“Everybody is talented, original, and has something important to say.”
This is the title of the first chapter of Brenda Ueland’s 1938 classic If You Want to Write, quite possibly the warmest and most generous book on writing ever published. It remains as central to my thinking about writing as the first time I read it, and has become even more relevant with each new classroom of expectant and eager faces.
There are those who sneer at the idea of teaching new writers, or of teaching writing at all. Let them pull faces, then, as we get on with the joyous and frustrating business of getting it all down on paper. I love teaching young writers, absolute beginners, and the very anxious. I suppose it’s because I see myself as less of a capital-T teacher and more like a combination cheerleader, editor, guide, and facilitator. It’s an atmosphere of support and camaraderie, where the only difference between us is that I’ve been doing this longer—and I have a bigger desk.
But don’t get too comfortable—writing is work, and a great deal of that work is hard graft, slogging away in the dark, feeling like you’re not getting anywhere at all. That’s okay. That’s how it works. Once you accept that that’s what ninety percent of writing is about, it’s that magical ten percent that you can keep striving for—when the answer finally comes, the breakthrough occurs, the metaphor takes shape, and the sentence becomes so delicious you have to roll it around in your mouth for a while.
She enjoys working with both established writers and beginners. Outside of the traditional classroom, Jenn works one-on-one with writers who seek mentoring and/or editorial advice on works in progress, including completion of book-length projects, preparing manuscripts for consideration to publishers, and submissions to creative writing programs.
Currently Jenn is teaching fiction courses at Langara College. Check the blog on the Home page for updates.
"Jenn has been such an inspiration to my writing, supporting me with such enthusiasm and much-needed discipline. Writing workshops and workgroups can be an excellent way to improve your craft, but being at the point where I was--having over 200 pages of disorganized material--I felt that I needed more focused attention. I asked her to mentor me and it was the best decision I've made, regarding my writing process, in a long time. Despite the fact that we write in two completely different genres, she was extremely capable of not only helping me to find my voice and style, but was also truly passionate about my novel and my abilities. If you are serious about improving your writing skills, finishing that novel, or just needing a sounding board for your ideas, I'm confident that Jenn will be able to help."
— Shalon Sims, Writer and Educator
If you are interested in Jenn's teaching services contact her here.