Griffin at 3

For his birthday gift to me, my son Griffin looked at me, said, “I want Daddy!” and then ran as fast as his little legs with skinned knees would take him.

He turned three although you might not know it because he can read.  We’re not talking sight words here, we’re talking 50-cent, multi-syllable words. Like you could think of a word right now and write it down, and he’d read it to you. Even if he hasn’t seen it before.

He’s amazing.

You also might not know he’s three because he won’t talk to you.  He might say “Hi!” to you or “How are you?”, but he won’t carry on a conversation….

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Those who shed these other tears

When I tell people about the Facing Project, they often say, “Oh, it’s like an oral history project.”

“Sure,” I say, not really knowing exactly what an oral history project is.  Well instead of continuing not to know J.R., my co-founder of the project, and I are taking it upon ourselves to learn about the tradition and execution of oral histories.

So I’m reading Studs Terkel’s autobiography, Touch and Go. Terkel won a Pulitzer for his book The Good War, which is an oral history of World War Two.

He was in his 90s when he wrote Touch and Go and so far it’s filled with rambling references of people and topics that I’m not familiar with, but I’m enjoying his philosophy of writing about…

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Flashback: That Time I Was a Pirate on the Great Lakes

Aboard the Picton Castle in 2006

I have a buddy obsessed with sailing around the world, an obsession I could very easily catch if I thought about it too long. To feed his obsession, I shared one of my few sailing stories with him. For 2-days I got to play pirate on a tall ship, the Picton Castle, in the Great Lakes.

I wanted to repost it because I feel like it highlights the lengths I will go to get a story. In this case, 90-feet off the deck! (I think there are much more talented writers than I am, but I often go places other writers won’t go, and I think that has played a large part in my success.) And more than that this story shows how my degree in anthropology influenced my writing. In anthropology one of the techniques used to gather qualitative data (stories) is participant observation. This means the researcher just doesn’t sit on the sidelines and scribble in a notebook, but they get in with the folks they are studying and get their hands dirty:

“Participant Observation” defined on Wikipedia:

Its aim is to gain a close and intimate familiarity with a given group of individuals (such as a religious, occupational, sub cultural group, or a particular community) and their practices through an intensive involvement with people in their cultural environment, usually over an extended period of time. The method originated in the field research of social anthropologists, especially Bronisław Malinowskiin Britain, the students of Franz Boas in the United States, and in the later urban research of the Chicago School of sociology.

I think the piece below reflects my commitment to this approach. Hope you enjoy it.

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Spend a day with me talking writing

Hanging with Jama in 2012.

I volunteer on the planning committee of the Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie, Indiana.  I met the magnificent agent, Caren (Johnson) Estesen, who sold WEARING to Wiley at the conference in 2007.  Now I enjoy helping other writers on their writing journeys.

I’ve keynoted at the conference, led breakout sessions, moderated panels, and in general done whatever Jama, the director, has asked me to do. But this marks the first year that I’m leading an intensive session during Part I of the conference.  I’m really pumped! 

The MWW blog interviewed me about the intensive.  (And when I say they I mean that I interviewed myself.)

In the interview I declare I’m jealous of…

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Dear “World Travelers,” stop counting countries

There’s no good way to quantify travel. I wish folks would stop trying.

International travel has been part of my life and my career for the past 13 years. I started traveling right out of college. I did the 6-month backpacking thing through Hawaii, Australia, Thailand, Nepal, and zipped through Europe. The next year I went to New Zealand on the last leg of an around-the-world ticket I had purchased in Australia. There were other trips to Eastern Europe, Central America, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Western Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and beyond.

I’ve written two books about my travels. One to meet the folks who made my favorite items of clothing, and one to meet the farmers and fishermen responsible for much of the…

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Two thoughts on parenting…

These aren’t parenting strategies.  Parenting strategies to me are like fad-diets.  Raise your kids like Europeans! Raise your kids like Chinese! Raise your kids like cavemen!  However you raise your kids, you will succeed and fail. Just love them and stop telling everyone else how to raise their kids.

Anyhow, I’ve been a parent now for 5 1/2 years, so this isn’t to say that I know much of anything about parenting at this point.  Years from now, we’ll let the therapists decide that.  These are more my thoughts on how I feel as a parent:

#1 Kids give you less time to change the world, but more of a reason.

I’m fortunate that my work reaches people and hopefully changes the way they…

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