Welcome new Writers’ Program instructor Jacquelyn Stolos! Jacquelyn is teaching a section of Novel I (reg# 385457) in our asynchronous Online format, starting April 6 this Spring. She sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and her upcoming course.
What sparks your creativity?
Typically, other people’s art gets me excited about my own. I often read to get my brain moving at the beginning of a writing session or find myself taking notes on my phone during a concert instead of looking at the stage. Nature and movement does it for me too — I love dreaming while on a walk, hike, or run.
What do you rely on for those times it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?
Oh, I wish I had something I could rely upon! In terms of energy, motivation, and inspiration: sometimes reading helps, sometimes walking around my neighborhood helps, sometimes listening to music, going to see some art, or journaling helps. But alas, there are also plenty of days when I find myself stuck and nothing can save me. It’s okay to be stuck! I’ve been stuck plenty of times. Good news — it’s never been permanent (yet).
In terms of finding the time, well, it’s a battle. Writing isn’t always lucrative, especially right away, so the demands of living life and supporting oneself sometimes just have to come first, especially for those of us who aren’t independently wealthy. I’ve found the time all sorts of ways: I’ve written on public transit to and from jobs, I nannied for years because nap time equaled sneaky writing time, I fought to land a graduate fellowship so I could read and write full time for two years (probably the only time in my life that this luxury will occur). And this is all without dependents. Forgive yourself if there are days when you just can’t. It’s not your fault–all the forces of capitalism are stacked against you–and know it will happen again.
Who do you wish you could write like?
I tend to covet most stories I encounter. Every book, movie, even anecdote tends to summon envious admiration from me. I’m full of fan-girl for narrative; someone’s always doing something clever or brilliant or gorgeous that I can’t imagine being capable of executing myself. This shapes the way I read, write, and teach. I’m a massive underliner and notes-in-the-margins taker, always trying to figure out how the brilliant architect of whatever story I’ve encountered managed to pull off the magic they did.
What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
I am so excited to work with the ambitious, mature students that the Writer’s Program attracts. The type of person who’d commit to a ten week course to focus on their project is my type of person. I am so ready to dig in to your manuscript with you.
What do you hope your students get from your course(s)?
Fame and fortune! Just kidding. I know I’m biased, but I believe that the writing of fiction is the absolute number one way to process these beautiful, harrowing, bizarre human lives we lead. So, I hope that my students develop the habit and confidence to continue and make fiction writing a part of their lives forever. I’m also an enormous believer in learning how to write by dissecting the texts we admire, so I strive to help my students build and strengthen this skill. This way, so long as they can find a book they can always be improving their craft, regardless of their access to a course, writing community, or creative writing instructor.
Thank you to Jacquelyn for taking time to share with us. Look for more instructor interviews coming soon!