We are very excited that Stacy Dacheux will be teaching Freelance Magazine Writing: What To Expect & Getting A Query Right, Saturday 1/24/15. We had the privilege of interviewing Stacy. Read on for a good dose of wisdom.
What first motivated you to write? When did you know you wanted to devote yourself to it?
When I was in third grade, I wrote and illustrated a book about dogs. It was a small piece of a burgeoning campaign to convince my family that I was serious about dogs, so much so that perhaps they should get me one as a companion.
In high school, I moved. So, I wrote many letters to friends back home–almost a letter a day. This was before the Internet. Each letter I received opened me up and challenged me to imagine other realities and ways of seeing others’ day-to-day lives. I was hooked. I kept writing to get letters back. This intimate exchange between teenagers across the Mason-Dixon line became a huge part of my education outside of school. It allowed me to see, think, imagine, and empathize with other people’s interior worlds and private struggles.To me, writing is not just about creating or dreaming — it is about documenting life. There is a need inside all of us, I think, to express our way of being or having been. Writing has become a huge component of my documentation process–and inadvertently my growth as a human being. If I stopped writing, I would probably be a mess of a dummy. My curiosity to document this life, connect with others, and find meaning keeps me devoted to the art. I already have a dog.
Why did you decide to teach writing? What do you love about it?
Teachers are lucky people. I know this because I have worked in several different jobs/careers throughout my life. I have been an associate producer for television, a caregiver for the terminally ill, a junior editor, and I’ve also worked the graveyard shift at a homeless shelter…so I like to think that I have some perspective on the topic without too much bias.
Nothing beats teaching–especially creative writing for adults. So many of my older students have stories about how they stopped writing, somehow, life got in the way. These are my favorite students. I feel so fortunate to share this space alongside them. Imagine having 50 years of unreported life experience to express? Where would you even start? The content and point of view is always so raw, honest, and amazing. I’m always humbled.
Tell us about a teacher who impacted you as a writer and/or educator.
Ken Mikolowski. I love his attitude about writing and his genuine excitement about sharing work/art with others. He’s simple, selfless, and open. To him, writing is fun. To be with other writers is like being in a band. Every contribution is important. He doesn’t just teach theory, he lives it. That’s important to me.
What are you reading right now? What books do you recommend for writers?
Right now, on my bedside table, I have Citizen by Claudia Rankine and Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill. My favorite book of all time is Catcher In The Rye. Like many teenagers, it really inspired me to care about reading and to think about writing as a secret handshake. So, I try to re-read it each year. For my students, often, I recommend they re-read their favorite books from when they were younger as well. I suggest they look at how the language lands on the page, the sentence structures, the paragraph breaks, the chapter breaks. I also often suggest On Writing by Stephen King for those looking for some direct writing advice.
What worries you with your writing and how do you address those worries?
I’m always wanting the writing to be better or “good enough” or “better than good enough.” I think this is a normal worry. Writing appears on the page sometimes seemingly like magic. I don’t know how it gets there, but it does. I address the worry by being proactive–revising the sentences for flow, clarity, or ease. I go back and read a section from one of my favorite books and think about how the words fall, then return to my text and do the same. I’m maybe addicted to rearranging sentences and structures.
What creative projects are you working on right now?
I am working on a visual/text essay regarding abstraction, a book review, and my own first book–a collection of essays. I also love to sew. I am always whipping up pillows under pizzastacy, my alias.
Join us Saturday 1/24, 11:30a.m.-3:00p.m, for Stacy’s class: Freelance Magazine Writing: What To Expect & Getting A Query Right.