He shook a mound of nuts and raisins into his palm, then
closed the bag and crammed it back into his pocket alongside his pen and a
small Bible. A “half-Bible,” his brother called it, a book so slim that only
one testament could fit. But one testament was enough. A single revelation. A
single conversion. He washed the dried fruit and nuts down with a swallow of
water, as warm as his blood.
“Less of a shock to the system,” he whispered, something he
remembered from an article in a health magazine. He took a long drink.
The cellophane in his pocket crackled with each stride. And
each stride became a reminder of the civilization he had left behind in search
of God’s country, which had begun with the short walk from the Organ Pipe Cactus
Monument visitors’ center and would end, according to his plan, at the vistas
of Mount Elijah. Then he heard the crunch of tires atop gravel, which drowned
out the scraping of his boots along the trail.
Writer Jeffrey Ihlenfeldt here discusses his short story "Dust and the Moon," which appears in volume XXXV of The Worcester Review and shares his writing process, daily routine, and upcoming work.
In addition to being an accomplished writer, you are also a professor at Harrisburg Area Community College. Could you describe what a typical day teaching and writing looks like during the semester?
Of course, since most of my teaching responsibilities relate to writing and literature, there's a great deal of reading involved—not only before class but also after. I read student assignments—especially as it relates to creative writing—fairly constantly.
I do make a point of keeping a strict schedule for my own writing—generally early mornings. The other thing I do is treat my creative writing classes as an opportunity to explore my own ideas as well as my students’. For example, I actively participate in writing prompts, impromptus, and assignments that we complete in class. This helps me to exercise my writing skills along with my students. It also reinforces the notion that all writers—no matter how seasoned or how experienced—start at the same place, the blank page.
Ultimately, I find that setting a writing schedule and sticking to that schedule as closely as possible gives me the time I need for my own work.
On your website, you mention that you teach additional writing workshops aside from those at the college. What are these workshops like? What expectations should writers who attend them have?