Journal of Writing & Environment

Meet the Editor: John Linstrom, Nonfiction Editor

What drives you to write?

Well, I would say I started feeling driven to write in fifth grade when I      realized (and this was a big deal) that I wouldn’t be an astronaut.  So it  started as an escapist tactic—I figured traveling to different planets in my  writing would let me not only experience those extraterrestrial places  vividly, but also in a more entertaining way (i.e., insert alien here).  But now  I’d say I do it more to make sense of things, mostly through nonfiction and  poetry.

Who is your favorite author?

I’d say Walt Whitman, at the moment.  I fell in love with him in college.  His poetry alternatively challenges and reassures me in a way that I haven’t experienced in other writing.  You get the impression that he cares not only about his subject matter, but about you, reader, too.  His leaves helped me through some tough times.

What does “place” mean to you?

Maybe, everything you experience, as an organism in space.  That leaves a lot out, but it also includes more than some people think it does.  I guess place is what you know and don’t know by experience, and space, by contrast, would be everything you do and don’t know without directly experiencing it.  Hm, I need to think about that more.

What is your favorite place or environment?

Probably the Cascade Mountains in Washington, the ones around Railroad Creek Valley and Holden Village in the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area.  But Lake Michigan duneland, the place of my home, comes in a close second.

What do you look for in a piece of writing?

It’s some kind of mix of earnestness, economy of language, sense of purpose, and lack of pretension.

What’s something surprising you learned last week?

Okay, this was exciting.  My recent historical/literary hero, Liberty Hyde Bailey, while he was a student at Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University), refused to march with the university ROTC.  At the time that was required of all male students.  The professors were apparently perplexed at this show of disobedience from the polite, rural farm kid, but they liked him as a student, so they came up with an alternative assignment to collect plant specimens for the horticulture department.  It’s always fun to learn a new anecdote about your hero that makes him even more bad-ass.


Issue 13:3 will be coming your way within the week!  Check back soon  for Q & A’s with the other faces behind Flyway!