I’m the author of Radiant Shimmering Light and This Cake Is for the Party. I created the Sarah Selecky Writing School in 2011, which has since grown into a creative community of over 10,000 writers from around the world.
I believe good writing needs heart, consciousness, skill, and presence.
When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about how to connect to creative source. I help writers bring insight and innovation to their work by writing and speaking about creativity, mindfulness, and literature.
I’ve been teaching people how to write receptively since 2001, when I ran my first workshop out of my living room in Victoria, British Columbia. 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 what 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 school in 2011. Two years later, I opened The Story Intensive, a creative writing and mentorship program that runs every fall, and includes guest lectures with Margaret Atwood, George Saunders, Ruth Ozeki, and Ann Patchett.
My method is a hybrid of literary craft and unapologetic love. I approach writing as an art, and also as a contemplative practice. I believe that skill comes from study, that inspiration comes from love, and that both are necessary.
Writing creatively demands a special kind of attention; it needs to be laced with kindness and benevolent boundaries.
My teaching style is more literary-based than journalling and reflection, and more heart-and-spirit based than pointy or intellectual criticism.
I’ve studied with exceptional teachers, including Natalie Goldberg, Lynda Barry, Zsuzsi Gartner and Karen Joy Fowler, and I work under their influence. I am an alumna of Hedgebrook, the Humber School for Writers and The Banff Centre, and I graduated from the University of British Columbia with an MFA in Creative Writing.
My first book, 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, Fashion Magazine, and a variety of newspapers and magazines. My new novel, Radiant Shimmering Light, is available in Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, and has been optioned for a television series. Kirkus Reviews called it “A killer satire . . . [and] a funny, tender, gimlet-eyed dive into the cult of self-improvement.”
Since 2011, I have been writing regularly here about creative life, work, and how to cultivate a healthy relationship to writing.
What I do:
1. I try to bring inspiration, peace, and creative satisfaction to writers who want supportive, honest, smart advice about their work. In addition to my online writing programs, I create writing prompts for daily practice and send my subscribers letters of support and instruction twice a month.
2. I challenge writers to trust their own reading, and not put too much faith in the binary system that tries to define what is “literary” and “popular” fiction. I want writers to brazenly go out and read anything and everything that catches their eye, so they can then go and write the books that they want to read.
3. I help writers get out of their patterns, take risks with style and content, help them recognize and eradicate their own clichés, stereotypical story lines, and other habits. I encourage writers to find out what makes them unique, and teach them how to embrace it.
4. 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.
I am represented by Samantha Haywood of Transatlantic Agency.
I’m an inclusive feminist.
I’m a dual citizen of Canada and the United States.
I’m a Virgo.
I’m an Enneagram type 1.
I am a lifelong student of mystery, uncertainty, not-knowing.
I love Fabriano paper, fountain pens, dark chocolate, and green hydrangeas.
I live on the traditional territory of the Wendat, Anishnaabeg and Haudenosaunee Peoples, adjacent to Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawk) territory, also known as Prince Edward County, Ontario.
I love receiving handwritten letters in the mail. Please send here:
P.O. Box #6271, Picton, ON, K0K 2T0, Canada
Email: I often feel overwhelmed by my inbox. But if you have something important to ask or share with me, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll get a response from me or my assistant in a few business days.
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