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About Joel


I began to fall for literature in late high school at about the time I finally acknowledged I wasn’t going to play in the NBA. It was a passing of the creativity baton. I immediately began to write, and write terribly.

After graduating college with English and History degrees, two of my brothers and I started a business. We still own and run it today, though I reduced my role to focus on writing.

I am on track to graduate from the University of Nebraska Omaha Creative Writing MFA July 2019.

I write short stories and novels.

I live in Kansas City with my wife and three children.

Joel Clay

Why I Write

Studying human nature as a wide-eyed layman has taught me, above all, that I’m ignorant. In the last lines of Denis Johnson’s “Car Crash While Hitchhiking,” the damaged, lost, high narrator is in a hospital room when he steps into metafiction mode and says to his expecting-an-epiphany reader: “It was raining. Gigantic ferns leaned over us. The forest drifted down a hill. And you, you ridiculous people, expect me to help you.” I feel that when I write; that I’m the one who needs the help. Reading and writing, for me, is an exploration and a search for guidance, one that I hope ultimately benefits others.


Humans are ridiculous, beautiful, predictably surprising creatures.

I find the moments people change, even if ever so slightly, fascinating.

I find the relationship between human psychology and human behavior fascinating.

Thinking, reading, and writing about people touches an essential chord in me. I find writing torturous, but the completion of a work I can stand, at least momentarily, provides me a euphoric sense of purpose.

But who knows why we write?

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