Classy Talk with Whitney Otto | Fall 2014

Posted Tue, 9/02/2014 - 10:49pm by  |  Category:

ottoWhat is the title of your class? 

Life in a Teacup

What’s one thing you hope your students will take away from the class?

Something that will translate into their own writing, whatever they’re working on now—it doesn’t have to be the short fiction that we’ll be looking at in the class.

What sorts of writers will you be reading/assigning in class? Why?

Abigail Thomas Safekeeping, Elizabeth Tallent “No One’s a Mystery,” and Daniel Rhodes Marry Me.  One memoir, one story, and one collection, respectively.  They’re all accomplished examples of writing in a short form, which is harder than it appears.

Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how?

Facebook, tumblr, and I have a website.

Are any of your works online and available to the public?  

I have a couple of things online, but not much.  And I do have a pair of tumblrs: a blog & photos and words.

What’s your teaching philosophy?

To help the writer write what he or she wants to write. To that I would add what Flaubert wrote to his mistress, Louise Colet, “One must not think that feeling is everything. Art is nothing with form.”

What advice do you have about getting into the habit of writing regularly?

You aren’t really a writer until you’re writing when you don’t feel like it.  All art requires discipline, and writing is no different; you just need to find what works for you and stick with it. One of the things that works for me is the Hemingway trick of not writing myself out each time I write.  For example, if you know how a chapter goes, stop writing before you’ve written the chapter ending.  In this way, when you return to your desk, you can begin writing immediately.

What are you working on right now? Where did the idea come from?

I can’t really say.  It’s too new, but it’s inspired by my house.

What’s your favorite word in the English vocabulary? 

Ensconced. But I also am fond of ‘yes’ and ‘defenestration’ and ‘modern.’

Let’s talk writing inspiration—what’s the No. 1 thing that drives you to write?

I suppose the short version would be:  curiosity.