No Joking Matter: How Greg Gildersleeve Uses Stories and Comics to Impact Others
By Greg Gildersleeve September 17, 2016
People enjoy comic books. That should come as no surprise. Most likely, you have read at least one at some point in your life. If you haven’t read one, you’ve probably seen the film adaptation1. For some, though, the enjoyment of reading the comic is not enough. Creating one is better.
“As a kid, I loved comic books. I became fascinated with the writing process: thinking up stories, describing them, deciding who said what,” said Greg Gildersleeve, a member of the UA Grantham University English Foundations Faculty.
UA Grantham had a chance to catch up with Gildersleeve, who was selling two of his published novels at the KC Comic Con, to learn more about his passion that inspired him early in life: writing.
“I started creating characters and writing stories when I was about 12. They were bad. Really bad. But the idea of writing stories, and inventing worlds and characters took hold. It was more appealing than anything else I could imagine myself doing,” Gildersleeve said.
Although, if you ask him if he envisioned himself publishing his own stories later in life, Gildersleeve will tell you that was not the case.
“I never thought I would publish my own books. All I wanted to do was write and let someone else take care of the other stuff. Six years ago, I joined a writer’s group, the Monday Night Writers. Nearly everyone in the group had self-published or planned to self-publish,” he said. “They encouraged me to give it a try.”
“Self-publishing has been liberating. Instead of going through the lengthy process of looking for an agent or a publisher, I get to decide when my book is ready to be published, to write it the way I want to write it, and to hire a cover artist and editor. I get to reap the rewards, but also take on all the risks. It’s been an invaluable experience,” he said.
Gildersleeve does not limit his knowledge of writing to his own personal benefit, though. He finds fulfillment in sharing what he has learned with his students. “I consider it an honor and a privilege to teach these courses,” he said. “I get to pass on what I’ve learned to students who will use their education to transform their lives. They may even transform the world.”
And Gildersleeve knows that writing goes far beyond telling stories.
“Writing is fundamental to every profession. Even those which do not appear to focus on writing require skills related to composition, self-expression and editing. I know that the field of criminal justice relies a great deal on writing,” he said. “My brother, a police officer, writes a report every time he goes on a call. As a Field Training Officer, he teaches junior officers how to write reports. Many of my students who are in the criminal justice field have discussed how writing applies to their jobs, as well.”
For his online degree students who do want to pursue a career in writing, Gildersleeve does have a word of advice:
“First, ask yourself why you really want to do this. If it’s because you expect to make a lot of money and get famous, do something else. While financial rewards and fame may come from writing, those shouldn’t be the primary reasons to write or publish,” he said.
Gildersleeve’s advice reflects his own personal beliefs about writing. He uses writing to make an impact on the people around him and envisions just how this impact can continue to reach more and more people. As you finish reading this very story, one more person has been impacted in some way through writing.
As Gildersleeve says, “Write because you have something to say. Write for the joy of it. Publish your work for the same reasons, and also because you can make a difference in others’ lives.”
Greg Gildersleeve joined UA Grantham as full-time English Teaching Faculty in 2013. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Missouri Western State University and his master’s degree in English from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Greg published his first novel, The Power Club, in 2013, and a novella, False Alarm, in 2015. He maintains a blog for writers called The Semi-Great Gildersleeve.