Right after The Miracle Letters came out a couple of years ago, I went on a book tour (Sam Osterhout went with me).  It was equal parts thrilling and depressing.  There were excellent stops with lots of people and good press. Sam and I drank beer and high-fived.  And, there were stops where the bookstore forgot to order the book and almost no one showed up.  Sam and I drank beer and stared out the window of our hotel.

Cleveland Malaise

At the end of the summer of traveling, I was broke, jobless, had a good publishing record and lots of performance under my belt, but otherwise was without prospects (except if I could think of another book, which, at the time, I couldn’t).   So, as I was wont to do, I panicked and began searching for other careers.

Here’s what I came up with: Therapist, web designer, truck driver, bike messenger.

Turns out I’d have to do another graduate degree to be a therapist (I suppose I knew this).  Also, I was prone to making rash decisions and would have likely guided clients into making rash decisions, which might have sent them all into the deep end.  Turns out, after getting some design training from my pal Karen Kopacz, I neither have an eye for design nor any desire to do it, although I generally like the way web designers look (I got some new glasses after that).  Turns out I don’t like driving — this I knew from driving 7,000 miles during the summer of ’08.  Half of the time I felt like driving off a cliff — the open road is no mistress to me.  Turns out bike messengers have to like bikes, which I don’t — they hurt my ass, and also have been largely replaced in the economy by electronic devices.

After crashing around, considering all the possibilities, even thought of buying a bowling alley or a convenience store, I realized I was doing something I’ve often done: search for perpendicular answers to relatively uncomplicated questions that simply require me to put my head down and go back to work.  I had an MFA (terminal degree in Creative Writing), a book, lots of experience writing and performing, and actually enjoyed the act of writing.  Other than a childhood passion for bowling, which I’d left behind, how would owning a bowling alley be better than what I already had?

Fried foods… yes.  But, instead:

I put my head down, wrote another book, helped write and produce more performance, looked around, and, after 18 months, landed a teaching job at Mankato State — one of the few possible tenure track jobs I could even consider as my kids are here in Minnesota and I won’t relocate.

I am extremely psyched about this job.  I adore the other faculty.  The grad students I’ve met in the program are bright and very funny.  I’m going to be close to my kids, but also in a smaller city a lot, the kind of place where lots of my stories take place…

A shock of terror jangled me early this morning: if I had knee-jerked the way I was prone to when I was not too much younger than I am now, I might be in a third semester of a grad program in psychology, running up more student loan debt, facing years of internships and coursework.  The horror.

Holy balls.


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I am…

Geoff Herbach. I am the author of Stupid Fast and Nothing Special, among a bunch of other stuff. When I'm not writing, I teach writing at Minnesota State, Mankato.

Stupid Fast

Nothing Special

I’m With Stupid

Fat Boy (Gabe Johnson Takes Over)

PowderKeg Stage

Herbach's favorite store

My Bizzle

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