Matthew Eck

recorded in Kansas City, MO/KS

 

Matthew Eck

My name is Matthew Eck, I live in Kansas City, Missouri. I have lived here for…four years now? I have to think about that. I went to the University of Montana for my graduate school and before that I lived in Wichita, Kansas where I did my undergraduate. I was born and raised essentially in Wichita and lived there until I joined the Army and then, when I came back from the Army, I went to college and fell madly in love with a woman and married her. We initially moved back to Kansas City because I’d received a job adjuncting at the Art Institute in Kansas City and it was always—I really liked that job. And we could be closer to our family. So my new book is—essentially takes place in Kansas City but I started writing it when I didn’t know Kansas city that well so I really took a lot of fictional license with it as a city and I probably need to say that somewhere in the front of the book so people don’t think I’m an idiot and don’t know my way around Kansas City. So, I make up river names in this town. But one of the things I really liked about setting the novel in Kansas City was it kind of became like my love affair with Kansas City, like, trying to discover interesting places to write about. I always feel like, you know, the easiest way to make any scene in a short story or a novel better is to put it somewhere interesting. So that’s what I do here in Kansas City. There’s a great writing community here, there are a lot of colleges in this area—UMKC, University of Central Missouri, where I teach, KU—and they put out a lot of great writers, and they bring in a lot of great writers. Kansas City is centrally located and so far I’ve had nothing but a wonderful experience with many of the writers that I’ve met here. I don’t know too many jerks. If I did, I would slander them for you. No, I really wouldn’t, I wouldn’t, no, there are some jackasses in the world but I guess I don’t hang out with too many of them.


The Knox Writers’ House

That’s good. You were talking about the good writing community—do you participate actively in that?


Eck

Yeah, I do a lot of—I mean, I do readings; whenever I’m asked to come be a part of an event, I will. In Kansas City, I’ve been a part of—through the NEA—I did an Operation Homecoming workshop with some veterans. I really enjoyed that.


KWH

That’s so cool, we were just talking about that.


Eck

And I did another kind of event like Operation Homecoming that was both the NEA and the Writers’ Guild of America East. I’ve done some for them in San Antonio and Columbus, Ohio.


KWH

How do those work?


Eck

Just bring in veterans and listen to them. Try and encourage them in whatever it is they want to do. If they’re trying to write fiction, you help them in that way, if they’re trying to write poetry, you help them in that way. A lot of them wanted to write nonfiction of course, so. A lot of it is, you just give them, to steal something from Richard Hugo I guess, you give them triggering towns or triggering moments—things that’ll kind of help them generate the work. Most of what we did at those veteran writing workshops is really kind of helping people figure out how to lay a good foundation for writing a book or trying to become a writer. Which is essentially anybody—if you want to become a writer, you have to work at it like everybody so just set aside four hours a day and go after it. Try and get a thousand words out. I’ve heard a lot of people say that, you know, if you get a thousand words out in two hours, just go ahead and take the rest of the day off. Because some days it takes you four. And some days, you know, you only get a paragraph out of four hours.


KWH

It’s a good paragraph though.


Eck

Yeah, you hope it’s a good paragraph. You just gotta stick with it, you know. You’re the only one that’s ever gonna make all the mistakes you’re going to make in this life.

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