Fall Teacher Spotlight:

Jennifer McGaha

Charlotte Lit is happy to welcome Jennifer McGaha as an instructor in our fall semester — her first time teaching for us! Jennifer will be leading a one-session creative nonfiction class via Zoom called “Wild Thing” on October 15, focused on writing about the outdoors. Wiley Cash has said of Jennifer that she “makes a very convincing argument that in order to understand the unknown, writers must get up from the desk, go outside, and step into it.” Early registration for Jennifer’s class is open NOW!

Author of three books and the coordinator of the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNC–Asheville, Jennifer answered some questions so you could get to know her.

When you’re writing, what’s your favorite snack or drink? 

My coworkers (my two cats and four dogs) and I love to share a big bag of SmartPop! while we work!

Music while you’re writing: yes or no? If yes, what do you listen to?

I love many different genres of music, and I listen to music almost constantly — when I’m driving, when I’m cooking, when I’m running, etc. WNCW is always playing in our kitchen. However, I don’t usually listen to music while I’m writing. I’m easily distracted, and I feel like I really need to “listen” for the rhythms of my sentences, which I can’t do if a song I love is playing in the background. However, if I’m writing about a particular song or artist, which I do fairly often, sometimes I stop and listen to that for a while. Music breaks are the best kind — so inspiring!

What’s a book you’ve read recently that you’d recommend? Any genre!

I just read Stephanie Clare Smith’s debut memoir Everywhere the Undrowned (UNC Press), and it is stunning — lyrical and haunting and just riveting. The subject matter is difficult, but the language is so fresh and surprising, and she creates these really unique lenses through which to view her experiences. It’s so imaginative and just gorgeous. I finished it in two sittings.

What are three things that make you happy?

This one is easy: Dogs. Hikes. Ice Cream. (And, oh, my family.)

Tell us about something on your bucket list.

I would really love to hike part of the Camino one day, and I would love to take a wine appreciation course. In general, I’d like to do more adventure travel.

What’s a movie you’ve watched many times and never gotten tired of?

I love funny, uplifting, edgy movies, and though I don’t tend to rewatch movies very often, I have seen Oh, Brother Where Art Thou a ridiculous number of times. I also never seem to tire of Little Miss Sunshine. I also just watched The Taste of Things, a gorgeous French film about love and cooking and the intersection of the two, and that film may be my new obsession. I could watch it many more times. I really love documentaries, which I guess stands to reason since I’m such a fan of creative nonfiction.

What are you looking forward to in teaching “Wild Thing” for Charlotte Lit in the fall?

I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Charlotte Lit, and I’m looking forward to meeting new people and being part of this writing community. I love hearing people’s stories — all kinds of stories — and that, for me, is the most fun part of teaching any class. We get to share our stories and search for meaning in experiences we might otherwise have only skimmed the surface of, and I love that “aha!” moment when suddenly students realize there is more there than what they had originally imagined. I’m hoping for lots of that during our time together this fall!

Write about the Great Outdoors with Jennifer

WILD THING: Tuesday, October 15, 6:00–8:00 p.m., virtual via Zoom. Info and registration

This creative nonfiction workshop focuses on writing about outdoor adventures, both large and small, with an eye for exploring the transformative power of the wild. We’ll begin with generative writing activities and a few short readings, then move into sharing and discussing our work. Whether you want to begin a new project, develop existing work, or simply immerse yourself in the company of other adventurous writers, you’ll leave this workshop with new material and fresh ideas for expanding and developing your work. This workshop is appropriate for all levels of writers and adventurers including backpackers, hikers, bikers, runners, climbers, paddlers, and those who simply like to meander through the woods.

Members save $15 on this class! Log in as a member or join to receive discount.

About Jennifer McGaha

Jennifer McGaha is the author of Flat Broke with Two Goats, a 2018 OverDrive Big Library Read, and Bushwhacking: How to Get Lost in the Woods and Write Your Way Out, a Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award finalistHer next book, The Joy Document, a collection of fifty essays celebrating midlife, is forthcoming from Broadleaf Books this fall. An Appalachian native, Jennifer teaches at the University of North Carolina–Asheville, where she also coordinates the Great Smokies Writing Program. Author website