Author Archives: Danny Pfaff

About Danny Pfaff

Ingredients: 1 Part Rust Cohle from "True Detective" 1 Part Michael Scott from "The Office" Bake for 22 years and the result is a conglomeration of confusion, terrible jokes, and an unyielding desire to unsuccessfully explain the human condition. Assembly still in progress.

The Story Thus Far

I’ve been repeatedly back-handed by University life. The transition to campus life is simple, because Northern Illinois Campus is easy to navigate and the people are mostly interesting and kind.The difficult part that warrants the back-hand is the sheer amount of work and papers that are due. You turn one in- two more appear. I want to build a time-machine and set the date to each first day of previous semesters for the sole purpose of slapping myself for believing that I could continuously get by with minimal effort. Procrastinators beware: Junior and Senior level work is the real deal.

The English/Writing content is what we are here for, though.

The first week of school consisted of more of the same. I sat in my desk with my head heavy in my hand and my eyes wandered everywhere except towards the teacher. Other bubbly students sat close by and offered their input at the teachers questions, and I would occasionally chime in to get my participation points for the day. I expected to keep this up for the entire semester. And then we started writing.

A strange thing happened; I realized my writing lagged behind the others. This epiphany occurred during a workshop (if you think you workshop in class a lot now, LOL) and I noticed my intellect mirrored the others, but my presentation paled in comparison. Example: I just used the cliche ‘paled in comparison’ and this would widely be considered as a bad move. The other students pointed that tendency out to me. I agreed.

Each successive week became easier. My head no longer rested on my hand and I trained my eyes on the teacher. I learned to cut out weak verbs. You’ll realize the last two paragraphs of this post proved easier to read than the first. I removed all of the ‘to be’ verbs (was, is, am, were, etc.) So we exiled the weak verbs. The class focus then moved to emphasis.  This practice promotes ending each sentence with the word you want the reader to hear the loudest. The lingering effect of a sentence lies with its last word. For creative writers, practice ending sentences on strong verbs, adjectives, or nominalizations.

This has been the story so far. Aside from the aforementioned writing tips, the most significant thing I learned so far has come from a humbling moment and self-reflecting. The first workshop burst my complacency. You may not all be like me, but the lesson certainly applies; listen to your peers and teachers. They are in that shared room for a reason.

Until next time, (a cliche I’ll allow myself)



Origin Story: Danny

Act I: Maiden Voyage (ages 0-12)

The story starts in a small town in the Illinois Valley (remains there) and begins with a wide-eyed, quite enormous (9 pounds and 10 ounces) baby fascinated by all things human. The first obsession that I can remember having is with firetrucks and fire-fighters. That probably explains why I was a fire-fighter for Halloween for my first few attempts.

Obsession #2: Profound love for baseball (Go Cubs Go) and a strong inclination to play with Lincoln Logs and Tonka Trucks. Admittedly, there was an even stronger inclination to destroy the happiness of my three sisters (two older, one younger), but that’s off the record.

Act II: Teenage Angst (13-19, probably 20 and 21, also)

Fluctuations in voice pitch: Plentiful (Embarrassment included)

Attention to life’s perils/enormity of existence: Life’s what?

Emotional stability: ???

This was a defining period, with a plethora of changing interests and activities that often painted a blurry picture on the shifting canvas as to what life is, or at least what I was told it should be. I donned many hats during this period. I wanted to be a history teacher, a paramedic/firefighter, even did a semester where I thought I was going to be an Anthropologist. In short, I was certain of what I was going to be many different times, so in reality I had no idea what I was going to do.

Act III: Adulting and everything else considered (20.5 and beyond)

This has been the best part of my life. And it is also the reason why this blog from me exists. It started with an innocent Creative Writing class, took out of minimal interest. It’s quite comical that the one class that I had little joy (before the class started, that is) in taking was the one that ignited not an interest, but a deep passion for raw imagination. An imagination that I never knew I had that stemmed from something I had always been decent at, but never gave a second thought; Writing.

To this day, it is still the most important class I have ever been apart of.

This is where my allegiance lies, and it is what I am going to be pursuing at NIU. Well, my major is technically an English major in Writing Studies, with an emphasis in Creative Writing, but it’s all the same. Any type of writing is and should be creative. It should be visceral. It also allows me to wear any hat I want, which is important for a guy who invests in so many different types of hats.

So, readers, what you can expect from me is a shared experience in my travels from an uncertain IVCC student, to an immeasurably excited writing major at NIU. Hopefully we both learn useful things along the way, and quite possibly help an undecided person find what type of hat they want to wear.