Last January, at an Italian restaurant on Whidbey Island, my friend Stephanie and I hatched a plan.
“I have an idea for a class,” she said, “about the public aspects of being a writer. Do you want to teach it with me?”
“Writers talking to people,” I said. “I’m in.”
The class would be for students of the Whidbey Writer’s Workshop, the low-residency MFA program we had both completed the previous August. At the nine-day residencies, held every January and August in Coupeville, students attend morning classes and afternoon seminars. The seminars are taught by guest faculty, and we proposed this as a pilot class involving the alumni. We received an enthusiastic response from our director, Wayne Ude, and assistant director Ana Maria Spagna, also a nonfiction faculty member and my former thesis advisor. Our discussions back in January felt a little like the conversations I had with my surgeons before my first operation – this is an experiment, we aren’t sure what we will discover. Like my doctors, Stephanie and I forged ahead enthusiastically, hoping at the very least to get a paper in a medical journal out of the deal. Continue reading