Today, I welcome Dan Maurer to Writing Together. I met Dan recently through the radiant writer Rachel Pieh Jones. Dan is a writer of great energy, depth and dedication. His own story is powerful and he’s doing the important work of helping others tell their stories of transformation. Thanks for joining us today, Dan!
When did you start writing?
I began writing as a teenager in high school. I mostly wrote poetry. The dense, efficient power of words in poems intrigued me. Later on, I began writing prose, but only after I had become a Lutheran pastor. The exercise of writing weekly sermons and newsletter articles was a great weekly workout for my writing muscles. Only after I got in the habit of writing for work, I began to find interest in writing for therapy and pleasure.
After I fell hard in addiction and depression, I lost my job as a pastor. In retrospect, that wasn’t such a bad thing, because I didn’t want to be a pastor anymore. Through connections I had in the church, I had the opportunity to write some articles after I got sober for The Alban Institute and The Upper Room. Those opportunities, along with some freelancing I began to do for Sparkhouse and Amicus Publishing led me to begin doing this professionally. It’s hard work and it doesn’t pay anything near what writers deserve to get for their work, but I wouldn’t trade it for any other job. Writing is just so cool. I think it has to do with the nearly god-like aspect of creating. First, there is nothing. Then only ideas. Then they become reality. The creative aspect is so addicting. And that’s a much better addiction to have than chemicals.
Why did you write Sobriety as a graphic novel?
When I was at Hazelden rehab in Minnesota, my father had given me another graphic novel. It’s actually a New York Times bestseller titled Logicomix. Its topic, believe it or not, is Bertrand Russell’s attempt to prove the foundations of mathematics. Talk about a boring subject. Well, this book wasn’t boring at all. Through the power of comics, the authors tell a story. And story is where you grab people’s attention, because human beings are “storied creatures”—we understand the world through narrative. I began to think of a book using comic art to tell the story of recovery. Hazelden Publishing had the foresight to see the power of the book. Three years later, Sobriety: A Graphic Novel is a reality!
Tell us about your newest book.
I co-wrote Faraway: A Suburban Boy’s Story as a Victim of Sex Trafficking with a friend who shared his true story of being used as an underage hustler in 1975 St. Louis. It’s a very important story, because there are many books out there sharing girls’ stories, but this is the first ever, nationally distributed work relaying the problem of human trafficking from a boy’s perspective. I’m very excited for people to read the book, not only because it’s a great read, but also because this will bring the problem into a perspective others may have not known before.
What inspires you?
Really? Hmmm. That’s a tough one. I have a lot of interests. I suppose you could say I’m a bit of Renaissance man. Here are a few: books, writers (and the writing community – especially in the Twin Cities) and peoples’ transformative stories and stories of transformation. My non-fiction and freelance brand is Dan the Story Man and I share these things with others. I’d have to say that the larger community of writers and the virtual explosion of written works has been what has sustained me through these past years in my new-found life. Writers are very cool people, not just because they write; they’re interesting, because most of them have interesting stories themselves. I’m very grateful for my friendships and connections with other writing artists.
Daniel D. Maurer is a freelance writer and published author. He lives with his family in St. Paul, Minnesota. In his spare time, Dan enjoys gardening, reading, playing with his two boys, two cats and one dog. He also plays the bagpipes and can make a mean latté . . . but not at the same time. For more information, visit Dan at: http://www.danthestoryman.com.