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Five Questions with Patricia Dunn

1.) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I was ten and my teacher picked my holiday poem for the P.S. 71 yearbook. To create something people wanted to read and share with others felt amazing. I think that started my addiction to needing an audience for my work. 2.) What do you love most about the writing process?
When I'm deeply in a story and engaged with my characters there is no place I'd rather be. It's like the Twilight Zone. I enter another dimension of space and time, only the world, though filled with surprises, makes a lot more sense to me than what we call "real life."
3.) What do you love most about teaching writing?
After over two decades of teaching writing I've realized that what I do that is most valuable is to help writers get out of their own way. To help them stop thinking. Most people can write the stories, the books they want to write, if they stop listening to the voices in their heads telling them they can't, or giving them the reasons why they don't have the time. I help writers squash the excuses and write. I also love to help create community. We don't write alone. I suppose we can, but as social beings writing in isolation often makes it a harder and less rewarding experience. Writing in community not only helps us to write our stories, but reminds us why we are writing them in the first place. 4.) What are you reading right now?
I am reading two books at the same time, Barbara Josselsohn's The Lily Garden and Carolyn Ferrell's Dear Miss Metropolitan. 5.) What's your favorite writing quote?
There are so many. I think my favorite was something a student said to me. I had the honor of hearing Grace Paley speak when I was an MFA student. She said, "If you don't love it, do something else. There are so many other things you can do that aren't as hard." I would share this the first day of every class I taught. I'd even added, "Leave now and we will refund your money. Save yourself." Then one day, after class, one of the students came up to me and said, "I don't always love it. Sometimes I hate it. I write because I have no choice." That is closer to the truth, for me anyway. Now, I tell my students, "If you have a choice not to write, don't, go do something else, because writing is tough and it doesn't always pay off in the ways we hope it will. If you don't have any other choice but to write, then write. Know that you don't have to write alone. Find a community."
**Patricia Dunn will be teaching Advanced Novel Writing this fall and leading an All-Day Write-In on October 23rd.

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