Are you ready to show up in a big way for the book you feel called to write?
Today I’m excited to speak with Spark Your Story Intensive graduate, Rayya Liebich, who recently won two literary awards for her creative nonfiction.
Tune in to learn how Rayya was able to:
- Open up to new stories
- Change the way she felt about her writing life and
- Become a more brave and empowered writer
after enrolling in the Spark Your Story Intensive.
In ‘Do You Feel Lonely As A Writer? Here’s How You Can Feel Less Isolated’, you’ll learn:
- Where Rayya was with her writing before she decided to join the Spark Your Story Intensive.
- How Rayya dealt with feeling isolated as a writer.
- How the Spark Your Story Intensive was able to help Rayya on her journey as an award winning writer.
- A message from Rayya to anyone considering signing up for the Spark Your Story Intensive.
Resources Featured In This Episode For Writers:
- Check out this free training for memoir writers.
- Apply to the Spark your Story Intensive.
- Follow me on Instagram!
- Email me!
- Sign up for my email list!
Interview transcript with Spark Your Story Intensive graduate, Rayya Liebich, who recently won two literary awards.
Are you ready to show up in a big way for the book you feel called to write? Today I’m excited to speak with Spark Your Story Intensive graduate, Rayya Liebich, who recently won two literary awards for her creative nonfiction.
I’m Nicole and I help writers craft brilliant stories and share them with the world.
Meet Rayya Liebich, Spark Your Story Intensive alumna + award-winning essayist.
Nicole: I’d love to start by allowing you to introduce yourself, Rayya.
Rayya: I’m Rayya Liebich, I live in Nelson, BC, traditional territory of the Sinixt, the Syilx and the Ktunaxa Nation. My pronouns are she/her and I’m a poet, a writer, an educator and thanks to Nicole’s classes I’m currently obsessed with all forms of non-linear creative nonfiction.
Nicole: Wonderful! That was a great introduction. I’d love for you to tell us just a little bit about where you were with your writing before you decided to join the Spark Your Story Intensive.
Rayya: Sure. So I was lucky to have taken a few of Nicole’s classes in the past and had discovered these great forms that really helped unlock a lot of the stories that I wanted to write about. But when I saw there was an intensive it came at a great time because I had just finished a big draft of a memoir manuscript that I’d been working on for quite a few years and it was kind of a lull in my writing life. I knew that I needed some form of motivation, structure and support to not feel in a bit of a rut of “what do I do now after all my big energy is gone and I’m not sure what I even want to write about next?”
So there was this pause and a little bit of panic and it felt like taking this class would just open me up to who knows what. Something – some writing – would come.
Nicole: What were your biggest struggles with writing at the time?
Rayya: I think as much as I love to be a loner and to have this writerly life it’s easy for me to feel isolated and alone. Self-directed work is really hard for me so I know that when I sign up for classes or I connect even with just one teacher or mentor it really helps me show up. Show up to the page, show up to my craft. It keeps me focused and it really gives me a lot of energy. And along the lines of energy, I write definitely into my hard stories. That’s probably why I write – to make sense of the hard things that have happened to me and that work is really exhausting. It’s actually clinically scientifically exhausting. So I find that when I’m really writing a lot it’s great and it’s very tiring. So finding classes and people to connect with in the writing life really gives me a lot of energy. I know that to continue on this path I need a lot of energy and support. So that’s kind of how I work around the struggles that I’m really familiar with now.
Nicole: What was it about the Spark Your Story Intensive that attracted you to the program in particular?
Rayya: I think it was really the format that you’ve set up so well with your courses. So it’s very structured but there’s also a lot of room to come to the work in your own way at your own time at your own pace. I love that there’s craft, written explanations, readings, and good questions. And there’s also a weekly assignment. Being accountable and having a weekly assignment really helps me show up. And I loved having the feedback from Rowan McCandless for everything that I sent in and having a connection to a writer who I trusted with my difficult vulnerable stories.
I was really excited at the idea of working towards a portfolio even though I had no idea what that would be. I kind of tried to let go of knowing or expecting. I just knew that at the end I would have something and that you would take the time to look at it and offer some feedback, which is a really amazing gift for writers. To have someone look at their work and talk to them about it and maybe point them in the next direction. So it felt like really the way that you’ve designed your class and your platform I knew would work for me really well and that I’d get so much out of doing it.
Nicole: What has changed internally for you since doing the Spark Your Story Intensive?
Rayya: I think a lot of things have changed internally. Mostly probably how I feel about my writing life. So I feel like before I always had a sense that my way of going about my writing or my life wasn’t the common path. And sometimes I felt like maybe if only I could follow the traditional arc storyline or if only I could write fiction it would be so much easier to be in this world. But I feel like all the classes that I’ve taken with you have really allowed me to show up how I am, with my own neurodiverse ways of being in this world. And all of these non-linear forms are just the natural way for me to enter my stories and I think they’ve allowed me to come to really difficult stories in a very natural way and allowed me to feel like this is my gift. It’s not always easy to be different in the world but it also is a gift and when you’re given the tools to run with those gifts it’s really empowering. So I feel like I really have a prouder sense of these weird forms that I write in. I think they’re the coolest and I’m really glad that I have them in my toolkit.
Nicole: How has the Spark Your Story Intensive had an impact on your life? Has there been an external transformation?
Rayya: I think that after taking your intensive I found a lot more courage in putting my work out in the world. I decided that I was going to submit to pretty much any creative nonfiction competition I came across. I haven’t won any* but I’ve been shortlisted I think seven times in the last year, which is a lot. And it’s almost like the act of submitting a story is an affirmation to yourself that I may not win… I probably won’t … but my story is worthy of being read and it’s worthy to be in the world. That practice feels really really good for me and when I’m submitting to journals and I’ve had two of my essays published since your class it’s also that act of putting it out there knowing it’s competitive. Being okay that it’s going to be rejected before it’s accepted. But that feels like a really important part of the writing life to get used to and I feel like I’m getting more and more used to it. It’s not always easy but I’m much more willing to show up and do that hard work.
* As of this interview Rayya won two creative nonfiction awards.
Nicole: What would you tell someone who was considering signing up for the Spark Your Story Intensive?
Rayya: I would say do it! Do it! Don’t wait! Do it right now! I feel like there are so many amazing tools that I had never come across as someone who had been writing and teaching writing for a long time. The structure really works. The support you’ll receive is so great both during the class with a teacher who you get to know, classmates who you get to meet on Zoom, and then this really professional support at the end of a program where you have a collection of work and someone can help you decide how to put it together or where it could go next. It’s just a very supportive and super energizing program. So if you feel like you want more time to write or more energy to write but it’s hard, the Spark Your Story Intensive can be a really amazing catalyst for your writing.
Nicole: Thank you so much, Rayya!
CLICK HERE to apply for a spot in the Spark Your Story Intensive!