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 surgeon. It wasn’t until a breakdown during my pre-med studies that I returned to my first loves–writing and books.
I left California to pursue an MFA in writing at U Mass, Amherst, where I had the great luck to begin teaching under the mentorship of Peter Elbow, who taught me most of what I know about teaching writing… I believe 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 program. We timed ourselves and 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 advice, critical feedback and validation in equal measure. I longed to help writers 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 a 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!
Our Winter Schedule is here! Weekly Writing Workshops with Dori and Diana Gordon, and One-day and Half-day workshops with Cindy Littlefield, Randy Susan Meyers, Sarah Buttenwieser and Molly Burnham. Register soon–space is limited to 8 participants!
Blogging about the importance of receptivity over productivity… here!
Jacqueline Sheehan blogging about research in fiction…. here!
Don’t miss our Fall Open House and Reading, featuring members of the 2016/2017 Manuscript Intensive Series: Cathy Luna, Prudy Marsh, Leigh Bailey, Harris Thompson, Emily Lackey and Dori Ostermiller. Saturday, November 11th, 6-8 pm, at our Florence studio…
Thanks to all those who made our 25th Anniversary and Reading a smashing success!