Christina Cha lives and writes her fiction in San Francisco. Currently, she earns her living as a copy editor and a writing coach. Two of her favourite reading experiences: The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles (Julie Andrews) in 1981 and Teaching A Stone to Talk in 2009 (Annie Dillard). She aspires to catch the *something* she felt from those stories and give something like it back.
I love the writers I meet through the Story Intensive. We know this: we are all stripped and exposed and raw when we write with honesty and vulnerability, pulling from the deep and mysterious wherever-fiction-comes-from place. (If you are writing fiction, you can’t hide. You are there on the page.) It’s so terribly risky, but so gratifying to communicate from here, meeting writer to writer. This is my favorite part of being a teacher.
The Story Intensive—its format, its participants, its Sarah-ness—holds this seemingly paradoxical vulnerable yet safe and supportive space. We are all finding our balance on the same vast, exhilarating, and terrifying wave and (ideally) are so engaged in our own ride that we can only look over at our comrades and yell woohoo and marvel together. This, to me, seems to be the Story Intensive effect. I love this. Because if you are devoting time to your writing, having fun and taking risks, there is no room for judgment or competition or all that ego ego blah blah that kills the writing. There is room for awe, virtual high fives, good writing.
I watch students get churned up by the writing practices (with excitement or resistance) into a delicious state of fertile chaos, and I am forced (in a welcome way) to read work-in-progress from as open a place as it takes to write. Whether I’m reading a short exercise or the story drafts, I am pulled in and pulverized and put back together with a few missing pieces, or maybe a few extra (again, in a welcome way). And from there, I get to give feedback. it’s sun-in-the-brain-blasting, endurance-testing fun.
This is the thing I always say to my writing comrades: in my experience so far, those who write or want to write have a NEED to write. This high-stakes need creates minefields of resistance. And to be a part of helping navigate through this, and watching someone go from a state of not-writing to writing, from wherever they started, is *@$&! beautiful. I very much enjoy making war on the inner critic, who tries to trap us in sneaky thought loops to convince us not to do this thing we love. I shake my fist, rattle my spear, blast a mystical evil-banishing light against the obscuring forces of resistance to help writers (myself included) write what they want to write from their most direct, unfiltered, honest place.
I love the mysteries of the writing process. I love making up goofy metaphors for writing and not-writing. Also, if you end up in my class, I will fall in glowing, beaming writer love with you. I can’t help it.