Author Page: Joseph Shaw

Joseph's blog at Bard and Book

10395191_10152475716122050_2254843321833210940_n2012 Collected Anthology

Includes these stories:

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Joseph Shaw's Biography

Joseph Shaw hails out of Ohio, where he shuffles multiple task, and writes vociferously and eats prolifically... or is it eats... or... never mind.

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Author Interview

Why Do You Write?

I write because it's what I was made to do. When I was a kid and my mom was telling me the right way to fold the sheets so the corners matched up and would then sit neatly and evenly in the closet, I was dreaming about the gnomes that HAD to live under the fire pit in our backyard. When I was in school and my teachers droned on about governmental policies or the quadratic equation, I brewed stories about baseball or monsters or monsters who play baseball. When I'm in a meeting today, my mind is almost never on the tasks at hand. It's somewhere else. Somewhere fun. I write, I tell stories because it's what I do. It's what I've always done. It's what I will always do. I can't help it.

How would you describe your writing method?

My method is simple: keep writing. Sometimes I have an idea of where I want to go and I generally follow that idea. Sometimes I have no idea what to say. The blank page starts to become intimidating. Regardless, I just keep writing until something interesting happens. If nothing interesting happens, I stop, get a drink, sit back down and keep writing. Something interesting usually comes along eventually.

How would you respond to the classic question, "Is there Christian Art, or artists who are Christians?"

Easy Answer: Yes.
Complex Answer: A friend of mine used to be in the Christian music industry. His band lost out on a recording deal because, according to the label, they didn't have enough "Jesuses per minute" in their lyrics. If you're the kind of person who looks for the right number of JPMs (or the equivalent thereof in whichever respective art form with which you hope to engage), you don't understand art. If you're looking for an artist not to express his/her religious values in some respect, you don't understand faith. If, however, you have even the slightest understanding of both faith and art, chances are you don't bother with questions like this too much.

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?

A: Yes ... Work hard. Hard work beats talent nine times out of ten ... Learn the rules. The only way to see the horizon is by standing on the shoulders of the giants who came before you. ... Break the rules. Once you know the rules, it's a lot easier to break them effectively and creatively. ... If you're uncomfortable, you're doing it right. Whatever it is you find yourself not wanting to say is what you should probably say. Say it. Loudly. Often.

Which of your creations has brought you the most joy?

I do a lot of public speaking through Toastmasters International. I wrote a speech once about my grandma and how she used to make peanut butter sandwiches for my friends and I when we played baseball behind her house back when we were kids. Somehow, it ended up being about forgiveness. I won a few contests with that speech. A few people who heard it said it meant something to them.

Someone else who heard the speech asked for permission to take the story to prisons around the country. I've heard back from a few folks who've said that story has helped them reconnect with God. I've always believed that God can take what you do, no matter how small, and use it for a lot of good but, until now, I've never seen that happen. God gave me the privilege of seeing a bit of what he can do with this one little thing I wrote, and it makes me smile every time I think about it.

Which has brought you the most heartache?

The same speech has also brought me the most heartache, because the story, while it is uplifting, was a hard one to live through. And I relive it every time I think about it.

The speech is called "Peanut Butter Sandwiches," and you can listen to it here, if you like. (side note: I was technically on crutches when I gave this speech, which is why I walk funny).

Is there anything else you'd like to say?

Yes, and I'm working on getting it down on paper for publication soon.