Monday, November 5, 2012

Blue-collar to white-collar: Now a writer, once a hauler

By Thomas Nugent

Texas State alumni Fred Afflerbach spoke about his life as a trucker and his shift into becoming a writer on Tuesday as a part of Mass Comm Week.

Afflerbach opened his speech wearing a Texas State Bobcat baseball cap and spoke about how he used to be a student at the university. “Only then it was called Southwest Texas State,” said Afflerbach.

He explained how he left the university after a few semesters to work for a trucking company. Afflerbach said, “I worked my way up from smaller trucks, to bigger trucks and finally tractor-trailers.”

Once he owned his own tractor-trailer, he set out to do work all across the U.S. He spanned 48 states and the border into Canada, all while living out of his truck.

Afflerbach aspired to lead this lifestyle because he wanted to emulate the vivacity and independence of the trucker community that he referred to as “folk heroes.” He said, “These truckers, they had a wanderlust.”

His first publication about his experiences of the open road was written in attempt to win a Mark Twain essay contest in a trucker tabloid.

After many years traveling across the U.S., Afflerbach took a break from the road and became the owner-operator of a small trucking company based in Austin.

He later re-enrolled in school, first doing night classes at Austin Community College, and then back at Texas State University. It was at Texas State that he received a dual degree in English and journalism in 2007.

While attending school, Afflerbach wrote for the University Star and later had columns published in the San Antonio Express News and Ft. Worth Star Telegram.
Afflerbach being animated as a part of storytelling.

Afflerbach said, “I wasn’t going anywhere in newspaper” and decided to write a novel “out of desperation.” He is now the author of the novel "Roll On", which is a work of fiction that is loosely autobiographical of Afflerbach’s life on the road as a long-haul trucker.

“Coming back to Texas State in my 40s is one of the biggest reasons why I was able to go on and write a story like ['Roll On'],” said Afflerbach.

The students who attended the session were not only inspired, but also well informed by Afflerbach’s speech.

Christina Cantu, senior journalism major, said, “Afflerbach was eloquent in his storytelling process. I like how he called the truckers ‘Knights of the Highway.’”

Glen Tadych, senior journalism major, said, “I like how [Afflerbach] said ‘storytelling is a skill that takes development.’ You have to have the right technique to convey stories to others. That’s what I’m learning now, so I can relate.”

Afflerbach resides in Cedar Park and currently works in the public schools system.

No comments: