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Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress: My Summer Teaching Gig

Whidbey Island scenery (photo from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts Facebook page.)

Some of the scenery I can look forward to! (photo from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts Facebook page)

As I mentioned briefly in the most recent issue of The Practicing Writer, I have some exciting news to share: August will find me traveling across the country to serve as a visiting faculty member in the Whidbey Writers Workshop MFA program.

Here’s a one-word summary of my feelings about this: thrilled.

I’ve followed the progress of the Whidbey program (housed within the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts) from its inception. Now, I have the privilege of being part of it.

The August residency schedule was posted online last week, and I’m thoroughly impressed by the offerings. (In the “it’s a small world” department, I’ve also noted that one of my fellow faculty members is an accomplished writer whom I met during the summer of 1988–when I was a college-age resident advisor in the academic enrichment program that she was attending as a middle-schooler.)

In case you don’t have time to delve into the online schedule, here’s a brief description of what I’ll be teaching. First, I’ll be leading a two-session sequence on “Writing What We Know: Writing About Writing.” The course material will be modified from a single half-day session that I’ve offered elsewhere in the past. Its purpose is to familiarize participants with some freelancing basics and point out opportunities for writers to write about something that they know and love: writing. The possibilities are considerable: book reviews, author profiles, literary travel articles, and so forth. I’m able to share some of my own background/experience writing these kinds of pieces (and getting paid for them), and I’ll suggest possible paths for the participants to pursue themselves.

Then, I’ll be offering two single-session classes, both geared to fiction writers. The first one is titled “Putting Your Characters to Work,” and it builds on my longtime interest and previous teaching experience in enhancing character development by delving into fictional work lives. The second one will examine “Structuring Short Story Collections.” There, the course material is somewhat newer, and I expect to spend quite a bit of time in the next weeks preparing it for presentation (suggestions welcome!).

I’m immensely grateful for this opportunity. Any Whidbey folks reading this now who might want to say an early hello?

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5 Responses »

  1. What a wonderful opportunity. Enjoy it. I’m sure those in your sessions will learn a lot – and you will gain immensely.

  2. The students there will be lucky to have you. Congrats!

  3. Congratulations Erika! What a gorgeous opportunity for you and your Whidbey Program
    students.

  4. Thank you, David, Lisa, and Polly. Your kind words mean a lot.

  5. Congratulations and nice use of alliteration, too.

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