Meet Our Instructors

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are here: Home About Meet Our Instructors