Speaking of graduate school, how do you think your divinity studies have influenced your work?
I should specify a bit regarding my graduate studies. I was at the University of Chicago Divinity School reading the Philosophy of Religion, which is a specialized academic category of study which lies somewhere between theology and straight philosophy. I was not there to become a priest but an academic – a professor. That having been said, I was there to try to answer deep level questions of meaning that were gnawing at me. While these questions were not answered ultimately, as many of the most important cannot be until death, I did arrive at some satisfactory working answers.
It does seem to me that graduate school sharpened my mind, my analytic and my writing skills. It gave me the tools to root around in questions of meaning, and to read thick books. It wasn't my niche, ultimately, but it was an experience of deep exploration. It also gave me some big words to throw around. I am proud of the time I spent there, and still sit on the Divinity School's Visiting Committee.
Beyond that, any “influence” the prolonged discussion of metaphysical questions has had on my work is either self-evident in the work itself or is, frankly, irrelevant to public discussion of my current work. As Saul Bellow put it, “[the artist's] inwardness should be, deserves to be a secret about which nobody needs to get excited.”