Our Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

As a precaution to help limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and care for our community, Just Buffalo Literary Center has postponed a number of events, and we will follow the guidance of Buffalo Public Schools in terms of Just Buffalo Writing Center programming.

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How to start your novel: Q&A with teaching artist Janet McNally

Author and teaching artist Janet McNally is the author of two novels, The Looking Glass and Girls In The Moon, and a book of poems, Some Girls. She’s twice been a New York Foundation for the Arts fellow in fiction, and she teaches creative writing at Canisius College.

On Monday (Feb. 17), Janet’s three-session How to Start Your Novel workshop begins—an opportunity to dive into the novel project you’ve been dreaming up and find community, inspiration, and the push to keep going. Learn more about Janet and her workshop (spots still available!) in this quick Q&A.

How long have you been a teaching artist with Just Buffalo, and what do you enjoy most about working with writers and leading workshops here?

I’ve been a teaching artist on and off since I was just out of college, but I’ve been teaching adult workshops only for the past couple of years. I love the community that Just Buffalo curates and being together with other lovers of reading and writing.

Can you describe the atmosphere of your workshops for someone who’s never done one before?

Very informal, friendly, warm. We have great conversations, do writing prompts together in a relaxed atmosphere, and get a lot done.

What books, music, movies, and art are inspiring you and your work these days?

I’m always reading, and lately I’ve loved books by Valeria Luiselli, Carolyn Forché, and Rachel Khong. I’m a huge music fan—I have to be listening while I’m writing—and this month’s playlist includes Empress Of, Orion Sun, Frances Quinlan, and Soccer Mommy.

Can you leave us with a brief writing prompt inspired by your upcoming class/teaching style?

I love to have students imagine a space inhabited by their character, to close their eyes and really see it, then get that space down on paper. It could be a bedroom, an office, a coffeehouse, or a classroom—any place where their character feels at home. If we see the spaces our characters inhabit clearly in our own minds, we can see our characters more clearly, too.

How To Start Your Novel with Janet McNally

Janet McNally’s three-session How to Start Your Novel workshop begins Feb. 17. Learn more and register here.

Just Buffalo Writing Workshops are designed for any level of writer, from beginner to advanced. Taught by established writers, hone your craft in a relaxed, nonjudgmental atmosphere. Explore the full slate of Spring 2020 writing workshops.