Samantha Dunn

Samantha Dunn

Instructor Biography:

Author of the memoirs Faith in Carlos Gomez: A Memoir of Salsa, Sex, and Salvation (Henry Holt and Co.) and Not by Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life, as well as the novel Failing Paris. Ms. Dunn’s articles have appeared in Los Angeles TimesO (Oprah), Ms., and Glamour, among many others. She is a recipient of the UCLA Extension Outstanding Instructor Award in Creative Writing.

Instructor Statement:

I keep a quote attributed to Ernest Hemingway by my desk: "Writing never gets any easier to do, and you can't expect it to, if you keep trying for something better than you can do." That's the best description of the writing life as I know it. I have written hundreds of articles and a couple of books and edited a few more but I still feel like a beginner every time I sit down to face a blank page. The biggest challenge for me isn't in the particulars of writing craft or technique, it's about getting out of my own way. "I can't do this, I don't dare say this, I can't allow myself to think this way, what will people think" is all part of the running internal monologue I have to hurdle to put anything worthwhile down on paper. The consequence of staying stuck in that monologue is that I don't write anything at all, or, worse yet, I churn out stale, nerveless pages that fail to serve the calling of either literature or entertainment. In this course, I'm looking forward not only to discussing the memoir as a literary form, but for each of us to at least touch on the question, "What's stopping me from saying what I really want to say?"

Our Students Say it Best! “Sam is incredibly engaging, knowledgeable, and you feel her compassion immediately.  She’s a vital teacher and writer who facilitates “a-ha!’ moments--and so fun!” -- Writers' Program student

To watch a video of Samantha reading from her work at the 2011 Writers’ Program Publication Party, click here.

Read an interview with Samantha Dunn on

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