappointment and the overall pain of writing. I’m here to serve those writers, to empower them to tell their story.

 

SNAPSHOT

  • Graduated from Olivet Nazarene University in 2007
    • Degree in Political Science and Spanish
  • Over 12 years of corporate business experience
    • I’ve built and managed large, high- caliber teams with revenue targets in the tens of millions.
  • I received my MFA in Creative Writing from NYU in 2018
    • Studied directly under world-class faculty, such as Aleksander Hemon, Geoff Dyer, Katie Kitamura, and Hari Kunzru.
  • Co-Active Training Institute- expected completion February 2020
    • ICF Accredited Professional Coach Training
    • CPCC Certification in summer 2020
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