Faculty Friday: Jesse J. Holland ’12
Get to know Jesse J. Holland, M.F.A. ’12, adjunct lecturer in and alumnus of Goucher's M.F.A. in Nonfiction.
Our "Faculty Friday" series highlights one faculty member from the Welch Center every Friday. We ask these faculty members about their career, their work, and what they love about Goucher.
This week's faculty member:
Jesse J. Holland, M.F.A. ’12
Adjunct Lecturer, M.F.A. in Nonfiction
Race & Ethnicity Writer, Associated Press
Guest Host, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal
Journalism Professor, Georgetown University
Where are you from?
What excites you most about the field of nonfiction writing/journalism?
The thing that excites me the most about nonfiction writing is finding out about interesting, quirky, and sometimes hidden bits of life and history that we don't think about yet still make a significant impact on our modern life.
Tell us about your first job in the field, your first published piece, or a favorite piece of yours.
I usually tell people my first published book was Black Men Built the Capitol. But actually, my first published book was called Hippy and the Black Guy, which was a compilation of the daily cartoon strip of the same name, which was written by David Hitt, Lain Hughes, and myself for The Daily Mississippian, the college newspaper at Ole Miss. Of course, it was self-published by us using copy machines, staplers, and printing paper, but I have to say that I was absurdly proud of the final product. Even back then I was looking at race in modern society, i.e., at Ole Miss’ campus, and having a hell of a good time doing it. (Nowadays, I call what we were doing back then "hyper-reality." We were writing about what was happening racially and socially on campus and adding just enough to make it more absurd and funny. But many of the racial issues I wrote about back then actually happened.) That was the book that made me realize I might have a future at this whole writing thing.
What are you currently reading?
I got chance to meet Liza Mundy, who wrote Code Girls, so I’m reading her book. I’ve also started Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and The Last Black Unicorn, by Tiffany Haddish, a comedian I find hilarious. I also just finished reading Every Little Step, by Bobby Brown, a book I’ve been resisting reading for a long time. I gave up and read it recently, and it wasn’t bad.
What's the best advice you have ever received?
Just write. Most want-to-be writers fail because they are trying to write the perfect first chapter, and they write that chapter over and over, and never get around to writing chapter two. Writing is rewriting. Get it down on paper, and then make it better.
Tell us about a favorite hobby or passion of yours.
I read and collect comic books. I have hundreds, if not thousands, in my basement. And I still read them. Nowadays I pay for digital subscriptions to Marvel, DC, and Comixology, instead of buying the physical copies. But I still read comic books at the same rate as I did when I was a teenager. There’s something about that format and the tales of heroism and daring that appeals to me.
What's your favorite thing about Goucher’s nonfiction program?
My favorite thing about Goucher’s program is the community of writers that has developed over the years, people who all are focusing on the same thing: writing the best nonfiction and all striving to help each other move toward that goal!