Welcome new Writers’ Program instructor Aaron Clark! Aaron is teaching a section of Novel I (reg# 383928) in our Remote Instruction format, with live Zoom class meetings on Thursdays at 7pm PT this Winter. He sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and his upcoming course.

What sparks your creativity?
I’m a firm believer in diversifying creative outlets. While it’s rare, there are times I need to take a break from writing fiction. In those cases, I may write poetry or paint. Working in one medium helps to rekindle the artistic spark for the other, and I get inspired.

What do you rely on for when it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?
Tea and meditation have been working for me. Usually, I’ll brew tea, put on calming music, close my eyes, and imagine my story. I visualize character interactions, setting, time, the weather, etc. It’s like painting a picture in my mind. This technique works well if I’m bored with a scene I’m writing. I visualize the scene until something pops out and screams for my attention. Sometimes it’s the smallest detail that can open a scene up and revitalize it, so it doesn’t read flat.

What’s your favorite quote about writing?
To paraphrase James Baldwin, “Write a sentence as clean as a bone.” That adage has always stuck with me, especially when I’m editing.

Who do you wish you could write like (or: Whose writing discipline do you wish you had)?
I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but I desire to have Walter Mosley’s discipline. He’s incredibly prolific, and I appreciate his ability to cross genres. He writes what he wants, and when publishers aren’t sure his work will be successful, he doesn’t accept the advance. There’s a purity in that because while publishing is very much a business, for authors, it should always be about the craft.

What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
I’ve been an educator for over a decade, and I’m passionate about imparting lessons to my students. Despite attending an MFA program for creative writing, there was still much I didn’t know when I graduated, especially regarding the business of publishing. I’m always reminded of that when I teach. I’m excited to share creative writing theory and the practical and business-related lessons I’ve picked up throughout my writing career.

What do you hope your students get from your course(s)?
I hope my students complete my courses empowered to write whatever they want. Far too often, students enter my classes looking for the secret to getting their work published. It becomes debilitating and creatively stifling because they often lose sight of their story and voice to appeal to the masses. As cliché as it may sound, I encourage my students to write what’s in their hearts. If a story is written with passion, it has a much greater chance of publication.

Thank you to Aaron for taking time to share with us. Look for more instructor interviews coming soon!

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