It's amazing how many people say they once dreamed of being a writer. In college, everyone seems to harbor the aspiration -- even the jocks and engineering majors. And most people never lose the yen.
- Jonathon Reilly
Middle school history teacher
What do you write? I write a handful of letters to the editor every year, and I like to write essays and social commentary on issues and events -- strictly for myself to clarify my thinking.
Name a book that significantly affected your life. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, A Passage to India and The Heart of Darkness. They opened up parts of the human psyche I'd only vaguely known about.
Would you rather be a primo novelist, soccer player or saxophonist? A saxophonist like John Coltrane or Charlie Parker. I love the sax, and I love great jazz.
If you got to choose, which writer would you be? Frankly, I wouldn't want to be most of the writers I admire. I love J.D. Salinger, but I wouldn't want to be him. Or Charlie Parker.
Is there a writer you can't stand? Robert James Waller. I listened to a tape of The Bridges of Madison County one time in the car and considered running into a wall to make it stop.
- Richard Van Scotter
Richard Van Scotter
What do you write? I've written several books, including Public Schooling in America, Social Foundations of Education and What Citizens Need to Know About Economics. I've also written a slew of articles on education, economics and ethics in journalism.
Would you rather be a great author, athlete or musician? I love the introspection and storytelling of writing, but there's an irresistible elegance and beauty to athletics. I would have given anything and sacrificed 10 years of my life to play the outfield in Fenway Park [the Boston Red Sox baseball stadium].
Is there a writer you can't stand? I'd say Rush Limbaugh, except there's no way he's a writer. How about Cal Thomas? Or William Buckley because he's so snotty and arrogant?
- Tris Coffin
Hood: Ann Arbor
Retired physics professor
What do you write? I began keeping a journal when I noticed my memory slipping. Nothing emotional -- just facts and events. I've also published lots of professional articles.
Would you rather be a great novelist, athlete or musician? Thoughts don't flow easily for me. I'd rather play tennis or the banjo.
How many books do you own? Thousands, including tons of mysteries and popular science.
- Dean Black
Maker of carbon monoxide detectors
What do you write? I keep a daily journal that mixes poetry, song lyrics, I-Ching readings and interesting ideas that come up in conversation.
If you had to choose, what writer would you be? Stephen King. He comes up with such cool ideas. Even his cheesy ideas have interesting twists.
How many books do you own? Books take up most of the space whenever I pack to move.