What is the title of your class?
What’s one thing you hope your students will take away from the class?
A solution to whatever central problem/challenge they are facing in their writing. That’s not part of the plan or design of the class, but often happens through some beautiful alchemy of effort and luck.
What sorts of writers will you be reading/assigning in class? Why?
James Baldwin—for his characterization and courage
Jo Ann Beard—for her command of story structure and suspense
Zora Neale Hurston—for her unique writer’s voice and general badassery
Luis Alberto Urrea—for his ability to set a scene and pull the reader into it
Lucia Perillo—for her ability to bring forward quiet themes
Alice Walker—for her ability to make herself into a delightful character on the page
Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how?
Maybe, but it’s much easier to find me at Seward Park or the Columbia City Farmers Market—or the local library if the weather is bad.
Are any of your works online and available to the public?
You can find a whole bunch at my website.
What’s your teaching philosophy?
Short version: Come one, come all. We’ll open up a toolbox and pass around some tools.
You can read the long version here.
What advice do you have about getting into the habit of writing regularly?
Put a lot of pressure on yourself to get to the desk. Once you get there, take the pressure off. My mantra is: “I don’t have to write, but I can’t do anything else.” That usually works.
What are you working on right now? Where did the idea come from?
I’m writing about Seward Park and the layers of story and history there. The idea came from a lifelong obsession with place and home, combined with a recent curiosity about my neighborhood park’s many-thousand-year history as a source of sustenance.
What’s your favorite word in the English vocabulary?
First one that comes to mind: “quotidian.” (Which I first learned in Spanish, cotidiano, and thought didn’t exist in English, because I tried looking it up in the dictionary under C rather than Q.)
Let’s talk writing inspiration—what’s the No. 1 thing that drives you to write?
Deep-seated fear of boredom.