Welcome! I’m a writer who came to writing the hard way… Though I always loved to write, as a young adult I followed the family script, studying to become an Adventist heart surgeon. It wasn’t until a breakdown during my pre-med training that I returned to my first loves–writing and books.
I left my native California to pursue an MFA in writing at U Mass, Amherst–about as far from home as I could get without crossing major bodies of water. During graduate school, I had the great luck to begin teaching under the mentorship of Peter Elbow, who taught me everything I know about teaching writing.
Basically, I believe that everyone has a story to tell, and that anyone can learn to write with authenticity and power, given the right tools and support. I had to learn this the hard way too: about halfway through my MFA, I stopped being able to write. I could no longer hear my creative voice, but heard instead a voice screaming that my work wasn’t good enough. It took me a few months to realize that I was hearing all the critical voices I’d been listening to in workshops for the past two years… These voices had amplified my already-overdeveloped inner critic, making her way too loud.
I worked hard to tame that inner critic. In my living room, I started writing with a group of women colleagues who were feeling likewise blocked in our MFA program. We wrote longhand so that we wouldn’t be tempted to delete. We shared our work aloud and commented supportively and thoughtfully on each other’s pieces. We listened carefully and noticed what made each voice powerful…
This was the beginning of my transformation as a writer, and my commitment to launching Writers in Progress, a community writing center in the Pioneer Valley that now serves dozens of writers each season. I wanted to create a haven where writers could feel both heard and instructed, where they could receive craft advice, critical feedback and validation in equal measure. I longed to help writers tame their inner critics and connect with their most authentic voices. Writers in Progress has now been going strong for 25 years, and has become my most fulfilling work. Though I’ve gone on to publish many stories, essays, and one novel, Outside the Ordinary World, it’s my engagement in studio 359, with other writers and my own process, that ultimately keeps me faithful to my writer’s path.
I hope you can come check out what we’re up to at the studio this season!
There are still a few spaces left in workshops with DM Gordon, Jacqueline Sheehan, and Cindy Littlefield…. Sign up now! Space is limited. Details here.
Blogging about whether the old adage “show don’t tell” is overused…. here!
Thanks to all those who made our 25th Anniversary and Reading a smashing success!