3 Questions with Tom Springer

Tom Springer 2015 300dpiTOM SPRINGER is an essayist, journalist, and environmentalist. He has written about nature and outdoor travel for newspapers and magazines such as Backpacker, Michigan Out-of-Doors, andNotre Dame, and his nature-themed commentaries have aired on several National Public Radio programs. His collection of essays, Looking For Hickories: The Forgotten Wildness of the Rural Midwest (University of Michigan Press), was named a Michigan Notable Book in 2009. Springer holds a master’s degree in environmental journalism from Michigan State University. He lives near Three Rivers, Michigan.

He’ll also be speaking at the upcoming Jot Writers’ Conference (9.9.16) so I thought I would ask him a few questions about writing creative nonfiction.

What’s an important skill a writer should possess if they want to write creative nonfiction?

A good nonfiction writer should know a little about everything and a lot about something. In other words, be a generalist — an omnivorous reader with many interests — but have also one area where you specialize. It could be sustainable agriculture, jazz music, infectious diseases, contemplative prayer or astronomy. Whatever. The point here is to communicate your passion and knowledge in a way that’s enlightening, without being too technical. Nonfiction writers should introduce people to other worlds in a way that’s accessible and makes them want to learn more.

Who are your favorite essay writers and why? Who should we be reading?

My preferences tend toward essayists who focus on the intersect between people and the natural world. The seminal essayist for me is Aldo Leopold, whose deceptively short and simple “A Sand County Alamanac,” established the field of ecology and the impetus for the environmental movement. I also like Scott Russell Sanders, whose essays combine memoir and natural history, with a strong sense of community and place-based work (carpentry, agriculture, homemaking). For beauty and evocative writing, I’d recommend Barbara Kingsolver, a novelist whose nonfiction work resonates with the same literary qualities as her fiction does.

Give us a teaser of your Jot Conference talk. What can attendees expect?

During my session, we will discuss my basic formula for writing a personal essay: facts + firsthand experience + “wisdom synthesis.” If someone in the crowd is willing, we will on the spot take an excerpt of knowledge and experience from their life and shaped into an outline for an essay. Also, there will be free homemade cookies.

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The Jot Writers’ Conference Returns! 9.9.16

Friday, September 9th, 2016

FREE Admission – Event begins at 7pm

Open to all writers. Rookies. Veterans. And everyone in between.
Open to writers of any genre.

The Jot Writers’ Conference is a biannual, one-night event for writers held each spring and fall in West Michigan. It features short, TED-style talks on various aspects of writing and publishing. Admission is free. Come for the inspiring speakers. Stay for the coffee and the chance to meet other writers.

Or just find a nook in the bookstore and write all evening. Don’t worry. We totally get it. 🙂

LOCATION

Baker Book House
2768 East Paris Avenue
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

GUEST SPEAKERS

Aric DavisARIC DAVIS is the author of seven books: From Ashes Rise: A Novel of Michigan, Nickel Plated, A Good and Useful Hurt, The Black Death: A Dead Man Novella, Rough Men, Breaking Point, The Fort and Tunnel Vision. He is married with one daughter and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he worked for sixteen years as a body piercer; he now writes full time. A punk rock aficionado, Davis does anything he can to increase awareness of a good band. He likes weather cold enough to need a sweatshirt but not a coat, and friends who wear their hearts on their sleeves. In addition to reading and writing, he also enjoys roller coasters, hockey, and a good cigar.

 

 
Sarah Grimm

S. D. GRIMM’S first love in writing is young adult speculative fiction. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency and her debut novel, Scarlet Moon, is slated to be published in October 2016. When she’s not writing or editing, Sarah enjoys reading (of course!), making clay dragons for her Grimmlies store on Etsy, practicing kickboxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu, training dogs, and doing anything outdoorsy with the family. Her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog.

 

 

 

Tom Springer 2015 300dpiTOM SPRINGER is an essayist, journalist, and environmentalist. He has written about nature and outdoor travel for newspapers and magazines such as Backpacker, Michigan Out-of-Doors, and Notre Dame, and his nature-themed commentaries have aired on several National Public Radio programs. His collection of essays, Looking For Hickories: The Forgotten Wildness of the Rural Midwest (University of Michigan Press), was named a Michigan Notable Book in 2009. Springer holds a master’s degree in environmental journalism from Michigan State University. He lives near Three Rivers, Michigan.