MA, author of Jenalyn (finalist for the Saboteur Awards), Ginseng and Other Tales from Manila (finalist for the Philippines’ National Book Award), The Mayor of the Roses: Stories, and The Lost Language. Ms. Villanueva’s work has been short-listed for the O. Henry Literature Prize and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her stories have appeared in Juked, Witness, Bluestem, Your Impossible Voice, Café Irreal, Crab Orchard Review and Bellingham Review.
There is nothing mysterious about writing. We all have that impulse to communicate—some do it better by oral articulation, others by writing. What constitutes good writing? With me there are not hard-and-fast rules, and I confess I don’t often know until I see it. Then, it’s almost a visceral response: my breath quickens, and I can feel my pulse accelerate. Writing that moves me—that’s what I’m after. Structure is largely an experiment. Technique can be learned. But writing that has that spark—it doesn’t happen often that I come across this, and when I do, I let the student know it in no uncertain terms. It’s a lesson the student will keep with him or her forever, long after the course is over. This is what I think my greatest gift as a writing instructor is—to be that receptive audience the writer deserves. And also to guide, to support, and, yes, to instruct. Never command, but to (gently) lead, to help writers discover their inner strengths. Writing is hard work, but it’s work that matters. I don’t exaggerate much when I say that it has life-or-death importance. And when my students truly believe this, then it enables them to have intensity, the passion for the work that makes truly outstanding literature possible.
Our Students Say it Best!
“Marianne Villanueva is an outstanding instructor. She cares about her students and takes the time to write detailed and specific comments about each student’s work on every assignment. Marianne is thoughtful and encouraging. My writing has improved enormously in a brief period. I only wish that the evaluation scale allowed me to assign a value higher than 9!” — Writers’ Program Student