Getting mixed up with the ancient way of thinking about talent is no way to succeed.

From the first moment I heard Amanda Gorman answering questions about her poetry and her early success, I was, in equal measure, full of admiration and resentment.

Amanda Gorman reciting her poem The Hill We Climb at the Jan. 20 Presidential Inauguraion. Photo by © AP

Compelling yet too famous, too early, Gorman shattered any easy notions I had about her and left me, a middle-aged writer, feeling split open, old and bitter ideas about talent and growth revealed.

Her poem at the Presidential Inauguration and her youth left me inert, until I realized my internal warring about talent, and how it is…

Dispatch on creativity

For his DIY Masters Class, one writer investigates creativity

I left teaching more than a year ago to write children’s books. The question from people who know me casually is legitimate: How many books have you published?

The act of making something out of nothing demands investigation, and, maybe, believing in some magic. Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Well … none.

Poems? Uh….a few, so far.

Then comes some silence. In that quiet hides another question: So, what have you been doing?

It’s the how-do-you-account-for-yourself question.

As a way to explain myself quickly and simply, I tell people that I’m putting myself through a Do-It-Yourself master’s program. The instruction can be spotty. The tuition is affordable. I paid off no one to get accepted. …

Repurposing Fall

Going back to school isn’t only for students

The seductive sadness of summer’s end weighed on me when I came home from camping with my family over Labor Day weekend. I had been ignoring the shortening days, the cooler mornings, my garden’s shriveling plants.

Fall doesn’t have to mean brown, shriveled leaves, like these from Horse Chestnut Tree. Like students do each September, adults can reimagine themselves this season.

We hear a prevailing cultural message about summer passing: The end is near. The fun is over. For weeks, I struggled to find a different way to think about fall, one without loss at its core.

The answer I found is as easy as going back to school. Mary Laura Philpotte wrote a piece in the New York Times about the idea that returning…

This Smith-Corona typewriter given to me a year ago has taught me important lessons about writing.

My Smith-Corona taught me how to write.

The manual typewriter reminds me every time I use it that I have to be careful about my relationship with freedom. It’s a drug that feels good going down, but too much of it disrupts my work flow. My slick laptop manipulates text so easily that if I don’t pay attention, I don’t write anything new for hours.

It’s not that I get distracted by social media or jumping down an internet rabbit hole. I turn off my wi-fi when writing. …

What They Call Fun Might Extend Their Lives

Those women in the above photo are some special folks. They represent about half of a group of women who call themselves the Hags. From left to right: Scooter, Terri, Peggy (in front,) Tina (middle,) Janet (my wife,) Laurie (hat and sunglasses,) and Monster.

I expected more dancing in my life, though not in my garden. I knew we’d stay up late drinking, telling stories, and laughing. I anticipated the guitar and lovely voices during dinner duties.

The self-described Hags, friends of ours since we met in college in the 1980s, have been gathering for more than 25 years across the west, and my wife, Janet, and I knew that these “fun hogs” would bring a week of joy to our western Massachusetts home when we invited them in the summer of 2018.

What I did…

Gregory Kerstetter

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store