Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.
Name: Sean Ironman
Title of Piece published in Sweet: One-Way Ticket to The Promised Land
Sean is working toward a PhD in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and teaches creative writing and composition. He currently does not have a website, but plans to.
What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?
I’ve been studying for my exams and revising my first book, so no major professional accomplishments. But I lost twenty-five pounds, so there’s that.
Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?
I’m revising my first book, a memoir told in essays titled And I Will Give You As Many Roast Bones As You Need. The title comes from Kipling’s short story, “The Cat That Walked By Himself,” which is about the domestication of animals. One of the through lines of the book is my efforts to save my boxer, Hankelford, who at two years old was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The book places those events beside two others from that same year: my parents’ divorce and my relationship with my pregnant girlfriend at the time who has an abortion. I’m excited about it because it’s fascinating to see how events and relationships connect and inform each other.
Who is your favorite author?
Just one? George Orwell and James Baldwin are the greatest essayists.
What is your favorite poem/essay/book?
I’ll try to stick to one for this, but if you ask me next week it may be different. Jack London’s White Fang is the only book I finished and then immediately started reading from the first page again. I paused about ten seconds before diving back in. I was a kid at the time, but that still means something, I think.
What inspires you to write?
There are two sides to this:
1) Reading or watching things I don’t like or that I find frustrating. From when I was eighteen and first started writing creatively, I said, “Why do writers always have to do it this way? Why don’t they ever do it this other way?” So I said, well, I guess I have to do it.
2) I also think of my parents, who seem to have spent their adult lives working jobs they hate. I don’t want to do that. So I sit down and I write. That’s the only way to be a writer.
What is your favorite sweet?
My favorite sweet is a Black & White Cookie. I have a story:
When I was twenty-one, I was in a bad car accident. I lost control of my pickup truck in the rain early one morning. It tipped onto the driver’s side and my left arm was dragged along the road for about fifty or sixty yards. The flesh off my forearm was stripped to the bone. An ambulance brought me to the hospital, and I was cleaned up and given Oxy for the pain and then sent on my way. A couple hours later, I walked to a coffee shop for breakfast. I was starving. I looked at the bakery case and wanted to order a Cheese Danish and a Black & White cookie. But, I imagined my friend telling me that I was a fatty, so I chose only the Danish. Later that morning, I passed out at a Walgreens waiting for a prescription and was taken to another hospital. It turns out my blood sugar dropped so low due to not eating much, the loss of blood, and the Oxy. I told the doctor about passing on the Black & White cookie, and he said if I had eaten one it would have saved me a visit to the hospital. So now I have a life rule: Always eat a Black & White cookie if offered.
Sounds like a great story, and very true!
Thank you, Sean, for taking the time to reconnect with us. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!