My Writing Process

Thanks to Jeff Muse, writer, park ranger, environmental educator, and cartographer of the outer life as well as the inner, for inviting me to participate in the My Writing Process blog tour. A fellow student at Ashland University’s MFA program, Jeff came alongside to cheer me on even as I ran up and down writing’s field of play with my helmet on backwards. Nobody writes with as much intentionality and grace as Jeff does. Seriously, check out

As for me, aside from this blog, I’ve got a memoir exploring my development as a nerd that I’d like to be selected for publication, the beginning of a second work about my grandfather’s abandonment of his wife and five kids to start a cult out west, and an essay in progress about the insanity of my life as a runner, while an extensive list of other writing topics ties up my cloud storage. If anyone wants to pay me for my work, I’ll be happy to quit my job to write full time; just let me know.

I work in the realm of creative nonfiction, but the majority of my selections on Goodreads fall within the science fiction and fantasy genres, so I maintain an extensive vocabulary of geek speak and pop culture sensibility that permeates my work. No, I’ve not seen the latest episode of Game of Thrones, but I have read the books, so if you’d like to know what jaw-dropping event happens next, I’ll be happy to oblige.

I write what I do because I’m the person whose head contains so much useless crap if I don’t forge it into something of value, it gums up the works, and I can’t perform my roles as a teacher, husband, and father well. I’m a knowledge glutton, and if I don’t work off the excess calories, they weigh me down. I could do all this working in fiction, but I like the realness of nonfiction, the additional oomph because the stories dwell in truth. Writing in the genre challenges me even as it imparts wisdom, revealing details I’d not before considered.

If I leave my writing up to, “Oh, I’ll get to it after school or maybe after our kids are in bed,” it only gets done when there’s the rare external deadline. I’m a morning person with enough discipline to get up at 4:15 on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 5:30 on Saturdays to run, so I figured I’d extend that model to the other three days of my work week for writing. Oh, don’t worry; coffee’s involved. After almost two months of this practice, I have yet to get three writing days in during the course of one week, but I’ve written more than ever before, uninterrupted and guilt-free.

Speaking of writing (effortless transition), allow me to introduce three friends who write utilizing the internets, who maintain a log on the world wide web, a weblog if you’d allow. I’ll just call them bloggers. They will be continuing the My Writing Process Blog Tour on April 28th.

First up, Jeff Mongold: A recent graduate of Ashland University’s MFA in Creative Nonfiction program, he currently works at Hiram College in Northeast Ohio and is revising his first full-length manuscript, Living in Reverse: A Memoir. Jeff has been published in The Broken Plate and Kept Mistakes.  His blog, Scrap Paper Vol 1 can be found at

Justin Bessler received his MFA in creative writing from Ashland University in 2012. He is currently working on a memoir and teaches as a community faculty instructor at Marion Technical College. He lives in Marion, Ohio, with his wife Crystal and their three children James, Olivia, and Miles. He wrote his first poem for his grandmother, who published it on her refrigerator, a popular place for reading material in the home. “Morning” marks his first poem published for a journal with a readership (much) greater than seven. His blog (currently in its fifth restart) is at, where he intends to write about faith, family, writing, and other parts unknown

Kimberly Whitaker claims: I was born in the 80s.  I grew up in the 90s.  My most defining years were the 00s–the years that nobody knows how to reference.  The thousands?  The zeroes?  The Oh-Ohs?  Come on, America.  Let’s standardize it.
I’ve only been into writing for six years or so (but I took a year hiatus after getting my MFA in creative nonfiction, so I guess 5?)
I took a creative writing class in college.  I wasn’t very good.  I’m not very good at writing poetry.
I started writing when I started teaching in Maryland.  It started out when I would tell stories about what happened in my classroom that day (a reading quiz where a student seriously put that Roman Shakespeare performed his plays at Woodstock) or my latest misadventure in dating (He actually got so drunk he laid down on the pool table!).  I was told that I had a natural ability to tell stories by my friend and colleague, Kelly.  Kelly earned her MFA from Goucher College, and with me, shared pieces of her thesis about falling in love with the city of Baltimore and the men in it.  I figured that I could write stories too.
I got my MFA from Ashland University.  I’ve been dabbling here and there, but I’m ready to jump feet first back into writing.*
*Note: I’m very aware that I used a cliche to describe my new determination for writing.  Leave your judgement at the door, reader.
I’m currently a high school English teacher in the outskirts of Pittsburgh.  This is my 6th year of teaching.  I think teaching and writing are very similar–you try something.  It might turn out to be a dud; it might spark something brilliant.  You just have to try a bunch of things to see what makes sense.

Here’s my blog link:

Traveller, Godspeed to you on your quest. May the road rise up to meet you, and nary a dragon befoul you with breath most dire and foul. See? Geek speak.