People should take this class if…
they want to ease into the workshop—a style of class fundamental to many writing schools—learning to comment on others’ work while getting their own critiqued. This is also great for anyone who wants feedback on their fiction in a structured, supportive environment.
Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how?
Sure! My Twitter handle is @ancawrites.
Are any of your works online and available to the public?
Here are three recent stories: “Sugar” in Gastronomica; “Old Boyfriends” in Propeller; “The Zoo” in Washington City Paper. This year, I’m also issuing writing prompts for the Ploughshares blog. The first one used portraits from the Google Art Project to write monologues and the second used eavesdropping as inspiration. Plenty more at my website, ancawrites.com.
What’s your teaching philosophy?
Variety and flexibility drive my approach to teaching—variety in materials and approaches; flexibility in terms of my students’ needs and learning styles. There’s a general approach to workshopping writing, but within that there are lots of options, and I’m always thinking about what will work with my particular group of students. I’m also big on open-ended questions—the kind of questions that help a writer continue thinking through a piece of writing.
If you could have any famous actor read one of your pieces to you, who would it be and why?
I recently heard Alec Baldwin read the opening to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and now wish he would narrate every single thing.
What are you currently working on?
My second novel is about a struggling 25-year-old visual artist who takes a job as a paralegal just before the economic crisis of 2008, gets swept up in the drama of a trial between a bank and an insurance company, and finds herself rooting for a glorified loan shark, all set against the backdrop of the Bernie Madoff scandal. It’s a romance.
What’s your favorite “rule” of writing to break in your own writing?
There are three meaty dreams in my first novel, partially to spite the supposed rule that you shouldn’t write dreams into your fiction. The staunchest anti-dream person in my MFA program had to admit that I made breaking that rule work, so I have to pat myself on the back. Rule breaking is all in the execution.
What are you reading now? If you could pair it with a beverage (alcoholic or otherwise), what would you choose?
I recently finished What Ends, the AWP award-winning novel by Andrew Ladd. It’s set in Scotland and beautiful and so heartbreaking I literally broke down sobbing in the last five pages. For this, only Laphroaig will do.