“I write because I can’t imagine not writing.”

Jersey girl Colette Sartor is a Writers’ Program all-star, guiding beginning students from their first pages of their first stories and helping experienced writers refine their work for publication. A graduate of the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she won a Truman Capote fellowship, she has been published in the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Colorado Review, Harvard Review (among many others) and won numerous awards. This summer, she’ll be teaching Writing the Short Story: Intermediate Workshop. Read on to learn more about Colette and what keeps her writing!

Name: Colette Sartor

Hometown: Scotch Plains, New Jersey, which means I’m a Jersey Shore devotee (the actual coastline, not the show)

Teaches: The Essential Beginnings, Introduction to Fiction Writing, Creative Writing: Short Story, Writing the Short Story: Intermediate Workshop, The Art of the Short Story: Advanced Workshop

Favorite authors: Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, Jhumpa Lahiri, Junot Diaz, Robin Black, Gillian Flynn, George Saunders, Justin Cronin, Stephen King, Amy Bloom, Ann Patchett, Elizabeth McCracken

Writers’ Program: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring fiction writer, what would it be?

Colette Sartor: The most successful writers aren’t necessarily the most talented ones; they’re the ones who best withstand despair. So don’t give up. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Develop a thick skin, callouses, muscles on your muscles. Rejection isn’t personal, it’s just a test of your tenacity.

Wp’: Why do you write?

CS: I write because otherwise I’m impossible to live with. I write to remake the world in a way that is bearable and heartbreaking and true. I write to better understand the burdens of grief and desire. I write because I can’t imagine not writing.

Fun factoid: I have an identical twin sister who lives in Los Angeles, teaches at UCLA, and is also a writer (screen, not fiction). Fair warning to anyone who’s met me: If you see me on the street and I act like I don’t know you, you’ve probably spotted my sister, not me.

Click here to enroll in Colette’s summer course.

Katy Flaherty is the Program Representative for Creative Writing (Onsite). Write to her at kflaherty@uclaextension.edu.

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