While students were resting, relaxing and recharging over Christmas break, Professor Jack Lugar of AU’s communication and design arts department was busy writing yet another novel. While somehow managing to teach chaotic classrooms of college students full-time, Lugar, along with several other professors at AU, writes books and novels spanning a wide range of genres in his spare time.
“Writing books and teaching full-time is pretty challenging, but I have found that we choose to do with our time what we choose,” said Lugar. “So, a lot of times, I can make excuses and say I don’t have enough time. But I have found that I really have a few hours in the evening, or I can get up a little earlier and maximize my time and actually accomplish what I set out to do.”
For over a decade, Lugar worked as a television writer and producer in Los Angeles, writing material for everything from sitcoms to comedians. In 2016, Lugar joined full-time faculty at AU, teaching classes focused on cinema studies, screenwriting and storytelling.
According to Lugar, his schedule stays more than full year-round between the classroom, campus clubs and committees. Despite this, Lugar has written and published half a dozen books, ranging from stand-alone titles to series.
“My first two books were nonfiction books,” he said “After that, I spent my time writing three children’s novels. Now, currently, I am working on a series––a young adult series––about a young lady who discovers her connection to Norse mythology.”
Lugar explained that his series was originally intended to be focused on a much different topic. However, through Lugar’s writing process––deemed “pantsing” or “flying by the seat of your pants”––he found his way to a different plot.
“I’ve written the first book, ‘Sessi and the Gate to Hel,’” he said. “I’m currently in the process of finishing up ‘Sessi and the Race to Odin,’ and then I’ll probably put a third book on that series, but I’m not sure what it’s going to be called yet.”
Lugar explained that, for him, writing is more than a hobby––it is a necessity.
“I write because I have to,” he said. “I tell stories because I have to. There’s something inside me that wants to tell stories to create and to embrace that part of my humanity.”
For those who struggle with juggling a busy schedule and finding the time to write, Lugar offered some advice.
“We all have 24 hours in a day and we all marvel at that person that somehow gets more done in their 24 hours than anybody else,” he said. “My suggestion is for people who want to write but are feeling like they can’t––they don’t have time––the answer is just do it. Most things that we write the first time aren’t good. But they’re made to be rewritten or they lead us to something else, which we start to write better and better until we get to good.”
Another professor who enjoys immersing himself and his readers in fictitious worlds is Dr. Jason Parks of the English department. Despite not having a background in writing fiction, Parks recently published a full-length novel entitled “Wondercurrent.”
“I never studied creative writing––I had never taken courses in it,” said Parks. “It really hasn’t been my focus in any way from a professional standpoint. But I’ve always loved and enjoyed literature stories, and I’ve always had a desire to do it.”
Beginning with crafting fictitious tales for his four children, Parks’s skill for storytelling slowly evolved into writing a full-length novel.
“It was just storytelling to my kids at first––making up stories and just seeing how much they loved them,” he said. “It went from there to trying to write something longer and exploring different genres.”
Although Parks is new to being a creative writer, he explained that he commonly uses it as an exercise in the classroom.
“I’ve always loved it as a teaching tool,” he said. “I think creative writing is such a valuable way to explore things. I don’t care if you’re a creative writer or not––sitting down and trying to get inside of a story, engaging with it through creative ways, is important.”
For Parks, the secret to writing an entire novel is scheduling time to be fully engaged in the writing process.
“I think you have to commit to it, just like anything else,” said Parks. “If you’re not fully committed to the project, it won’t happen.”
To listen to the podcast, visit https://andersonian.com/2020/02/16/professor-juggles-booked-schedule/