“The Good Life,” by Matthew Holden

Amongst a small subset of writers at Ball State University where I teach, my Introduction to Magazine class took on a legendary status. You can browse through some of the posts on this site and see which students survived my bootcamp, and which students avoided me yet ended up in this project. 

Matthew Holden is a survivor on J280.

What I most recall about the skinny, quiet sophomore was his ability to write. He didn’t say much and he didn’t contribute much in class, but he could put some words down on the page.

I decided rather quickly that he’d be one of my projects. I tried recruiting him into my projects, including The Invictus Writers Vol. 1, to no avail. I oftentimes compared him to another former student of mine, Darcie Duttweiler, who was an absolutely beautiful writer who decided to forge her own path.

This is another hard aspect of teaching: letting students find their own way. (Many years ago when my father was trying to guide me with his advice, I said to him: “Dad, you have to let me make my own mistakes.” I felt wise then. I do not feel wise when this wisdom comes back to me.)

Holden disappeared into the world of student media where he eventually became the editor at Ball Bearings, the university’s student magazine. He also studied abroad, spending time in England. By the time he came around for this project, I knew that he’d already carved his own path and I’d simply get to see the fruits of his labor.

You’ll read about that journey in “The Good Life,” where Matthew lays out those mistakes he made and the lessons he learned along the way. And he’s now in our graduate program at Ball State so there’s a chance that he’ll re-appear in the pages of the Invictus project. 

Whether he does, though, is irrelevant because he’s well on his way to discovering his voice and his story.