Welcome new Writers’ Program instructor Elizabeth Silver! Elizabeth is teaching a remote (online) section of Memoir I this Summer, Thursdays 7-10pm PT (Reg# 373712). She sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and her upcoming course.
What sparks your creativity?
Inspiration from a great piece of art (literature, music, performance), and learning the story behind it. I’m also very drawn to narratives of social justice as well as innovative takes on reinterpreting history. When we shift just one person’s perspective in a story, an entirely new narrative emerges, which is an exciting way to approach storytelling.
What do you rely on for those times it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?
In many ways, I think that writer’s block (or struggling to find the time, energy or motivation to write) is akin to dehydration. When our body is starved for water, we drink and are replenished and able move again. I think literary dehydration is real, too, and to solve that, quite simply, you just need to read. A lot. Whenever I feel depleted or find difficulty in my own writing, there is an unsurprisingly high correlation to my lack of reading at that time.
What’s your favorite quote about writing?
Instead of a quote, I’ll throw in the conceit of the “shitty first draft,” pulled from Anne Lamott’s landmark book about writing, Bird By Bird. This essentially means that the first thing we need to do is to get our first drafts down on paper. But if we realize that they aren’t necessarily going to be anywhere near the final draft we ultimately present to the public, we relax a little and feel the pressure wane. I love this concept because it allows writers to sit down and put one word after another without great fear, until there is eventually a complete first draft. After that, we embrace revision, reconstruction, and polish; but none of that can happen without the first draft.
What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
I’m thrilled to teach memoir for the Writers’ Program to get the chance to work with writers of all backgrounds. Memoir is a particularly intimate and exhilarating class to teach because we are working directly on students’ personal stories. This is a process that inherently connects us not just as writers on the page, but as individuals beyond the page.
What do you hope your students get from your course(s)?
I hope students will walk away from the course with the confidence to continue the pieces they began in class. A writing class can fill the tank of an engine, and afterwards, my hope is that students will be able to drive away with the fuel they need to continue with their works-in-progress.
Thank you to Elizabeth for taking time to share with us. Look for more instructor interviews coming soon!