What is the title of your class?
Robin Oliveira and I are teaching a class called, “Taming the Beast: Gaining Perspective on Your Novel Draft.”
What’s one thing you hope your students will take away from the class?
Perspective. Trying to make sense of hundreds upon hundreds of pages of rough material can be panic-inducing and petrifying, especially when that material is one’s own. It’s easy to give up or to waste a lot of time making the same mistakes twice. What’s often needed is perspective. With that, fruitful revision becomes possible.
What sorts of writers will you be reading/assigning in class? Why?
Along with various stories and chapters that will help illustrate lessons, our primary texts will be Jon Franklin’s Writing for Story and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how?
Probably the best way to connect with me on social media is to follow me on Twitter. I also have an updated blog that includes events, publications, and pictures of Pacific Northwest scenery that have nothing to do with writing.
Are any of your works online and available to the public?
What’s your teaching philosophy?
To be helpful. I think there’s a lot of information out there about writing that is very interesting, awe-inspiring, and perhaps even anxiety-causing, but not particularly helpful. My job is to help you go home and write the novel you’d love to read.
What advice do you have about getting into the habit of writing regularly?
I have a very busy and full life. My two-year-old makes sure of that! So I’ve found that setting very small, achievable expectations really helps me to get me into my writing. For example, I’ll make a goal during her naptime to only revise, say, one paragraph, and more often than not, I end up writing for an hour and getting far more done than that. Also, strong coffee doesn’t hurt.
What are you working on right now? Where did the idea come from?
I always have a few short stories going, but my big project is a novel that I’m polishing. It began as a short story two years ago that grew into a huge mess before settling into its current structure, pace, and voice.
What’s your favorite word in the English vocabulary?
Right now it’s mouseling, which is—you guessed it—a small mouse. My daughter is really into a set of books that have mouselings in them. She talks about them constantly, but she can’t really pronounce mouseling, and the way she says the word is adorable.
Let’s talk writing inspiration—what’s the No. 1 thing that drives you to write?
I love being in the flow of writing. When I’m at my desk and my entire focus is taken up with the story at hand, there’s no experience quite like it.