Joel Burnham is one of the most interesting and enjoyable people to have a conversation with. Joel has literally lived and travelled all over this planet as part of his employment. Along with his family, he has kind of been everywhere and done everything. He’s a great guy….hope you enjoy his thoughts….Thanks Joel!
What do you do?
Soon-to-be-retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, Russian/Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian Linguist.
What is your current “creative outlet”? What creative things are you working on or thinking about?
Currently, I’m working on my master’s thesis, which will be a comparative study of the Russian Federation’s conscript military structure (a failure in nearly ever aspect), with the American voluntary system, and the strength (and unexpected success) of the Non-Commissioned Officer corps.
Assuming all goes well with the thesis, I would like to pursue a book idea I’ve had involving young, disgruntled Russian soldiers stationed at a plutonium storage facility in Siberia, turning a blind eye (for a price) as Chechen separatists quietly invade the facility and look to walk away with several canisters of weapons grade plutonium… One lone principled soldier, mercilessly hazed by his comrades for his integrity and moral code, stands in the way of the dawning of the age of nuclear terrorism. Hijinks ensue…
How has your view of your own creativity changed over time? Have you always considered yourself “the creative type”?
While I’ve always enjoyed writing, I just assumed my creative talent rested elsewhere. There have been failed attempts in various art mediums, which include a particularly low point involving an idea for a chess set that never progressed beyond about 30 minutes of hacking away at a now blood-stained $25 block of mahogany. It wasn’t until I started grad school that I realized there are people (aside from my wife, of course) who actually enjoy my writing style. Sorry Dear, you were right!
When do you feel the most or least creative?
Quiet is the key to creativity for me, along with a comfortable, clean space in which to work. With six kids in a four bedroom house, that might explain why creativity has eluded me for so long. Additionally, when I have taken care of the needs of my family, I can relax (guiltless) and really let the creative juices flow… it can get a little messy, not unlike eating a grapefruit using only your feet.
What stifles your creativity?
Overeating, college football, Facebook, lawn care, global warming, North Korea, and Facebook… also, college football.