Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Sort of Bio

As you've gathered by now, I write. I write every day. That's the thing, writers write--a complete cliché and the stuff of truth…
…some of that writing has been rewarded and you can find my work regularly in literary magazines, more of it is before agents, stating its case for representation. (For a traditional credits list and information on my books, skip to the bottom of the page—this post, like everything else I do, probably appears backwards. To read my stance on the value of writing, read on.)
I write literary fiction. I'm serious about craft and I have a love affair with language—so much so I have to watch becoming indulgent. I differentiate between the architecture of story from the engineering of plot. Now I recognize this all makes me sound pompous and pretentious. Perhaps I am. However, I think it is vitally important that all artists know who they are and stay true to themselves.

Writing is a way of seeing, a way of being, and it is typically the only way I can consistently make sense of the world and articulate my eccentric and often chaotic mind. I enter my writing knowing that it asks work of its readers—not hard labor, but mindfulness. Writing worth reading is a sacred exchange. It is not television. It is not candy. I like candy, but I want to eat it, not read it and certainly not write it. I believe that fiction is a means towards truth. When I speak about truth I mean, in part, that I wish to know human character, to understand people as they are and as they wish to be seen. The human mind is fragile and potent; it is beautiful and it is capable of doing unspeakable things. To say that I value character-driven fiction over plot is an understatement. A reflective life is more than a string of events, no matter how dramatic those events. There is meaning in living a life fully awake.

Such ridiculously bold statements are some of the essentials about me as a writer. I may well prove myself wrong over time. I'm willing to take that risk, for I want to lead an examined life and for me that means producing writing that tries to examine lives—mine, those in the culture around me, and those who preceded me.

As for the more pedestrian elements about, I offer the following synopsis:

I am a husband and a parent of three grown daughters. Those roles are more important than writing or anything else. I spent twenty years teaching writing at the college level, work that I valued for the contact with students and with their writing. At some point every day for those twenty years I was humbled by something powerful a student wrote, said, or realized. I continue to feel privileged to spend so much of my adult life working within the vibrancy of the unique setting of a university. Beyond teaching, that setting allowed me contact with genuine intellectualism and the perks of coordinating a writing program and a writing conference. I now live and write in one of the most beautiful and largely unspoiled American wildernesses at the edge of greater Yellowstone ecosystem just south of Jackson, WY.

I write primarily fiction, dabble regularly in essays, and occasionally produce really bad poetry. My work has appeared in the following publications, among others, and I am deeply indebted to the editors of such literary magazines, editors who typically toil in obscurity and without pay: Arlington Literary Journal, The Bloomsbury Review, Dogwood, The Externalist, Fugue, Matter, Porcupine Literary Arts, Talking River Review, Tar River Review, Weber: the Contemporary West, Zone 3. I publish under the pseudonym Mark Hummel. I have completed three novels, each radically different from the next. A synopsis for each is available under their corresponding titles in the menu bar.

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