Welcome new Writers’ Program instructor, Ploy Pirapokin! Ploy is teaching Speculative Fiction and Magical Realism this Winter online (starting January 10th), and sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and her upcoming course.

What sparks your creativity?
I read and respond to works I have questions about, or ones that prompt me to ask more questions, and then I follow these questions by organizing thoughts, research, and words that usher me towards an understanding of those questions’ origins. If I find myself hunched over my desk for far too long or obsessing over finding answers, I play Oulipo games to place constraints on my mind to break up my way of thought. I think of creativity like how a baker cultivates wild yeast in a form to be used for baking. A balanced amount of flour and water is fed daily to the starter. Too much, and the starter takes longer to thrive.

What do you rely on for those times it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?
Aerial sports. For some reason, when I’m upside down or hanging from behind my knees, my brain pops out a sentence that I’ve been dying to articulate for months.

What’s your favorite book and/or movie?
This is like asking a mother which one of her children does she love most! There were so many great books published this year by women of color such as Chemistry by Weike Wang, Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, and Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo. I recognized parts of my soul in these works and faced the uncomfortable yet familial realities of my very existence as a woman.

What’s your favorite quote about writing?
“The first draft of anything is shit,” Ernest Hemingway said, supposedly.

Who do you wish you could write like (or: Whose writing discipline do you wish you had)?
I respect any writer who gives him, her, or themselves the freedom to dream while writing. I struggle with being still, or when I’ve set aside time to write and the word count remains the same. We live in a world where productivity is valued, where we’re told to “write every day” as though the quality of words and sentences can be summoned. Thinking and reflecting is such an integral part to the writing process, especially to form connections and see truths that are only available to you when you are not translating what is in your mind into words, and I only hope to be kinder to myself in my process.

What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
The students. I hear the Writers’ Program attracts bright, inquisitive, and insightful students who aren’t just passionate about craft but are generous and kind to one another, even fostering a strong sense of community in an online class.

What do you hope your students get from your course(s)?
I hope they complete a short speculative fiction story that they can later polish over time. In the long run, I hope they can face a blank page with wonder and curiosity, and of course, with wacky, kickass, unrealistic conceits.

Thank you to Ploy 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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