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Teacher Spotlight: Jaye Viner

Jaye Viner lives on what used to be the plains of eastern Nebraska with two feline fur bombs and a very tall man.  She holds an MFA and MA from the University of Nebraska. Her writing has been published in DrabblecastThe Roanoke Review, and Everyday Fiction. Her first novel, Jane of Battery Park, (Red Hen Press) is a speculative romantic thriller about two people trying to fall in love and stay there despite their families.

In October, Jaye will be teaching Writing Beyond Stereotypes of Disability. Here is what Jaye has to say about this course!

Why do you enjoy teaching this class? 
I enjoy taking things that are familiar or taken for granted–like the fact that so many villains are disabled–and expanding our knowledge of that familiarity to see it with new eyes. Disability is everywhere in our world but we rarely recognize it as such because we’re so used to the way things are. Likewise, assumptions about ability are everywhere but we rarely stop to think about how they influence our lives and our writing. 

How would you describe your teaching style?
Intuitive, generative, open to possibilities and what students bring to the table.

How is each class session structured? 
The first class will warm up with a brief writing exercise that also serves as an introduction to the teaching component. I will then spend some time talking about disability representation in a lecture format. We will use the rest of the session and most of the second session to look at specific stereotypes of disability (and ability) found in our stories and explore ways to challenge them through generative writing exercises. During these exercises, students should be able to either revise writing they’ve already done or create new writing from the prompts.

Where do you draw inspiration from? (in your own writing or in your teaching style)
My writing is fed by my writing. I’m on track to read 100 books this year and probably half of what I’ve read so far has been tied to my writing practice in one way or another. I notice style, structure, and ideas when I read both fiction and non fiction. I am always imagining possibilities. I just finished Cultish by Amanda Montrell, which inspired me to do a complete manuscript revision on a WIP that I thought was finished. 

What would you want each person to leave with from taking this course?
A broader and deeper understanding of the universality of disability in the human experience, an awareness of our responsibility as writers to not perpetuate de-humanizing stereotypes of disabled people in our stories, and obviously, some good scenes/characters/and ideas for new places to take their writing.

What is keeping you going while sheltering in place?
Um, dirty secret. Disney movies? Did I just admit that. But also my cats, which is a better answer. I love getting up every day and being accountable to their simple needs. They can spend hours sitting in windows watching for birds. Sometimes, I take a breath and sit with them. 

Where will you be teaching/telecommunicating from?
Omaha, NE

Favorite book? writers? Literary pieces?
Besides Cultish, which I’m pretty over the moon about, I really enjoyed Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard.

You can check out more of Jaye’s work on her website and read about her debut novel here. Find her on Twitter @JayeViner or Instagram @Jaye_Viner. Jay will also be teaching Writing Characters Who Take Up Space starting October 10.

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