Pleasures & Perils of Writing Non-Fiction

I write non-fiction at the intersection of anthropology & education. This is my author’s blog.

Most readers of authors’ blogs, I imagine, are curious about how writers of fiction go about creating their work. How much do the authors draw on their personal backgrounds? Which luminary fiction writers do they try to emulate? Do they have ways of keeping track of all the little details about their characters? Have they ever wished they’d created a different ending?

In this blog, I’ll be sharing with you my experience of the pleasures and perils of writing NON-fiction. The experience of writing non-fiction is quite different from that of writing fiction. Sure, both types of writers must physically get words onto paper, but it’s the mental and practical processes readers are interested in, right? So that’s what I’ll be discussing.

Are you wondering whether I’ve ever attempted to write fiction? Yes. Here’s how it came about: Evangelical Christianity played a large role in my early life — then I went off to college. Four years at a secular university (Johns Hopkins in Baltimore) put my childhood faith to the test! At first, I responded by becoming more committed to it; that lasted through my junior year. In my senior year, the realities of trying to live an exemplary life 24/7 became just too overwhelming to sustain. Giving up my faith proved mentally and emotionally wrenching. Some years later, I wrote a work of fiction based very largely on my religious evolution: “The Damnation of Stephen Gensemer.” I couldn’t get it published.

With that exception, I’ve spent my entire professional career as, largely, a writer of non-fiction expository prose, some of it in a business context because I managed a global consulting firm for 31 years. My personal bibliography includes some 150 titles. Nearly 30 professional pieces of mine can be read on at no charge.

I’m also proud to say that I was invited to write entries for two encyclopedias. For the “Encyclopedia of Intercultural Competence” (Sage, 2015), I wrote ten entries, more than any other contributor. For the “International Encyclopedia of Intercultural Communication” (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017), I wrote two long — 6000 words — entries, including “Pedagogy Across Cultures,” which represents my academic specialty.

In this blog, “Pleasures & Perils of Writing Non-Fiction,” I’ll be sharing entries that, at 600 words maximum each, should take most people about five minutes to read. Here we go…

Educator, independent scholar. I write books for Americans with insights re how parents & teachers in other societies deal with young children & their learning.