Dr. Matthew Hartman

I am an Assistant Professor of English at Ball State, where I have taught writing and literature since 2001. I am also currently the assistant director of the Indiana Writing Project. I earned my Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

I was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and grew up in Jackson, Michigan, home to Southern Michigan Prison as well as the lovely Cascades Falls. I have also lived for brief stints in central California, Appalachian Ohio, and western New York.

I am married to Pamela, who also teaches at Ball State, and have two daughters, ages 14 and 10. I love reading and writing and generally spend far too much of my time behind a keyboard. Five years ago I begun learning to play piano (another keyboard).

Random facts about me (Updated 8/15/11):

  • I ran a marathon in 2008. I probably won't run another one. (Nope. Haven't run another one.)
  • My first job (besides delivering papers and mowing lawns) was as a dish washer at Sbarro's. I lasted two weeks, then quit to work at Meijer, where I made 10 cents more an hour.
  • The last movie I saw in a theater was Avatar. (Crazy Stupid Love.)
  • I'm usually the first one up in the morning, but I'm not a morning person.

My freewriting from class (8/22/2011)


Freewriting today on the first day of class. Usually I do this in a notebook. It’s different to do it on the laptop, a little easier to keep up with my thoughts, since I can type faster than I can write with a pen. What. OK. I was going to say that it’s easier to keep track of my thoughts, but then my hands actually started going faster than my thoughts, and I ran out of things to say. Anyway, usually when I write on a computer, I write quite slowly. Because it’s so easy to change what I’ve written, I tend to edit a lot as I go. Sometimes I’ll overwork the writing, continually changing it, and that will stop the flow of the writing. It will actually block the flow of my thoughts. Here I’m not worried about how the writing sounds. I’m just trying to go with the flow, and think on “paper.”

Focused freewriting on a time when writing went badly

Last summer, I decide I was going to try writing poetry. I got a lot of books about how to write poetry and read through them for ideas. For some reason, I felt like I needed some instruction or guidance. I couldn’t just sit down and write a poem. The book that I relied on was one that focused on writing in traditional forms, writing in meter. So I tried writing a short poem in unrhymed iambic pentameter, which has five beats to a line. I wrote a poem about an experience I had visiting the house I group up in—standing on the street looking at the house and seeing someone inside through the screen door. I didn’t go up to the house or talk to anyone who lived there. I just stood out front and looked for a moment. It felt eerie seeing someone else in “my house,” imagining entire other lives taking place there. It’s kind of like when they replaced the older sister on Roseanne with that actress who was in Scrubs. She was good, but something just felt wrong. She was the wrong person, pretending to be someone else (that’s why they call it acting, I guess). Anyway, the poem. It didn’t go that great.

Comments on Freewriting

  1. I was a little self-conscious when I was doing the freewriting because I knew I was going to read it aloud. That caused me to lose focus for a moment, which is why I typed, "What. OK." But the feeling of freewriting prompted my thoughts here. I don't usually do it on the computer. Most of the writing I do on the computer is for work or email or whatever. I usually freewrite with a pen in a notebook. So it felt a little weird, but I like it.
  2. This focused freewriting is an example of how freewriting can lead you off onto tangents. I began writing about writing a poem last summer but ended up writing more about the experience the poem was about than about the writing experience. I just started thinking about that experience again and what it felt like, and I let my writing go there. Since this writing is just for me, it doesn't have to have a logical order, and I can always come back to what I started writing about--as I did at the end.

Examples of drafts from my own memoir piece

The zero draft is freewriting, just trying to remember the event and get words on paper.

In this "first draft," I tried to get do more showing and less telling, so that readers could feel as if they are experiencing the event.

As I continued to revise, I made the story a little longer, mostly by expanding what was there rather than adding new events. I also tried to make the writing more vivid and smoother.

Memoir Draft


Reflective Portfolio