National Mentoring Program [Fiction]: The Haunting of Creativity

My manuscript is a story that’s been haunting me for years. In a horror movie I recently saw, learning the name of the ghost renders it powerless. I feel writing this story will help me do the same; it will enable me to move on to other projects, and I may sleep better at night once it’s done.

Having an established writer (Farzana Doctor) as a mentor is like having the light on at night. It makes being alone a little less scary. Being selected for this program is a validation that I’m on the right path. I expect to continue improving as a writer and have a publishable manuscript by the end of my mentorship.

Most of the time, an idea gets the writing process started for me; or it could be something I read or heard; anything could spark a character or a situation. The next step then is to imagine these made-up people; what they might be like in real life; if I put them in a particular situation, what would this person do? The first draft is writing down everything about this imagined world as best as I can. I’ve noticed often that when I return to a piece later, I almost always have better words, or a more accurate way of describing something. And when that happens, the story continues to become sharper and deeper.

In a perfect world, of which I were the ruler of all, writers would have everything they’ve always wanted – all the time to work on their writing projects; invitations to beautiful writing residencies; a permanent break from domestic duties; generous grants, and quiet, comfortable writing spaces.

In ten years, I’m an award-winning author of multiple books and a creative writing teacher.

If I could choose one author to write a book about my life I’d pick Jenny Offill.