I believe good writing needs heart, consciousness, skill, and presence.
When I’m not writing, I spend time thinking about how to connect to creativity. I help writers bring insight and innovation to their work by writing and speaking about contemplative writing.
I’ve been teaching people how to write mindfully since 2001, when I ran my first creative writing workshop out of my living room in Victoria, BC. I started teaching because I wanted to talk about writing as a contemplative craft, and I couldn’t find a writing workshop anywhere that taught me everything that I wanted to learn.
My living room writing school grew too big for my living room, and I transformed it into an internationally celebrated online writing program in 2011. Two years later, I opened The Story Intensive, a creative writing course and mentorship program that runs every fall, and includes guest lectures with Margaret Atwood and George Saunders.
My method is a unique hybrid of craft and process: not soulful journalling, not pointy criticism. Writing creatively demands a special kind of attention; it needs to be laced with kindness and rigour.
I’ve studied with exceptional teachers, including Natalie Goldberg, Lynda Barry and Zsuzsi Gartner, and I work under their influence. I am an alumna of the Humber School for Writers and The Banff Centre, and I graduated from the University of British Columbia with an MFA in Creative Writing.
This Cake Is for the Party was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book in Canada and the Carribean, and it was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Prize. The New York Times called the stories “utterly fascinating.” You can find my writing in The Walrus, ELLE Canada, Geist, and a variety of newspapers and magazines.
What I do:
- I help writers who resist writing and then beat themselves up about it. Writers who aren’t writing aren’t happy and healthy. I try to bring inspiration, calm, excitement and success to writers who need supportive, honest, smart advice about their work. In addition to my online writing courses, I send out free daily writing prompts and letters twice a month.
- I reinforce the short fiction renaissance: may the form continue to be adored for its elegance and intelligence, and no longer viewed as an unmarketable warm up to novel writing. Every summer, I host The Little Bird Writing Contest, a celebration of short fiction that showcases emerging writers.
- I make writers work hard. I kick them out of their patterns and grooves, get them to take risks with style and content, help them recognize and eradicate their own clichés, stereotypical story lines, and other less-than-excellent habits. I want to read stories and voices that I’ve never read before.
- I write. I take time off regularly, go where nobody will find me, and focus on the one thing I love to do the most. And I advise you to do the same. Right now, I’m working on a novel – it’s a bit too early to tell you the details, but I can tell you this: it’s about a character you may have met before in This Cake.
I am represented by Samantha Haywood of Transatlantic Agency.
I’m a Virgo.
I live in Toronto with my husband, Ryan.
I love receiving handwritten letters in the mail. Please send here:
P.O. Box #5 Station C, Toronto ON, M6J 3M7 Canada
Email: I often feel overwhelmed by my inbox. But if you have something important to ask or share with me, please contact [email protected]. You’ll get a response from me or my assistant in a few business days.
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