Tom Elliott

Nonfiction

I've never been entirely happy that what I write is named in terms of what it is not – this is not fiction. Still, it inspires a useful note to post above the desk:

Find out what the thing really is. Work with that. Don’t be making stuff up.

Of course, it is easy to write on a sticky note “Find out what the thing really is.” The actual finding out is harder.

But if it were easy how much fun would it be?

 

 I was born in Detroit and raised in its suburbs. I live in Boston now, with my wife and two feral cats, who aren't nearly as ferocious as that sounds.  

I was drawn to science and technology as a boy, but good experiences with English and history in high school turned me towards the humanities. I enjoyed my undergraduate work in American History and Literature, and I went on to get a PhD., intending to teach college English and write poetry. I was just discovering how hard that was going to be when the phone rang. It was Gulf Oil, offering an editing job. So I got out of English and into oil, and thence into information technology and telecommunications, my professional home for nearly thirty years. 

I recently retired from Strategy Analytics, a market information and consulting firm. Most of SA's clients sell communications products and services; the firm advises them on the needs and wants of their business and consumer customers, the current and potential actions of their competitors, and the business implications of technology. 

This work, as I see it, is another branch of nonfiction. The goal is still to find out what the thing really is, and to discover a story within it that is both true and useful. 

I am grateful that my work allowed me to travel to places as diverse as Taiwan and Kansas. I don't think of myself as a travel writer, but I have found that interesting stories can come from looking hard enough at a place or a thing from enough different angles.  I am interested in using multiple disciplines – the natural sciences, popular culture, economics, history – to understand the richness of Moose Factory, Ontario, or the resonance of a simple word like “mister.” 

 

 


(C) Thomas R. Elliott 2013