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The assignment: read 50+ nonfiction books, write 13 essays, and do it in 2 years.


Writing Reality is a DIY MFA in Nonfiction Writing, an ambitious reading project, a quest to explore my own voice as a writer and maybe pick up some new readers and a community of writers along the way.


For the last sixteen years in my profession, I have been a behind-the-scenes writer, writing speeches, newsletter copy, promotional blog posts, grant proposals, reports, training manuals, all manner of organizational communications. Most of my written work is hiding behind the names of better known clients or lost in the mists of now defunct websites.


In recent years, I have been working on my craft as a writer in my own right, under my own name, searching for my own voice in a world crowded by words.


At the beginning of the pandemic, I started writing a book length project and learned (among other things) that I need to hone my writing through smaller pieces first and attempt to “build my platform” as the publishing industry folks say. Thus, Writing Reality was born. While I wrestle with the work of masters, Writing Reality is also about making writing a reality for me.


For better or worse, I have decided to show my work and share this project publicly.


How it will work:

  • I have assembled a curriculum of 50+ nonfiction books, each of which has had a major impact, either in the literary world or in shaping how readers understand the world we share. You can take a look at the list here, though it is subject to change and evolution.

  • I have organized these books into 12 thematic categories. This adds up to nearly 20,000 pages of reading, so now it’s a race against the clock to finish this part of the project.

  • I will write one essay on each theme and a final essay as a kind of summative thesis to conclude the project.

  • I will also write shorter blog posts about what I’m learning and reflections on the process itself.

  • Finally, I hope a community of readers and writers forms around the project, and I will strive to serve that community to the best of my ability. Maybe others will take this project on as a challenge for themselves. Maybe one or more book clubs might form around the reading list. Who knows? I’m not going to force it, but I will be asking people who comment or follow me on social media or sign up for the email list how they might want to be more involved.


The categories and themes, in the order I currently plan to read them (subject to change):

  • Bestsellers & Prize Winners

  • Cities

  • Literary Legends

  • Democracy

  • Feminism

  • The Conservative Mind

  • Migrations

  • Race in the United States

  • The Queer Experience

  • Christianities

  • Nature, Science, Technology

  • The History of Nonfiction Writing (more woven between thematic readings)

  • Bonus category! I’ve thrown a few books On Writing & Criticism into the mix as well.



If/when the audience for this project grows, I will be reaching out to followers and supporters to see if I can enrich the experience and weave a community of nonfiction readers and writers together. At this early stage, here's how you can stay informed and provide support:

  • Sign up for my newsletter at the bottom of this page.

  • You can gift me a book from the project reading list. Go to my Wish List at, where each purchase supports this project but also independent bookstores: win-win-win. I own some of what's on the list, but the rest will cost me about $1,000 over the course of the project, so this is a very nice way to say, "You're doing great! Keep going!" 

  • You can become a patron on Patreon.

  • Don't forget to follow me on your preferred social media platforms, link buttons in the navigation bar above. If you have an idea or a question, you can message me on one of those platforms. I've been pretty quiet on social media lately, but now that I have something new to share, I'll be showing up more in those spaces.


writer & consultant


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