Jen Wilson fell in love with teaching writing at the UVA Young Writer's Workshop during summers in college. After graduating from William and Mary, she felt the tug of Charlottesville's mountains and came back to the Blue Ridge to read kids' stories and learn to pick a banjo. She has worked with young writers everywhere from Chengdu, China, to her current teaching gig at the Field School in Crozet. When not writing, Jen can be found on a trail or Frisbee field somewhere nearby.
When did you first feel like a writer?
In middle school, I received a medal from an online poetry contest. Looking back on it, I think they may have given one to everyone who submitted, but at the time I felt like I had achieved something. I still use the medal as a paperweight on the poems that sit unfinished on my desk!
What’s your philosophy about teaching a writing class?
I think one of the keys to writing well is writing a lot. I usually have to produce a lot of writing before I find a piece that I really want to stick with. With young writers, I think it’s especially important for them to play around with styles that they haven’t tried. Young writers also need to hear about what’s working in their pieces so that they can begin to hone in on an individual style. Striking a balance between exploration and dedication to a particular piece are key.
If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Sherlock Holmes. I recently taught a unit on Detective Fiction and became fascinated by the myriad interpretations of the Sherlock Holmes character. I’d like to sit down with him and see which depiction fits best. Of course, I’d also like to see his skills of deduction in full swing!