My grand passion is helping my students find their narrative voices.
It’s the best. I’ve taught creative writing at the George Washington University and am currently on the faculty of my alma mater, the Johns Hopkins MA in Writing Program, where I teach fiction techniques. I also teach at various conferences and workshops, including the Faye Moskowitz Summer Writers’ Retreat where I was also a student.
The College Essay Workshop
In 2017, I founded the college essay workshop, after fifteen years of teaching creative writing courses and working individually with teens on their essays. Most college applicants assume that they must dazzle admissions officers with tales of climbing Mt. Everest, escaping a near death experience, or inventing the Post-it note. Not so!
The best essays work because they showcase the student’s voice. To my delight, I discovered that a rigorous and supportive environment helped kids find and tune their narrative voices and cull their life experiences for defining moments, big and small. By the end of each session, students will have completed a draft of a Common App essay, jump-started the entire application, and strengthened their writing skills. Here is a link to a piece I wrote for Your Teen for Parents that further explains my approach to the process.
An admissions officer actually wrote my daughter a note to compliment her on the quality of her essay. When does that happen?
MY #1 TIP:
Honor the particulars, holy and minute.
I remind my students, and myself, to attend to the world like a writer. This means paying close attention to the particulars of daily life: the scent of fresh rain, the taste of black licorice, or the laughter peeling from three seats back on the bus.
It means exercising our observation muscles. Every single day.