I spent many childhood summer days in the crisp air conditioning of our community library basement. If I wasn’t raiding the shelves for a new adventure or playing hide-and-seek in the aisles with my older brother, I was probably in the tree at the front entrance. It overlooked the winding concrete steps that forked into two paths. The mountain of stonework provided a moat of landscaping before joining together at the doors—an endless obstacle course. Fortunate that my mother passed on her love of reading in that literary castle, I later felt comfortable enough to spend time pulling research for a paper, or just retreating into new discovery. By the time I was a freshman in high school I wanted to become an English teacher. Though health sciences stole my attention, I allocated many electives to creative writing. Twenty years, five businesses, four children, two doctorates, and one still-untamed imagination later, I’ve returned to my love of escapism.
Experience has taught me that creativity without structure is cotton candy—transient and empty. That might be why I pursued business and science early in my career, but a life blanketed in routine is hardly the answer. I traded security for challenge and jumped into a Master of Fine Arts degree at Western Connecticut State University to sharpen my artistic skills. I didn’t let go of the handle bars with both hands, though; it was a dual-genre degree, which allowed me to major in professional as well as creative writing. For a guy who slept fully dressed, shoes and all, on top of the covers the night before the first day of kindergarten, this was a big step in letting go. I’ve been reading for almost forty years, and have written papers, research reviews, articles, marketing copy, and books for the last twenty. Serving as a magazine science editor for over a decade, working with a publishing house to bring a book to market, and founding my own innovative magazine has allowed me to stretch my entrepreneurial wings far enough to bridge the chasm between art and discipline. As the saying goes, there is no good writing, only good rewriting. Wordsmithing is a craft forged on an unforgiving foundation of grammatical precision. Conversely, there are no rules in creativity. I revel in this dichotomy—it’s a pursuit with no finish line, only new horizons. Vision and structure.
My life isn’t a box of chocolates, it’s a bookshelf. The top shelf of the bookcase by my bed is symmetrically decorated with my favorite authors. These are the books I reread, recommend to others, and sometimes just stand and admire as friends. They are a part of me now. The middle shelves are the easiest to access. Bins hold my wallet, keys, and iPod; Delta Silver Medallion member card, passport, and flash drives. A disorganized pile of books I’m currently reading rises beside my alarm clock as a monument to my scattered interests. The bottom shelves store practical items close at hand: a couple of laptop bags, note pads, a flashlight, and an eight-inch serrated Navy Seal tactical knife—you never know when you might need to trim a hangnail. The bottom shelves are the utility facets of life. The middle shelves port me through the fast-paced, grab-and-go world. But I strive to filter my attention to the top shelf—to organize and add meaning and definition to reality. The goal of WordSpank is to help you live for what matters most in your life. I look forward to joining your journey to the top shelf!
Joe obtained his substitute teaching license to defray graduate school costs, but for some strange reason, he never got through the interview round and retired with zero days in the classroom.