Shayla Lawson is teaching “Challenge Yourself to Write: Developing Your Writing Practice” this fall at Literary Arts, beginning September 23, 2017. Click here for full details and to register! Lawson is the author of three poetry collections: A Speed Education in Human Being, PANTONE,and the forthcoming I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean. Her work has appeared in Guernica, Colorado Review, Barrelhouse, The Journal, Indiana Review, and MiPOesias. She is the former Nonfiction Editor of Indiana Review.
Q: What inspired you to teach this class?
In my own writing practice, I have found it much easier to finish a project if I have an accountability partner. Writing is exercise. It’s so much easier to make sure you’re getting in your workout if you have a gym buddy.
Q: What part of this class are you most excited about?
I’m most excited about the dialogue. In the class we use some pretty theoretical texts about writing and writing practice to guide us. Because they are less prescriptive and more cerebral, they’ve led to some pretty deep discussions about what it means to be a writer, what types of writers we each want to become, and how writing fits into our lives along a continuum.
Q: What do you hope students will gain from taking this class?
I hope the students leave the class freed from the burden of thinking their writing practice has to take on a specific structure in order to be successful. What a writing practice looks like for each individual will be varied and uniquely satisfying.
Q: What is your favorite part of teaching?
My favorite part of teaching is watching writers discover the story they did not know they wanted to tell. I love watching artists on the brink of an epiphany.
Q: What was a class (or classes) you took that helped you as a writer/artist?
I took Nikky Finney’s Advanced Poetry workshop my first semester of my freshman year of undergrad. The course was ambitious and her curated texts still guide specific parts of my writing practice today.
Q: If you could pick one person (living or not) to be a guest speaker in this class, who would it be? (and why?)
Ai. I have a lot of respect for her investment in the dramatic monologue. Her chosen genre rests on the border-line between poetry and fiction. Plus, she wrestled for decades to keep her writing practice alive despite obstacles and obscurity. I would be really interested in know what she would have to say about the challenge of writing.