Way back in February of this year (it was still 2016, I promise) I posted something I called The Story Monday Spread. You may or may not remember. If you do, you’re an amazing person.
In that post, I said that I would start doing interviews. The point was, as with anything on this blog, to tell a story. To tell your stories, with your words, so we can move beyond the surface and categories we place each other. Well, because this blog is highly professional (ahem), I’m now going to post my first interview! (I know you can barely contain the excitement that I moved so quickly with this).
As I promised, these are in the words of the interviewee – I asked the questions, and they gave their answers. I don’t want to manipulate them and try to “pretty” them (or detract from their own power) to make a story – It’s not my story.
For this first interview, I’ve asked fellow author and blogger Charles French three questions about who he is and, I believe you’ll see in his answers, he answered them better than I could have wanted.
If you don’t know who Charles is, then please go and check out his blog so you can find out more. He is an author, and English Professor, a blogger, and so much more. You can find him at Charles French: Words Reading and Writing here at WordPress.
Now, enough of my rambling. On with the interview!
If anyone has read your blog for some time now, they are probably familiar with what you call your atypical path from steelworker to janitor to professor of English Literature. You’ve also spoken on the valuable lessons learned from failure. My question is this: What was the driving force that kept you going from one place to another on your path? How did that steer you toward where you see yourself now, as an English Literature professor?
I am not sure if there was one force that kept me going on a particular path from my early adulthood to becoming an English professor, except for a desire not to take the well-trodden path. While not always followed because of a well-considered intellectual desire, I often simply took a different road from what would have probably been a far easier path. Sometimes, I think I was simply a young man who had not yet learned how much I did not know.I should add though that I have always loved books–I cannot remember a time when I could not read, and the experience of reading and the love of books has been a constant in my life. Taken together, they might form a directive force.
You have spoken about the powerful impact of literature (or words) in our lives. What opened your eyes to this in your own life? Was there one particular piece of writing/speech that impacted you more than others, or was it a systematic awakening? How does this inform your own writing?
As I mentioned in my previous answer, I have always loved books and have been a constant reader, often covering 3-5 books a week. But if I had to choose one kind of book or writing that had the most impact on my life, it would be Shakespeare. I discovered him as a teenager at a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I have read, studied, watched, directed, acted in, and taught Shakespeare most of my adult life. Shakespeare is essential reading for life.
You’ve worn many hats in your life, and you still wear many. What do you feel is the most rewarding hat you wear/role you play? What is the most challenging? How do you approach these responsibilities?
I wear the hats of teacher, writer, and husband and father–soon to be grandfather. They are all deeply important in my life, in very different ways. They are all also intertwined.
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