1.) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I wanted to be a writer from a really young age. Before I could read or write I used to dictate books to my parents (my first was “Poopy Ducky”) and by third grade was putting “writer” in response to those “what do you want to be when you grow up” questions.
2.) What do you love most about the writing process?
I love the first moments with a new draft. In the best of times it feels like playing and even when it’s not going well, putting a piece aside or even starting over doesn’t feel as emotional as it does at later stages.
3.) What do you love most about teaching writing?
I often force myself to do the things I know I should do but easily neglect. It’s easy to feel like I have to be “productive” all the time, but when I teach writing I emphasize taking creative risks, doing strange prompts with seemingly no connection to something you’re already working on, making a radical change in style just to see what happens, and when I’m teaching I’m more easily reminded to take my own advice.
4.) What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise, which at first I loved because it so well captures the strange relationships that form in intense high school settings between and among teachers and students, but am now loving because it has totally surprised me from a structural standpoint.
5.) What’s your favorite writing quote?
I just recently listened to Sally Mann’s memoir Hold Still and found so much of what she had to say about the process of making photographs to be very relevant to writing. At one point she’s describing the constant struggle between self-doubt and the desire to create. She writes: ““Maybe you’ve made something mediocre—there’s plenty of that in any artist’s cabinets—but something mediocre is better than nothing, and often the near-misses, as I call them, are the beckoning hands that bring you to perfection just around the blind corner.”