This is the blog of Amy Weldon, Professor of English at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

An Alabama farm girl by raising, I have a Ph.D in nineteenth-century British literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m the author of The Hands-On Life: How to Wake Yourself Up and Save the World (Cascade Books, 2018) and The Writer’s Eye: Observation and Inspiration for Creative Writers (Bloomsbury, 2018). Among other things, I’m writing a novel, Creature, based on the life of Mary Shelley.

At Luther, I teach British Romanticism, contemporary literature, Paideia (Luther’s first-year common course), and creative writing. My essays have appeared or are forthcoming in edited collections including Engaging the Eighteenth Century: Public Spaces and Digital Places for Literary Historians (University of Iowa Press, 2018), Teaching the Works of Eudora Welty: Twenty-first Century Approaches (University Press of Mississippi, 2018), Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America (Ice Cube Press, 2016), William Faulkner: Critical Perspectives (Salem Press, 2013), The Best Travel Writing 2012 (Solas Press), and Cornbread Nation: The Best of Southern Food Writing, Vol. 2 (UNC Press, 2010). Other short fiction, creative nonfiction, and scholarly work appear in Orion, The Common, Midwestern Gothic, Bloom, The Millions, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Carolina Quarterly, The Mississippi QuarterlyThumbnail, and Inch, among others, with book reviews in Orion and Keats-Shelley Journal, among others, and a column for the Chronicle of Higher Education on recommendation letters. I am a former Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference and a participant in the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and the Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers Conference.

In 2011, I finished paying off $50,000 of consumer debt (credit cards and car.) This blog charts my ongoing journey through matters of spirit, sustainability, and self-reliance.

These are some of my favorite quotes:

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.  But the tumult soon subsides.  Time makes more converts than reason.” — Thomas Paine, “Common Sense”

“Call a thing immoral or ugly, soul-destroying or a degradation of man, a peril to the peace of the world or to the well-being of future generations; as long as you have not shown it to be ‘uneconomic,’ you have not really questioned its right to exist, grow, and prosper.” – E. F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered (1973)

“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” – Jane Addams

“Justice is what love looks like in public.” — Cornel West

“Reality—if we use that word to indicate real life, and the way things really are— should always be viewed as a sheet of ice beneath which we, the writers (with our readers in tow) are swimming, trying constantly to punch through, so that we can breathe.” – Rick Bass, “Danger”

“The function of freedom is to free someone else.” — Toni Morrison

“Through the years, I have learned that there is no harm in charging oneself up with delusions between moments of valid inspiration.” — Steve Martin

“To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause within our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wildness lives by this same grace.” — Terry Tempest Williams

“We know that science and art can be allies. We need far more women in politics. We need a religious view that embraces nature and does not fear science; business leaders who know and accept ecological and spiritual limits; political leaders who have spent time working in schools, factories, or farms and who still write poems. We need intellectual and academic leaders who have studied both history and ecology, and like to dance and cook. We need poets and novelists who pay no attention to literary critics. But what we ultiimately need most is human beings who love the world.” — Gary Snyder

“[I do] not suggest that we can live harmlessly, or strictly at our own expense; we depend upon other creatures and survive by their deaths. To live we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.” — Wendell Berry

Thanks, y’all, for taking the time to read my work.

11 Responses to About

  1. This sounds like just the blog I need to read on a regular basis. I’m also a professor at a university and writer. Recently singled after a 15-year relationship, I’m struggling with money, singlehood, and the idea that I’m not visible to mainstream America.

  2. How come i just started reading this blog?

  3. driftlessperiphery says:


    I got happily lost in your blog today. And it (along with the Anne Lamott I’ve been inhaling) inspired me to ramp up and begin the daily process of sitting down at the notebook or machine, the practice I’ve been preaching to myself about for more than a year. So I’m doing it– off I venture into the blogosphere naked and giddy. This journey of motherhood and humanbeingness has got to have a few good stories in it, right?

    For the wild,

  4. Debra says:

    I read your story “Traveling to Mary” in the 2012″The Best Travel Writing Volume 9″ and that prompted me to find your blog. I would like to get a copy of this story to inspire my young niece in the future to be a “woman of valor.”

    • Hi, there — Thank you so very much for writing and for seeking out the blog. You’re the first person other than my friends to tell me they’ve read “Traveling to Mary!” 🙂 I appreciate your kind note and hope the essay does inspire your niece to be all she can dream of becoming.

  5. Susan says:

    It’s great to find you again, Amy! I’ll be sending you email. -slh

  6. Hi Amy,
    I hope you don’t mind this (I know that blog awards are not everyone’s cup of tea, so I feel a bit hesitant about passing this on) – but I just wanted to let you know that I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award; a token of my appreciation and enjoyment of your wonderful blog (which is always such a life-affirming and richly mindful port of call…)

    There is absolutely no obligation to participate, so please accept it as an honorary Liebster Award, if you’d prefer.

    However, if it sounds like a happy prospect to take part, the details are here:

    As I say, no pressure – I know time is so scarce for most folk… I’m just happy to have the chance to flag up your blog as a great place for others to discover – and to send my appreciation of your deeply insightful posts your way…

    All the very best,

  7. Stacy Ryan says:

    I just read your essay “Traveling to Mary” and thought it was fantastic! I can’t wait to read your blog posts as well.

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