Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Joseph Millichap, Pat Carr, Karen Pelz

Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


I wrote my first story in third grade. “Francine and the Head-Chopper Man” borrowed its plot from “Beauty and the Beast,” but my teacher didn’t seem to mind. In fact, she arranged for me to read the story to the fifth-grade class down the hall. After that first public reading, I was hooked. I knew at age seven I was going to be a writer.

When I discovered journalism in the ninth grade, I knew just what type of writing I was going to do. In junior high and high school, I was editor of the newspapers, and in college I worked on the newspaper and was editor of the yearbook. After graduation I was a reporter, copy editor and features editor at two daily newspapers in Kentucky.

I began teaching journalism part-time at Western Kentucky University in 1983, and two years later, when I heard about the English department’s new writing concentration, I decided to study for my master’s. In Frank Steele’s Advanced Writing Workshop, I was confronted by a question I hadn’t asked in years: What did I want to write?

Having written newspaper articles for years, I wanted to try something different – the essay, based on fact and usually written in the first person, although not necessarily. I believe this type of writing is valuable because it records and attempts to understand events, people and perceptions.

As the number of essays grew, I began to realize a potential problem: If the subjects are dissimilar, any collection of essays runs the risk of seeming disorganized. If the subjects are similar, it runs the risk of sounding the same from essay to essay.

I hope this collection of essays avoids both faults. The subjects are dissimilar – ranging from family to education – but revolve around the common themes of relationships and time. Each essay examines relationships between parents and children, sisters and brothers, friends, teachers and students, or others. In addition, they all deal with time, either chronicling the passage of time or preserving the moment.

Most of the essays are written in the first person, and many deal with family issues. Those two details may sound as if the collection is germane to only one person, the writer. But it is not. Most readers will recognize themselves or people they know in the characters, and many will recall a way of life, an attitude, or a conversation they thought they had forgotten. Even those who don’t recognize or remember the characters may find the essays valuable if they learn a little about ordinary people and ordinary problems.


Arts and Humanities | Creative Writing | Fiction

Included in

Fiction Commons