WriterHouse

Meet Our Instructors

Jeff KleinmanWhen did you first feel like a writer?

 

What is your philosophy about teaching a writing class?

If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be and why?

 

Jeanne Siler.jpgWhen did you first feel like a writer?

I first felt like a writer when my byline hit the front page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch; I was working as a stringer for the paper while in college in Williamsburg.

What's your philosophy about teaching a writing class?

Teachers of writing can only be guides and cheerleaders—writers teach themselves to write by writing.

If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be and why?

I would be delighted to meet Pippi Longstocking. Her zest for life, her curiosity and her energy inspired me years ago to become a “thing-finder.”

Amie WhittemoreWhen did you first feel like a writer?

Though I loved books from an early age, it wasn't until high school that my love of reading expanded to writing. Unpoetic but true, I began writing poems as part of a ninth grade English assignment and found I couldn't stop. However, it wasn't until graduate school that I felt like a writer—or a poet, more specifically. Being immersed in MFA culture was the first time that "being a poet" became part of who I was publicly. And, though it felt like a too-large dress the first few times I tried on the phrase, "I'm a poet," the more I did so, the more "being a poet" became my favorite outfit. In fact, I don't think I ever take it off.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Amie Whittemore

Joan MazzaWhen did you first feel like a writer?

I first felt like a writer as a young person, keeping a journal and writing out my feelings starting when I was twelve. Writing has been a source of self-understanding and exploration my whole life. I really felt like a writer when my first book was published in 1998.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Joan Mazza

Kyle DarganWhen did you first feel like a writer?

Well, being a writer is more of an approach to living than an identity for me. I actually don't like being introduced as a writer because it is often done in a manner that suggests I am different—significantly different—than other people because I write. Now, when did I first feel like I was beginning to live in the manner of one who writes? High school. That is when I first realized there was—to use a Thundercats reference—"sight beyond sight." Looking out on my environment of Newark, New Jersey, I saw what it expected of kids like me and I found myself contrasting that with how I felt and foresaw we could realize ourselves. Writing, at first, was an attempt to enter and articulate that strange interstitial space between those differing visions. Actually, that is what so much of my writing still obsesses over—the space between the assumed apparent and the relatively absurd, the tragic and the ironic, et cetera.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Kyle Dargan

doug nordfors newWhen did you first feel like a writer?

I'd like to say that it was when I was 5 or 6 years old, and I accompanied my mother, who was a poet, to a radio station in Seattle, where she gave a poetry reading. But I was far too engaged in the fact she was a writer to even begin to think of myself as a future one, though I certainly did feel some sense of mental connection with her even at that young age. I'm pretty sure it was much, much later, when I was a freshman at Columbia University, and I would spend hours deep underground in the stacks of Butler Library reading sample after sample from the big contemporary American poetry section. It was so peaceful down there, and the slim books seemed to be fully lit with significance in the half-dark. I just wanted to try to belong to all that in some small way.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Douglas Nordfors

Andrew MartinWhen did you first feel like a writer?

I started writing soon after I learned to read, and starting worrying about what I wrote not long after that. For me, that's what feeling like a writer is about—knowing that the choices you make on the page are going to have consequences for someone reading your work. Once I realized I could make my third grade class laugh, or, more importantly, make my younger sister cry, I felt like a writer.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Andrew Martin

Anne Marie PaceWhen did you first feel like a writer?

When I was in first grade, I wrote and illustrated a story about a boy on a sled, and I realized how much fun writing could be. That story, extensively revised, is actually coming out as a picture book from Henry Holt in 2016—without my illustrations. I am definitely a writer, NOT an illustrator.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Anne Marie Pace

Edward MWhen did you first feel like a writer?

Approaching the completion of my first novel. I couldn't bear to wait any longer to see how the book would turn out. I burned a week of (very precious) vacation time from the day job to speed the novel to its end. Every night that week I stayed up—however late it took—to finish a chapter. Every morning that week—often only a few hours after I'd turned in—I woke to the clatter of the dot-matrix printer, as my wife wouldn't wait to read what I'd just finished.

And then there was the day an editor called to make an offer on that book...

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Edward M. Lerner

Jay Varner SQ When did you first feel like a writer?

It was the first time I was published.  In college, I had taped all the rejection slips--dozens of them--to the wall by my computer.  And then a letter arrived that said the editors liked my little essay.  I'd always thought of myself as a writer, but this was the first time someone else agreed.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Jay Varner

When did you first feel like a writer?

Sharron Singleton SQI don't remember when I DIDN'T feel like a writer. That doesn't mean I've always written. It was not particularly acceptable when I was growing up in a small farming community in Michigan. It wasn't a sensible life plan, women especially didn't do it and one surely couldn't make a living at it. Nevertheless it was what I wanted to do. After many years of doing other things I came back to poetry later in life and finally feel like I found my vocation.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Sharron Singleton

Carl Rollyson SQWhen did you first feel like a writer?

I first felt like a writer when I began interviewing people for my first biography and realized it was the process of writing itself and of understanding other lives that I found more fascinating than any other work I had attempted.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Carl Rollyson

Michelle BrafmanWhen did you first feel like a writer?

I experienced my first inkling that I was a writer when I was working as a documentary producer. After an interview, I'd muse about what my subjects had repeated too often or what their silences revealed, and then I'd come home and write what I imagined to be their truths. It took me years to write a full story, though.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Michelle Brafman

Rebecca TaylorWhen did you first feel like a writer?

Soon after my sister was born, my mother gave me a notebook. I was three years old, the age where everything is a question; the world is marvelous, strange, and frightening (this may still be why I write). I had not yet learned to write words, but I still filled the pages of my notebook with scratches and shapes and the few letters I knew—the letters in my name and my sister's name.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Rebecca Taylor

Hannah BarnabyWhen did you first feel like a writer?

When I was in eighth grade, my English teacher accused me of plagiarism. I had turned in an essay (I confess, I can't remember what it was about), and he was sure that I had cheated because the quality was beyond his expectations. I finally convinced him that I had written it myself, and while the whole experience was kind of terrifying, it was also my first realization that writing could be so powerful, and that it could evoke such powerful responses. That was when I first felt like a writer. It was many more years, though, before I called myself a writer.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Hannah Barnaby

Brendan Wolfe NewWhen did you first feel like a writer?

November 12, 1999, at 4:45 p.m. More or less. I was sprawled out on the couch in my friend-slash-landlord's basement, mowing on Doritos (we said that then) and self-importantly shouting out questions to Jeopardy! answers, when the phone rang. It was the editor Lee Gutkind, and he wanted to accept for publication an essay I had submitted to his magazine at least a year previously and which, in a fit of pique, I had since deleted from my computer. Just a simple click of the mouse: Writing is for losers! He now needed me to send him a digital copy. And the confusion I felt in that moment—panic, self-loathing, pride—I have come to understand is what it means to be a writer.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Brendan Wolfe

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