Like most writers, I started early. I wrote my first short story, which was an unadulterated rip-off of a famous monster movie, at the age of eight. I got my first typewriter when I was ten, and I was sending stories out to magazines by the time I was sixteen.
In high school, I tried to mold myself into a journalist. I wrote three-quarters of the stories that appeared in the school newspaper, and I essentially carried the paper for a semester on my own, but I realized, in my junior year, that majoring in journalism in college would force me to give up on my fiction.
After a brief flirtation with the idea of a Kerouac-styled odyssey that was supposed to provide grist for the writing mill, I decided to attend Texas A&M University, where I studied the most obvious subject I could think of—English—and eventually earned a Masters with an emphasis on creative writing, which was A&M’s answer to the much-hyped MFA programs that were churning out unemployed artists across the country.
When I graduated, I was lucky enough to land a job at Poetry Magazine in Chicago, which is one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious literary journals. While I was there, I worked under Joseph Parisi, who taught me a great deal about the balance that must be struck between art and commerce in a world of nonexistent patrons. I also assisted with the production of the Magazine and books that were published by the Modern Poetry Association, and I helped the staff design the Magazine’s first website.
Although I enjoyed working at Poetry Magazine, I was still worried about the prospect of being sucked into a career that would keep me from writing, so I moved with my wife, who has always been my most steadfast supporter, to Raleigh, North Carolina to accept a position at Meredith College, a liberal arts campus with a terrific English department. I taught survey courses and that old standby, comp and rhetoric, to freshmen and sophomores three days a week, and I was able to work on my fiction when I wasn’t grading papers or holding office hours; all in all, it was a fair arrangement, but my wife and I knew that we didn’t want to stay in North Carolina, and we moved to New York a few years later.
In 2001, following the attacks of September 11, I started working on the novel that would later become Let It Be. At roughly the same time, I became obsessed with the idea of capturing the varied landscape of New York City on film, and I put myself through a sort of self-guided apprenticeship that tackled darkroom techniques, various film formats and cameras, and printing. In 2008, I founded the fine art printing company Brooklyn Prints, whose catalog has grown to include all sorts of subjects that remain related, in one way or another, to the city that I love.
Today, I live in Brooklyn, the borough of Kings, with my wife and my two kids. I write every day and try to take pictures whenever I can, and although I am always aware of the fact that it has taken me a little longer to get to where I am today than I thought it would when I started sending out those stories that were typed up by the teenaged version of me, I remind myself, every morning that I wake up, that I am privileged to be able to do the things that I love to do.
My debut novel, Let It Be, was released by Bracket Books on May 8, 2013.