Rayhané Sanders

Instructor Biography:

Literary Agent at Massie & McQuilkin. Ms. Sanders began her career at Newsweek, before moving to Penguin Books USA and then William Morris Endeavor. Her clients include bestselling/award-winning authors Lidia Yuknavitch, Kerry Cohen, Maureen Stanton, Devin Murphy, Margaret Malone, Amulya Malladi, Myriam Gurba, and others.

Instructor Statement:

I firmly believe that writing our stories is no less than what’s required to save our lives, and our communities. No less than what’s required to ensure we survive—and thrive—from one generation to the next. I’ve seen it happen from the frontlines—how writing saves, heals, educates. Writing the truth of our lives, whether in fiction or nonfiction, is crucial for our individual and collective well-being; it’s necessary.

A bicoastal professional, I’ve also seen the frontlines of the publishing industry. In fact, I live there. From deep in the trenches, I can tell you: writing is not publishing. There is what you’re doing on the page, what you’re doing in your heart; and then there is the marketplace. Sometimes these things collide; sometimes they don’t. And that’s okay. Some of you have publishing ambitions, and some of you don’t. You don’t have to. I firmly believe that writing is infinitely worthwhile, valuable, and necessary, even when it doesn’t end in publication.

I hope my students, no matter what their goals, get a few things out of my class. With generative exercises, we’ll get your creative juices flowing. The first step is to be excited by the possibilities writing affords: What is the story you are trying, or needing, to tell? Who are your characters? What is/are the voice/s? Where is the place? What are you exploring/digging for/pressing on/investigating? Cultivating community is important, and we will do that here. This will be a safe, supportive space for the generative process.

Reading each other’s pages will help writers clearly identify what their intentions are for their work. As we move forward from the generative phase, we will unpack the strengths and weaknesses of the stories emerging; we will ask the necessary questions and do the excavation work and “deep dives” necessary to break through and revise. We will come to understand why “90% of writing is rewriting.” Everyone, no matter what their end goal, wants their writing to become better. I promise you: this WILL happen. As you face the life force emerging on the page, as you ask and answer the necessary questions, your writing will get better, stronger.

Finally, I’d like my students to come away with some knowledge about the publishing industry. Again, different students will have different goals, and that’s fine and normal. Still, ignorance never helped anyone. Whether you’re curious about what your “genre” is/where your work might fit in the marketplace, finding an agent, what the publication process looks like (“How does this whole thing even work?”), what kind of money is involved, indie publishers vs. the Big 5, or even where to submit short pieces (stories, essays) for publication, you will come away with practical knowledge to either use, or put aside for a rainy day.


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