Welcome new Writers’ Program instructor, John Henry Davis! John is teaching a new course this Spring, Fundamentals of Story, and sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and his upcoming course.

What sparks your creativity?
I can be inspired by any number of things, including an off-beat conversation, a chance observation, an insight another work has given me, a memory, or a dream. If something touches me deeply, I write the idea or feeling down to keep a record for future use.

What do you rely on for those times it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?
I believe having a discipline of writing regularly is the best solution. It’s important to prioritize writing and carve out a space for it in one’s life.

 What’s your favorite book and/or movie?
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, a groundbreaking novel about gender, myth, and above all, seeking the elusive spark of intimacy between beings of different cultures. One movie I greatly admire is Michael Clayton by Tony Gilroy for its political content and narrative drive.  

What’s your favorite quote about writing?
My manager quotes a great saying by Tom Stoppard: “Words are sacred. They deserve respect.  If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.”

Who do you wish you could write like (or: Whose writing discipline do you wish you had)?
Here’s a crazy, impossible wish list: I wish I could write like Ursula K. Le Guin, John le Carre, Tony Kushner, and August Wilson.

What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
My whole life has been involved in creating stories. I want to reach out to writers to share what I know and give them the support and mentoring that they need. Often, writing is a terribly lonely occupation. Vibrant interaction, encouragement, and sensitive criticism can really make a difference to help writers improve skills and unlock creativity.

What do you hope your students get from your course(s)?
Through my courses, I want students to forge a method to analyze and critique their own writing, applying a process of revision that works for them. In this way they can make their own discoveries that will help them realize their extraordinary potential.

Anything else?
This course is an opportunity for me to reach out to students and for students to connect with each other in vital ways.  From experience I know this interaction can reap great creative rewards.

Thank you to John for taking time to share with us. Look for more instructor interviews coming soon!


Bree is the Assistant to the Director and Social Media Coordinator. You can email her at btodish@uclaextension.edu.

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