My own self-understanding is my chief credential as a writer of, both, non-fiction and fiction. The honesty I try to bring to making sense of my life, informs and enriches my writing.
I was an Episcopal priest for 16 years. I'm no longer an orthodox believer - but, I value the 'reason' and clarity with which that church determines and expresses its beliefs. Their humanistic approach to pastoral care and their advocacy of human rights and peace continue to influence my thinking and my writing. One memory, in particular - an assignment in seminary - continues to resonate. Professor Robert Hood once asked us to write an essay on human nature that involved no assumptions - theological or otherwise. Thanks, Dr. Hood - my book, The Best Way To Live, is an expanded version of that homework assignment.
I'm very observant, quite introverted, shamelessly sentimental, and extremely reflective. I can't let go of an experience (happy or not so happy) until I figure it out. For me, that 'figuring' always involves language - either talking (with myself or, frequently, my wife) or writing about it.
My fiction always involves characters and situations that make me feel something. I try to develop a scene until I find myself angry or thrilled or (yes) in tears - then, it's real and worth keeping. I love unexpected heroes, turning the tables, and finding virtue and brilliance in the seemingly ordinary person.
The love and understanding of my children, my family and dear friends are, for me, absolute grace. My wife, Nancy, is, simply, my very favorite person on the planet. Thus, she bears the burden of listening to my ideas - 'Thank you, Nancy.' These days I teach American History at the School of the Arts in Rochester, NY. Most of my students are talented and energetic - many are poor and disadvantaged. They've helped me strive for authenticity in teaching and writing.
Without deliberate intention, my interest in 'things religious' has been replaced by an eclectic assortment of stoicism, buddhism, history, literature, and William Shakespeare. Writing a 'bio' is a peculiar enterprise. But, I suppose, on my best days I hope I'm a ferocious defender of the individual - and, each person's right and responsibility to live according to the ideas learned from their own life experience. Wow, that sounds pretty good, doesn't it? More to the point, I simply hope that I keep learning and growing - and becoming a better writer.
Where to find Randall Laird online
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By Randall Laird
Published: February 16, 2013.
It's 1984. Candidates are talking politics and religion, evangelists are preaching family values - and, the most popular and sensationally advertised condom in America is made in a conservative western New York village. When a local minister stages a protest at the plant, Glory, NY becomes the site of a national 'faith vs secularism' showdown, dividing residents and inviting tragedy.
The Best Way To Live: Forging and following your own philosophy
By Randall Laird
Published: August 28, 2012.
Most of us move through the day seeking what we want - our sense of well-being dependent, largely, on forces beyond our control. That's not the best way to live. You already possess valuable life lessons, learned from experiences of loss. Those lessons can become the basis of a personal, proactive philosophy. You can learn to live according to what you know. That's the best way to live
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