Welcome new Writers’ Program instructor Mary Gulino! Mary is teaching a section of Beginning Writing for the Half-Hour Spec I (Reg# 379243) in our Remote Instruction format, with live Zoom class meetings on Tuesdays at 7pm PT this Spring. She sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and her upcoming course.
What do you rely on for those times it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?
I love toggling between mediums. Sometimes a story compels me but doesn’t warrant an entire TV series in my brain, so I’ll give it a go as a short story. Or maybe it’s an observation that I want to turn into an online humor piece. The satisfaction of completing shorter projects with closer deadlines can often motivate longer, more time-intensive ones. Also, if I feel like the well is really running dry on a given day, maybe that’s a sign I need to read more. Reading good writing of all kinds is so helpful to a writing practice and, in my opinion, definitely qualifies as working on your craft.
What’s your favorite book and/or movie?
I have a hard time categorizing things into all-time favorites, so I’ll say that some of my favorite books I’ve read recently include Three Women (Lisa Taddeo), Her Body and Other Parties (Carmen Maria Machado), I Hold a Wolf By the Ears (Laura van den Berg), and Chemistry (Weike Wang). The movie that I think I’ve watched the most is The Wizard of Oz. Thanks to the mere exposure effect, it’s probably also my favorite by extension. (That’s how opinions work, right?)
What’s your favorite quote about writing?
Probably the Ira Glass taste gap quote. It’s a great reminder that the people who succeed tend to be the people who don’t get in their own way.
Who do you wish you could write like (or: Whose writing discipline do you wish you had)?
In prose, I wish I could write like Donna Tartt for fiction or David Rakoff for nonfiction. As far as half-hour TV goes, some shows that make me go “Wow I wish I had thought of that” are Pen15, Search Party, Barry, and Big Mouth.
What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
If I can inspire others to be fearless about trying things out on the page, I’ll be so happy.
What do you hope your students get from your course(s)?
I hope students learn how to write from a place that’s free of inhibitions– it can be vulnerable sharing in a group setting, but the collective aim will always be to elevate the student’s work to the best version of itself, rather than trying to mold it into something completely out of line with the writer’s taste. Along those lines, I also want my students to learn how to give really good, thoughtful feedback to their peers. I don’t want people to hold back on their good ideas. Hopefully they’ll see that, the more they put themselves in situations where they have to pitch good ideas, the quicker the good ideas will come.