I've been working as a freelance writer, editor, teacher, and writing coach for more than two decades.
My academic background includes a BA in creative writing from Oberlin College, an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Goucher College, and fellowships from The Breadloaf Writers' Conference, Columbia University, Goucher College, and the Chicago Area Writers' Project where I studied best practices for writing instruction.
My professional background, beyond writing and teaching, also includes work as a documentary filmmaker, museum exhibit designer, wilderness trip guide, and corporate facilitator.
I've lived in Tanzania and on both the east and west coasts in the US. I now live in Chicago with my wife, daughter, and two Boston Terriers. That chicken you see in this photo is now a teenager.
I published my first nonfiction story—a late-night chronicle of people's reactions to the start of the First Gulf War—when I was twenty-three, and (fun fact) my reporting that night was later chronicled in a song, called "Shane," by Liz Phair. I published my first piece of short fiction soon after. Since then, my work has appeared in several anthologies as well as in Glamour, GQ, Harper’s, The LA Times Magazine, The Guardian Weekly, National Geographic, Nerve, The New York Times Magazine, Men’s Journal, Outside, Playboy, Ploughshares, Smithsonian, Spin, and on the public radio program This American Life. My work as a director, producer, and documentary scriptwriter has also appeared in a number of fact-based television shows airing on The National Geographic Channel and A&E.
As an educator, I’ve taught courses, sat on panels, and given talks at Columbia College, DePaul University, Emerson College, Evanston Township HS, Goucher College, The School of the Art Institute/Chicago, The University of Chicago, The University of Chicago Lab HS, The University of Illinois/Chicago, New York University, Northwestern University, The University of Notre Dame, and via the online hub for content-making media professionals, MediaBistro. For years, I also served as Director of a busy drop-in writing center at a college prep high school, helping dozens of students each week complete everything from admissions essays and academic papers to resumes, cover letters, and capstone projects.
Secret to My Success
Beyond my professional highlights, I suspect the one thing that most sets me apart and makes me a more effective teacher, tutor, and writing coach is the fact that—due to a childhood learning difference—I didn't learn to read and write until I was ten. And yet, with a lot of help along the way, I went on to become a professional writer, editor, and writing coach. What's my point? Just that I get not getting it. I know what that's like. And so it's never hard for me to grasp why one of my clients might struggle with some literary concept or editorial convention. But the point is also that, with enough support, I believe absolutely anyone can become a stronger writer. And I humbly hold myself up as proof.