We’ve teamed up with Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) for a special series of essays and podcast episodes. The series delves into the intimate stories of their alumni and faculty about the life of a writer. Over the next several months, we’re spotlighting their experiences in a transparent and heart-driven way. From topics exploring the art of writing and the heart of writing, to overcoming imposter syndrome and breaking out of creative blocks, to the specific steps of craft; there are stories that will resonate, guide, and uplift every Storyteller in our community.
Vermont College of Fine Arts is a global community of artists continuously redefining what it means to be an arts college. It is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE) and offers the Master of Fine Arts degree in a variety of fields, including Writing, Writing for Children & Young Adults, and Writing & Publishing, along with an International MFA in Creative Writing & Literary Translation. With low-residency and fully residential options, VCFA has the graduate program to fit your needs. Learn more at vcfa.edu.
In her episode, Na shares how she fell in love with storytelling, giving us a peek into her childhood, and the heartwarming impact that representation has in the world. We dive into her writing process for vignettes and how she builds upon emotions and feelings to craft her scenes. She shares her experience serving on the National Book Awards committee and what the selection process looks like behind the curtain. She tells her story of grief and heartbreak that inspired her novel The Place Between Breaths… (Click to listen)
In our conversation, Amy shares how she fell in love with storytelling and turned that passion into her writing career. She spills plot structure exercises that will help you see the bigger picture to move past roadblocks in your story. We dive into how a writing MFA helped Amy discover confidence in recognizing and trusting her writing voice, strengthen her revision process, and find a supportive writing community that’s very similar to the arts communities that she loves. Further into our conversation, we discuss the inspiration behind Amy’s past novels and her writing process… (Click to listen)
Essays & Articles
Stories of the In-Between by Ann Dávila Cardinal
When I was a child, I realized I was most at home on a 747, 30,000 feet in the air, halfway between New York and Puerto Rico. My father died when I was eight of ALS, so from then on I was raised by my mother. After Dad died, her drinking increased, and she would ship me down to her family in Puerto Rico each summer, so she could lose herself in the bottom of a bottle of Bacardi. The Davila family, her family, my family, saved my life. They took care of me, got my cavities filled, took me to amusement parks, and most importantly, told me stories… (Click to read more)
But What If You Are an Imposter? Imposter Syndrome and the Long Sales Drought by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Signing the first book contract, and holding that debut in your hands, is not the end of the publishing journey. Along with that first success – often hard-won after many years and several trunked manuscripts – comes a pair of new challenges: keeping the momentum going and battling imposter syndrome. After all, the debut wasn’t the only book you wrote, or will ever write. And as the public now weighs in through reviews, sales, and attendance at your book events, you may worry that it’s only a matter of time before they… (Click to read more)
How Stories Save the World: Radical Point of View by Julie Berry
Here is how stories will save the world: Stories train humanity to see the life through others’ eyes, and in so doing, to understand others, to judge more cautiously, and above all, to care. Here is how stories have saved my life: They relieve me of the burden of being Julie for a while, and let me take rest in being someone else – from which journey I return to being Julie, but a bit softer, saner, more relaxed; more grateful and thoughtful, more alive; more willing to offer myself to the world, even if it’s risky. If nothing else, a Julie who’s ready for a good night’s sleep… (Click to read more)
Digging Deep to Build an Emotional Arc by Daphne Kalmar
I was raised in New England surrounded by adults who rarely discussed or explored their emotional lives. As a novelist, building the emotional arc of a character has been both a challenge and a revelation. The first draft of my middle-grade debut, A Stitch in Time, was a romp—a mystery with evil aunts and a trickster protagonist. It was fun to write the wild scenes full of sleuthing and pranks. But hidden under all the manic action, my protagonist, Donut, was a newly orphaned child in a lot of pain.Like Donut in that first draft, I avoided digging into her pain until my wise advisor at… (Click to read more)
Plot: No More Stalling. A Both Pedals Approach. By Katie Bayerl
Plot. It’s not a lovely word on the tongue. And not a natural muscle for many writers, including me. Voice comes easy, atmosphere oozes. But plot? Ugh. So much work! Here’s the thing: You’re not a lost cause as a writer if your plots don’t plop out brilliant and fully formed. Plot has to be learned. Earned. I’ve come to think of it as a dance, one that involves several muscle groups and techniques that we have to master before the whole thing comes together with fluidity and grace. Like dance, practice helps. That’s been true for me anyway. And I’ve got a few techniques to share that may help you mast plot faster than I did. But first… (Click to read more)