Darlene Foster's Blog

Interview with a prize winner!

Posted on: April 27, 2011

WritersWebWorkshop’s April newsletter features an excellent interview by Alison Acheson with Wendy Phillips, a writer-teacher-librarian from Richmond, BC, who won the 2010 Governor General’s Award for Fishtailing. Here is an excerpt I would like to share.

Alison: Welcome to WritersWebWorkshop, Wendy! To begin, how has being a teacher and librarian contributed to your writing?

Wendy: As a teacher I become involved with my students’ thoughts and voices not only through their presence in my classes and my library, but also through their writing. I learn about their home lives, their passions, their hopes, their torments through writing exercises, and when they learn I won’t broadcast their confidences through the staff room or other classes, they relax into honesty. Though the characters in my books are not based on any one student, I get a general sense of what my audience is experiencing and what conflicts they have to resolve, and those transfer to my writing.

I also read the books they care about, and that suggests to me not only of what they’re interested in reading about, but what kinds of writing appeal to them. A final consideration—both my students and I hate books that “talk down” to students. It’s a very fine balance to let the reader do the work to put the story together without making it too convoluted for an adolescent reader to understand. My work keeps me in touch with their thinking as they read, and the kids’ reactions help me find that balance.

Alison: What thoughts would you share with a young person who says they want to write? And to a 40-something who says the same?

Wendy: For both young and old, the best advice is to keep writing. As long as you write, you are a writer, and writing, as much as basketball or piano, needs practice. You may be developing, but you’re still a writer. You only fail as a writer
if you stop.

Alison: Thank you, Wendy. “You only fail if you stop”—good words! We look forward to seeing your new work in the world.

To read the full interview in the newsletter http://www.writerswebworkshop.com/admin/files/WritersWebWorkshop%20Newsletter%20for%20April%202011%20.pdf

Alison Acheson is an author and creative writing instructor. She offers a variety of on-line workshops

2 Responses to "Interview with a prize winner!"

Thanks for sharing this, Darlene!

Definitely some inspiring words!

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