A Writer's Room

The workspace of teacher and author Thomas Fasano reveals an old-fashioned writer at work.
Thomas Fasano's officeIn what used to be a children’s bedroom, Fasano sits at his desk for hours writing with manual tools — no computer needed.

Thomas Fasano is an old-fashioned guy, and stepping into his home office is like stepping back in time, perhaps like visiting an old C.P.A. who still uses ledgers and adding machines. The office is in the back of the home where he has lived with his wife, Sandy, for the past eleven years. Among his most cherished items are a wooden desk (he built it himself from his own design), a wooden file cabinet, an antique typewriter table with an IBM Selectric II typewriter sitting atop it, several wooden bookcases (he built these too), and a huge corkboard on which he outlines his writing by pinning and arranging index cards. Here Fasano writes the old-fashioned way: in longhand with a fountain pen, on legal pads. Later, he types up his drafts on the IBM. The first few drafts of his writing never see a computer.

We at Coyote Canyon Press will soon be publishing a fairly comprehensive grammar book by Mr. Fasano, English Grammar Review: a Handbook for Writers. “It’s a look at the traditional model of grammar,” says Fasano on a recent Sunday afternoon. “I’m a teacher, and most of the teachers I know who teach grammar teach the traditional model, which isn’t a modern grammar at all, that’s for sure, but it’s what everyone teaches. So I thought I’d write a book that explored this antiquated approach and codified it in some useful way.”

When asked about the book’s intended audience, “Writers,” he says, picking up one of his many fountain pens and turning up the volume on a Beethoven piano sonata. “Just what the subtitle says — “I teach writing. Shouldn’t I write too?”writers, especially student writers. They’re the ones who will benefit most from a handbook like this. I wish I had a book like it when I was a student. It would’ve clarified several aspects of language for me. You must be able to understand the shape of all the pieces in order to fit them together.”

As for future projects, he doesn’t like to talk too much about them for fear of jinxing them. “But you can bet,” he says, “what I’m working on now is a book aimed at students. As you know, I’m a teacher, and I think a lot about my job and how to reach as many students as possible. It’s too easy to get locked into the same old classroom, teaching the some old classes, dealing with the same thing day in and day out. Years ago I realized I needed something more, that I had something more to give — that’s why I started writing. After all, I teach writing. Shouldn’t I write too?”

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