SDSU Writers’ Conference Success Story – Robert Hoffman

Robert Hoffman

Robert Hoffman signing books at Comic-Con

Robert Hoffman was raised in Japan for four years and then grew up in Redondo Beach, CA. He was involved in theater work from the ages from 11 to 19 –“I’ve always found a way to find some limelight, either through entertainment or as a guitarist, though good, I’d consider myself a novice,” he adds.

After raising four kids Hoffman went to school at age 30 (1991). It was in an English class that his teacher mentioned that writing was an art. He says, “I took time to explore that idea and finally decided to pursue writing as a career. In 2005 I finalized my explorations by committing to a master’s program in the state of Washington. This required finishing my AA, BS (communication), and in 2010 started a double master’s program at NILA (Northwest Institute of Literary Arts). Today, I’ve completed all my courses and am months away from finishing the two thesis’ requirements.”

Hoffman supported his family as a restaurateur and customer service worker. He’s held many posts and jobs (including insurance sales and extermination).The most fun he had in a job was working for the casino industry in advertising and marketing and then gambling it all away to be a poker dealer. “I vacillate between pride and embarrassment at these various jobs. In the end, however, I saw that my not wanting to be pegged down to a specific job for the rest of my days led me to free up space to become an expert at some form of art. Being a guitarist was a strong possibility. I produced a 12-song demo, but I chose writing instead,” Hoffman adds.

Staying the course of responsibility to his family, while pursuing his passion, has given Hoffman perspective and experience that few can boast. He says, “As I’m nearing the master’s programs at NILA I marvel at just how wonderfully rich my life has been. I welcome it and the opportunities that will come my way in the future. I was 35 when I decided to write as a vocation. I figured if Michener could write to beyond 85, I’d like to be included in that group. I’ll never retire.”

Today, Hoffman has had 15 Shady Poems and a Love Sonnet published. It originally started as a joke comment, but he liked the idea. Hoffman took nearly three years of poetry courses and the book is a bit of a love letter to his wife of over 30 years. “I have others lined up that will follow the same format: 15 original poems of mine, one guest poet, and one dead poet’s work. Eventually, I will have about ten of these. This work is intended to stimulate poetry as an art by being entertaining, encouraging community, and creating dialog,”

Hoffman has attended the SDSU Writers’ Conference four times between 2000 and 2008. The conference encouraged him to continue his passion for writing. The conference also gave him the confidence in knowing publishing a book can be done. For those who might be intimidated about going to the conference, his advice do them is, “Relax, relax, relax. One of the best events to go to, in my opinion, is a writers’ conference; one of the worst events to attend is a writer’s conference. We put so much on the line in our arts it’s easy to get wound up and aggressive with ourselves, if not our neighborly writers. That said, most writers know the learning curve and are sympathetic. After my first two conferences I was so wound tight I could’ve been shattered by an Angry Bird. I knew things had to change so I told myself to think of the conference as a playground blacktop. I could play at and do anything I wanted to do. I could play half-court basketball, or foursquare, or the jungle gym – and if I wanted to get serious, I could go to coach to get extra training on football. It was play time after that and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them. Where else can you go and actually have a bar brawl over where possessive commas go? I love it.”

The attention to all aspects of a writer’s toolbox is one of the reasons that many choose SDSU’s Writers’ Conference. Hoffman states, “I can’t think of one presentation where I walked away disappointed. The instructors were knowledgeable and in the business, be it writer, editor, or publisher. The location is a sweet plus and the attendees that are attracted to the conference are keen to learn. You could be standing in a line and have a conversation of a master’s level quality. Though there are other conferences, this one stands out as a top-notch product. I’m proud to say I’ve gone.”