WriterHouse

Meet Our Instructors

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

Clifford Garstang SQWhen did you first feel like a writer?

For the longest time after I quit my job in order to write fiction full time, I still introduced myself by my former profession (I practiced law). But after I’d published a few stories in magazines I was finally able to say, “I’m a writer,” although I almost always included a verbal footnote (“but I used to practice law”). It was only when my first book was published that I was able to drop the footnote and really feel like a writer.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Clifford Garstang

When did you first feel like a writer?Mark Parlette

Here's one answer: When I was twelve, my friend and I began writing a novel. We filled many pages, loose leaf and in a tiny marbled notebook, with terrible writing about children with superpowers. Super stretch arms, invisibility, you name it. It was pure descriptive writing. Actions and dialog. Hemingway would have been proud.

A better answer: It was when I began arranging my life around writing. Applying and being accepted into an MFA program, submitting a poem and having it accepted at a journal—these were great moments, but they weren't nearly as important as the period when I became disciplined in my writing life. When I began judging my days and weeks by what I accomplished on the page.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Mark Parlette

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

Don Fry newWhen did you first feel like a writer?

I became a writer at 8, when my 2nd grade teacher read my first poem to her class.

What's your philosophy about teaching a writing class?

I collect writing techniques from participants, and recycle them for other participants.

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

I would like to talk with perhaps-fictional Caedmon, the first English poet, about inspiration in dreams.

John Most colorWhen did you first feel like a writer?

When I was a little boy, my mom bought me a journal. That was the first time that I felt like a writer.

What's your philosophy about teaching a writing class?

First, I always adjust the class based upon the students in the class. Second, I always create a relaxed environment. Third, together, we, as poets, try to help each other improve.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: John Most

Chloe BenjaminWhen did you first feel like a writer?

I've felt like a writer since I was a kid, but only recently, with the publication of my novel, did I begin to feel like a professional, capital-w Writer—though that label still seems ambitious! Like most writers (and a lot of Writers), I have a day job, and when people ask me what I do, career-wise, I have a brief moment of uncertainty: what do I do? Hopefully, I'll always be a Writer, but whether I feel like one is probably something that will fluctuate throughout the course of my career.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Chloe Benjamin

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

Jane FriedmanWhen did you first feel like a writer?

I shall immediately become too philosophical about this question (so forgive me), but as children, I think we're very ready to think of  ourselves as writers (or artists or creative beings), but as we get older, we acquire some real angst and status anxiety about it. I am grateful to have never dealt with such challenges, and perhaps I have my parents to thank for that. That aside, though: faking it is a pretty good way of making it at any endeavor.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Jane Friedman

Bella Stander SQWhat do you like most about helping authors promote their books?

Authors are so close to their work that often they can't step back and look at the big picture: what they're trying to accomplish with their book and how it fits into their writing career. I like to help them figure that out, define what makes their books special and devise creative ways to connect with their readers.

 

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Bella Stander

Michael Cordell SQ

When did you first feel like a writer?

In fourth grade when my teacher read a poem I had written about pollution (I’m fairly sure I came out against it) and she said I should submit it to “Weekly Reader”. From time to time ever since, I’ve had bits of encouraging things said about my writing.

What's your philosophy about teaching a writing class?

I simply share my thoughts, experiences and philosophy about writing for Hollywood, and students can pick out those things that ring true to them. I’ve had a modicum of success writing screenplays (my goal is to one day have two modicum) and so I think some of the things I say should at least be considered. I also believe, though, that there is no one right way to write, so at no time do I try to say “this is how you have to do it.”

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

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Michael Cordell

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

Mary Carroll-HackettWhen did you first feel like a writer?

I guess always. My family tells about how even as a three year old, I would climb up on the kitchen table like a stage to tell stories. I think writing, art, is how I've always made sense of the world.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Mary Carroll-Hackett

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

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

rufi thorpeWhen did you first feel like a writer?

I am sure that external things, like getting into an MFA program or publishing my first short story, made me feel less embarrassed to tell other people I was a writer. But I think I first felt that I was a writer when I completed my first novel. I printed it all out and it was so BIG! Oh, I was so ludicrously proud of the sheer number of pages. I had done it. And I wanted to write another one after that. And another one. I knew I couldn't imagine my life without writing in it.

Read more: Meet the Instructor: Rufi Thorpe

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