Alan Weber has been writing since he was five. In his late teens and early twenties, he was focused on two genres: political essays and poetry. For the former, he wrote a rather scandalous full-page column for his college newspaper. As to the latter, he began doing poetry readings around the Greenwich Village area of New York and had a few of his poems published in various collections.
Having earned a graduate degree in Early Childhood Education, he began a career in the field, moving from teacher to administrator to teacher educator, spanning the last forty years. During that time he continued to write with constancy; he can’t help himself. But most of his writing was now directed toward his field: articles and letters in newspapers, materials for his college students, etc. His poetry became more infrequent, and there just wasn’t enough time or energy to continue “being a writer.” He was, however, ultimately successful in gaining a little notoriety for “The Misdirection of Modern American Education,” an article published in the prestigious Education Digest in the Spring of 2014.
By the time the article was published, Alan was semi-retired, continuing to teach one college class a semester, but, otherwise, focused finally on becoming “a writer who teaches” rather than “a teacher who writes.” He needed to test himself to see if he had the self-discipline and skill to write an actual book. He had started sort of a memoir three decades prior, but hadn’t gotten very far, and any thoughts of picking it up again were quickly dismissed once the demands of college teaching took over, and, perhaps, the realization that he hadn’t yet lived enough to write about set in.
But in 2013 he published Integrating the Chapters of a Life, albeit under a pseudonym, Allen Roth (in an homage to Woody Allen and Philip Roth, whose spirit and style he thought it most embodied), so that impressionable and nosy students might not discover more about him than he cared to share. The book was never really expected to be a commercial success. It was more that it had to be done before he was free to explore other avenues for his writing, although it did receive some very positive reviews, and does showcase some of the range and depth, humor and flair of his writing. Now, with time on his hands and more confidence that he could be an actual author, Alan began to think about his next project.
He had many ideas, but one soon emerged from the lot. As a lifelong anti-war activist as well as child advocate, he had wanted to write something for children on the difficult subject of war. And as someone who had taught children’s literature, he had become aware that although previous attempts had been made, notably even by Dr. Seuss, they were essentially too allegorical, thereby too abstract, for children’s true connection and comprehension. So, taking a more experiential approach, shortly after the publication of his first book, he wrote the text for Not for Hurting. After finally finding an illustrator, the first book under his own name was published a year after his initial one.
Ideas and urges battled for his attention. While he believed himself a writer of some talent, he didn’t trust that he had either the ability or the following as yet to write a really good novel with anything short of a big idea. As he was trying to market Not for Hurting, that idea came to him in the form of The Wedge. He had always wanted to write allegory, perhaps something in the realm of science fiction, his favorite reading genre. But lacking the necessary scientific knowledge to write anything beyond “cowboy” fantasy, he fell back on politics, his undergraduate major and such a defining aspect of his adult life. He had never dabbled in fiction before, in dialogue or character development, but he found what he felt was his truest writer’s voice and greatest creative fulfillment in the process of writing the novel. And he was really proud of the finished product. Unfortunately, less than a year after publication, the Donald Trump phenomenon came along and essentially stole the book’s central themes. So now the book, described by one reader as “prescient,” will be seen as just a typical critique. It is truly sad that people didn’t read the book before electing this nightmare.
It took a while for Alan to come up with another “big idea,” but eventually another one came to him, one whose catalyst was more personal, his son. “Tricks of Mind and Matter” wrapped itself up short of novel length, a novella which further challenged his creativity and desire for growth. He now had one work written in the second person, one in the third, and one in the first. He submitted it to a number of publications and contests, but with no luck. Though fond of it, as he has been with each successive work, he finally put it behind him and moved on to the long-delayed book on early childhood education that would be his legacy and probably most marketable book. He entitled it Teaching Young Children: The Science, The Art and The Heart, and made it through the first hundred pages (of what would probably be well over a thousand). But despite the ease of writing it, since it is pretty much straight out of a quarter century of very familiar lecture notes, it began to feel tiresome, too much like work. He had been playing with an idea for another short story, but in Googling the premise he discovered it, unintentionally, bore too much resemblance to a classic piece of science fiction, “The Lathe of Heaven,” which is why he continued working on the education book… until one day an idea for another approach to the story he still had in mind came to him. At that point he once again put the education book on the back burner and jumped back into fiction.
As of this writing, “Evitability in Layers” is nearing completion. When it is finished, Alan intends on combining it with “Tricks of Mind and Matter” and publishing them together under the title Alternate Dementias: Two Stories of Parapsychological Possibilities. He’s excited by the, well, possibilities.
Having averaged almost a book a year, Alan looks forward to, hopefully, many more works and self-discoveries, although not so much the marketing efforts that accompany them. But this website might be fun. And along with those self-discoveries, he can’t help but hope to be “discovered” by others. Oh, since this is supposed to be “about the author,” Alan was born in the Bronx, and now lives on Long Island, with his son half the time and his new fiancee. He is anticipating both the sadness of empty nest syndrome and the promise of moving to a place where he might feel more of a sense of belonging, once Woodstock, maybe Ithaca, now most likely Rosendale. To be continued….