Sonal Champsee

Sonal Champsee’s short fiction and essays have been published in anthologies and magazines such as The New Quarterly, Ricepaper, and Today’s Parent. She was a finalist for the Writer’s Union of Canada’s 2017 Emerging Writers Short Prose contest, and has had a play produced in Seattle. She served on the PRISM International Editorial Board for five years, and has been a creative writing instructor for Sarah Selecky’s Writing School since its inception. Sonal lives in Toronto and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC.

As a writing teacher, I’m known for my honesty, my humour, and my penchant for swearing.

The thing I enjoy most about teaching is helping writers get out of their way. You see, everyone has a reason—often multiple reasons—why they aren’t really a writer. Some common ones are:

    • I don’t write every day
    • My writing is not good enough
    • I don’t know anything about craft
    • I write little things here and there, but that doesn’t count because of [reasons]
    • I’m haven’t tried to publish anything
    • I keep getting rejected
    • I don’t think I can make it as a writer and so it’s really just a hobby and therefore I am not really a real writer

And it becomes self-perpetuating. If I am not a real writer, then how can I justify putting any time and effort into writing? There are so many things I legitimately have to do. Work. Take care of my family. Catch up on my Netflix. What is the point?

The point is writing.

Every writer has reasons why they couldn’t possibly be a writer, and yet none of them have entirely given up on writing. There is still something that calls them back, that says, yes, you are meant to write, even if it feels uncomfortable and pretentious to admit to that. (“I am meant to write.” “Can I read your book?” “Uh….”)

The something that calls you back is what makes you a writer. All the other ideas in your head about why you are not legitimately a writer are bullshit.

That something that insists that you are meant to write is your voice, your instincts as a writer. The thing that gets overshadowed by all the other ideas in your head about what writing is supposed to be. My work with you is to help you trust that voice, and to find a way to put its best self on a page.

That is where the Story Intensive comes in. There are many ways to get feedback and learn craft—we do a lot of that in the Intensive. But we do all of this through the lens of that something that says you should write.