Kate Cayley. Credit: Livia Ambros

Hello all. I’ll be your writer in residence from now through to the end of April. You’ll see me skulking around the campus a couple of times a week.

At Sheridan, I’ll be here to read your work, to discuss it, to help you with the process of editing and rewriting, which is often much more difficult than the excitement of initially getting something down on the page. I’ll also be here just to chat. Any question you might have about writing or making a life as a writer, I’ll do my best to answer.

When I started writing, I had no mentors. This was partly stubbornness—as if I thought I had to reinvent the wheel for myself, every single time. It was also partly fear. I had never met anyone who wrote fiction, and it seemed like a closed mystery, something only very special (mostly dead) people did, that I would never be capable of. It took me a long time (and a lot of really bad writing) to find my way, and to realize that every book I admired was a teacher, and that I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time (though it often still feels that way, confronted with the blinking cursor, the empty screen). I discovered that writing is a form of magic trick, in the strict sense of something that looks easy and is learned only with great difficult over time. And that, like a magic trick, it’s something most people can learn if they try.

It helps to have people around you who will tell you some secrets that are hidden in plain sight. It helps to understand that, whatever useful thing you are told, you still might prefer to find another way. I hope to be available to you as a friendly and approachable person who can be asked any question, as the kind of mentor I wish I’d had the sense to look for. Just an informal presence to nudge your writing in a promising direction, or to remind you that you don’t need to go it alone, not all the time.

Writing is, of course, solitary. But it’s also communal. Even when you work alone, you work alongside the entire history of literature, as part of it, a challenge, a spur, and just good company. And you add to it.

Thanks for having me.