Husky man with short brown hair and glasses

Steven Atwater

Steven Atwater was born to Margaret and James Atwater in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1974. The Atwaters were a blue-collar family, with James working construction and Margaret occasionally taking odd jobs to supplement the family's income.

The stress at home from the financial strain spurred Steven to escape into books from the public library. He buried himself in the novels of Zane Grey and other adventure writers. His home might be run-down, but Steven didn't care because he was racing down the plains, on the run from marauding Indians.

When he graduated from high school, Steven married his longtime girlfriend, Linda Ames. The young couple had two children within three years while Steven worked as a repairman. Steven had always dreamed of having the loving marriage his parents had but with more financial security. However, by the time he was thirty, Steven found himself not only worse off financially, but also fighting with his wife at an alarming rate.

Steven and Linda frequently argued about money. He was working overtime and taking on as much extra work as he could, but he also spent freely on scheme after scheme. Steven said it takes money to make money, but his plans never repaid their investment, and Linda grew tired of his promises that never amounted to anything. Their quarrels sometimes became violent. While they never actually struck each other, there were plenty of thrown plates and smashed knickknacks.

On his thirty-third birthday, Steven moved out. He drove north to Oxford, where a friend had found him a property maintenance job for a landlord with hundreds of rental units. In his first few months in Oxford, Steven spent all his time working or drinking. He kept a cooler in the back of his truck filled with beer iced down for quitting time.

The longer he worked as a maintenance man at the university-area apartments, the more Steven came to resent the privileged college students. He worked hard with only a broken marriage, estranged kids, and mounting debt to show for it. And then, on any given Monday morning, he'd have to go fix a sink where some drunken frat boy decided to cram the exhaust pipe from a Geo Metro down the garbage disposal.

One night at a bar, Steven met one of Oxford's local writers, Barry Hannah, and was impressed with what a tough, hard-working man he was. Steven was sure that the writers he admired in his youth must have lived the same way. Over the next few months, Steven cleaned up his drinking and regained his love for reading.

He began writing short stories, occasionally handing them out to people for criticism. Although few people in Oxford thought Steven had much pure talent, they couldn't deny his energy and work ethic, and he developed a reputation as a hard-working writer who might get lucky someday.

When he took a creative writing class at Ole Miss, Steven appreciated what he learned there, but his disdain for the college students kept getting in the way. What did these kids know about life? He was writing about the real world—things that mattered, not fraternity parties.

So, in 2015, Steven formed the Oxford Writers Circle as a place for more mature writers to discuss their work. At first, it was sparsely attended, but Steven kept at it, and eventually, the group swelled to maximum capacity. He had to place a limit on members, and new people could join only when an existing participant resigned.

Despite the local writing community's respect for him, Steven's list of published works is relatively short. A few of his stories have been published in small quarterlies and online. Recently, he compiled a collection of short stories and has been shopping it around to publishing companies.

 

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