Shannon won first prize at the 2014 Eden Mills Writers’ Festival literary contest. Since then, her stories have appeared in The New Quarterly, Joyland, and Matrix Magazine. She is hard at work on her first collection of stories, as well as a novel. She lives in Toronto where she is forever cuddling animals and eating burritos.
I want students to give themselves permission to identify as Writers. Not as “posers” or “impostors” or “wannabes” or “hacks”—but as real-life, actual Writers, whose voice and work is as valid as any writer they cherish. (My shining moment last semester was when a student told me that when filling out a form at the doctor’s office, when asked to list her occupation she wrote: “Writer”. For the first time.)
● I want to support writers in the realization that while in life we work to minimize chaos (which is a good thing), in our writing those same fears do not serve us, and that, actually, we should go towards things that scare us. We should go anywhere we feel pulled! I want to show them how writing is the place to take giant risks.
● I want to create and maintain a safe space for writers to take those beautiful risks, and to feel like they are surrounded by equally passionate writers who are also being brave and taking risks.
● I want to gently remind writers who are feeling resistance that what separates them from any writer they cherish is boring old “hard work” (though it can be dressed up with different words, such as: commitment, drive, perseverance, etc.) I want to be there to remind them that concepts like “God-given talent” are overrated, that hard work is the great equalizer, and that the vast majority of adored writers just work their butts off. Which is something we can all do.
● I want to witness writers creating work they feel curious about and proud of, and that feels true and dear to them. Work they did not know they had in them! I want to be there for the joy that comes from sharing work with other people, and sending/receiving authentic feedback. Selfishly, I want to read newborn stories that still have that “new story” smell. Stories that dazzle me with their curious inclinations. Stories that don’t fully know what they are yet.