Who is Andrew Winkel?

As a visitor from somewhere around the world, you have no way of knowing who I am and where I fit into this world that we both inhabit. This page seeks to give you some context.

I was raised in the same town where I live in rural Illinois in the United States of America. Whereas many youthful adventurers go off into the wide world to seek their fortunes, I, like many of the unstoried, stayed at home and raised my own family. Unlike most of the unstoried, I live on the same street where I was born in a house built by my grandfather.

In 1995, I married my wife, Milissa, and have four children, Alex, Bryan, Katherine, and Anna.

After attending Kankakee Community College, I transferred to Columbia College Chicago and graduated in 1996 with a liberal arts degree with a concentration in fiction writing. I learned that writers write and writing better usually involves some combination of reading and writing more. I graduated and immediately took a job loading trucks in a warehouse while also stocking produce shelves in a local big-box store, which is the writing equivalent to working at a coffee shop or being a server.

It didn’t take long at the warehouse before I found my way into an office job and decided that the corporate life was completely unmotivating. Watching the machinations of corporate politics, the Procrustean decision making, the Peter principle in action, I thought that maybe I should try my hand at teaching because then, at least, I would have summers to write (or not, as reality would later teach me). I attended Olivet Nazarene University’s teacher certification program which allowed me to earn a master’s degree with a cohort of like-minded adult learners. I graduated in 2001 and took a job with Bradley Elementary School District #61, where I’ve been ever since. As of this writing, I am a seventh-grade language arts teacher and manage to be both beloved and hated, a hero and a villain, someone’s favorite class and someone’s nightmare all at the same time.

Being a middle school teacher, it turns out, is excellent practice for public service, and I served my hometown as both a trustee and a mayor for a period totaling nine years. Balancing the demands on my time between the village and my family was challenging, and I chose not to run for a second term. On May 1, 2021, I entered a new era of life without any obligations beyond my main job as a middle school teacher and my family.

In 2011, I created Hierophantasm, my own publishing company, to self-publish two books, The Disappearance of Ichabod Crane and Raceboy and Super Qwok Adventures. Since then I’ve failed to produce or finish anything more, but once I have something, I’ll likely print it myself since I’m too impatient to go the route of sending my work to languish in slush piles for years on end; I have already demonstrated that I have the power to do that all by myself without requiring help from anyone else. Besides, I enjoy the design aspect of creating books and have finally hit a place in my life where I don’t desire world-wide acclaim or pray for that lightning-strike bestseller that will put my earnings on a collision course for the moon. I mean, that’d be nice, but I probably have a better chance playing scratch-off lottery tickets. So anything I do is really only to satisfy myself.

In this day and age, it may seem surprising the lack of social media integration on my site. Originally, I ignored Facebook as a fad. I could never fathom why anyone would want to follow my daily observations, and I never had the time to consume anyone else’s. Later, I rejected Facebook because it was a single ecosystem, and I hoped a developer would create a meta-social network that would allow interaction with all social networks from a single interface. By the time it became clear that no single meta social network interface was going to connect me to the many flavors of social network that existed, Facebook had become so ubiquitous and to be on Facebook so popular that my inner contrarian opposed Facebook as the domain of everyone who follows the crowd. Finally, I rationalized that avoiding Facebook allows me to avoid any unintended consequences of being a public person (both a teacher and a public official) as well as save the time that I would otherwise spend in updating and reading Facebook posts. I can live vicariously through my wife’s Facebook if I choose, and so dwell at the periphery of awareness of other people’s news, if news is the right word for content shared through social media. Most recently, the over-reach of social media companies who have apparently solved the philosophical conundrum of what is “the truth” (the answer, by the way, is whatever the social media company chooses to be “the truth”) helps me feel confident that eschewing social media is the root of all happiness.

The closest thing I have to social media is a Goodreads account which I stopped updating in 2020 because I just can’t see why anyone really cares. I keep those lists for myself on notebook paper in my office like I used to thirty years ago.

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