Welcome to my site! I am Jonathan Erdman, a writer and a nomadic wanderer. I spend my summers working and living in the beautiful, remote mountain community of McCarthy, Alaska. Winters take me to the Santa Cruz Mountains, in northern California, where I write, hike in the redwoods, spend time with family, and organize with DSA activists (Democratic Socialists of America).
I am an essayist, novelist, and blogger. My writing tends to meander into explorations of the following themes: American culture, the human condition, nature & place, socialism & capitalism, politics. My prefered approach to writing is humor, usually dry humor, a little quirky and off beat. My writing also explores religion and mediation. I grew up in the conservative Midwest, as an Evangelical, and although I no longer belong to a religion, I am still deeply interested in spiritual and theological discussions.
I have three writing projects in process right now. The first is a novel set in Alaska. That’s my primary project, drawing on my experiences living and working in Alaska. I explore much about Alaska, but in a greater sense the novel is about people displaced, folks who work seasonal jobs and have no permanent address. It’s a book about those who shun the stability of American life and decide to live a transient life that allows them to go places and do things that conventional life denies.
I’m also investing most of my writing energy into a book-length nonfiction project exploring the power of stories and narratives to shape our lives, our culture, and our world. What is the greater “American story” that we find ourselves caught up in? And more to the point: is there a better one out there? Given the turbulent times in our culture, is there a new narrative that America could use as a better way forward? Although it is a book exploring big ideas, my writing is memoir-based. I walk through my own life and journey, from rubbing shoulders with activists at Occupy L.A. to the serene landscapes of Alaska to a seven-month volunteer stint on the African continent.
I also share stories and ideas on this website. I started blogging nearly twenty years ago, back when the Internet was more of an anarchistic conglomeration of chaotic creativity. My approach to blogging continues to be from the old school.
In these days, where the Internet is viewed primarily as a money machine, blogs seem to me highly commodified, forced to play by the stifling rules of consumerism. Blogs must be themed, we are told, you must be connected to Instagram, you have to blog a certain number of times (like everyday), we must use numbered lists as much as possible (not prose, because lists are so catchy and easy to read) — and if you observe these (and other) rules of the commodified Internet, the payoff is that your blog can be “monetized.”
But I don’t want a consumerized website. I prefer the old approach, which is sort of like going fishing. You cast your line and see who bites. The goal is less about getting hits and more about just being there. So I write prose. I leave things open-ended, from day to day. I want to see where the spirit leads, so to speak, to create a space online where my imagination can roam, free range. I go for months at a time without much to say, and if I don’t have much to write, then I don’t. Then there are times when I have more to say than I can get down on paper and put up on the blog.
Such is the writers’ life, and I hope that it reflected on my blog, in some small way, and in all of my writing.
And thank you for taking the time to visit my site.
Jonathan Erdman, May 2018