Writing Coach Interview: Lora Fanning
Continuing our series of interviews with our fabulous writing instructors, here’s the latest installment: an interview with the wonderful Lora Fanning!
Lora has a history degree from Mary Washington University and an unfortunate familiarity with chemises due to long days in costume as a docent at living history museums. She nurtures the next generation of wordsmiths around the world as a writing instructor for Brave Writer and as a teacher for local middle and high school co-ops. She practiced her storytelling for 11 years on her blog where she wrote about her full-time gig as a wife to her Superman and mother to seven kids.
What kind of a writer were you in high school?
I was usually the English teacher’s pet. It was instinctive for me, and both my parents are wordsmiths, so I didn’t think it was a big deal. But I definitely relied on my professor mom to help me edit, so that probably improved my grades a bit.
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
The shade of blue grey where the sky meets the ocean. The ocean is my happy place. It makes me feel so small, yet is so grounding. It makes me fling my arms wide in worship.
What is one of your favorite classroom moments?
Online: It’s when the parent of that one kid, the one who has struggled from day one, sends you the update that there was a light bulb moment – they grabbed the pencil and dove in. I usually do a lot of fist pumping and air-fives while sitting at my desk.
In-Person: I love doing the Mixed Media Journaling (from Journaling Jumpstart) in my co-op classes. I play music and the kids get lost in words and creativity and the room fairly buzzes with peaceful energy. It’s a joyful mess.
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What inspires you?
Laughter. I love getting a laugh, hearing a laugh, feeling a laugh bubble up to the surface.
What are you known for?
Probably my big family. And my love of chocolate. I say that because every year on my birthday, all of the people who know and love me best give me the same thing: chocolate.
What do you work toward in your free time?
Working on novel #2!
What would your autobiography be called?
Peanut Butter in the Freezer and Other Ways I Lost My Mind.
If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?
Which superpower would you like to have? What is a superpower you already have?
I’d Be Captain More Hours In My Day but really I am Wonder Finder of Shoes.
Where would you go in a time machine?
If you could be Batman or Robin, which one would you be?
Robin – I’m a good helper, but I’m also comic relief.
If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why?
Maple. The prettiest leaves.
What do you think of garden gnomes?
I actually prefer my Garden Pig, a little garden sculpture we found in my yard when we moved in. We plant bulbs in him every year.
If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?
Lizzy Bennet. Duh.
What would the name of your debut album be?
I can’t think of a name, but a hat tip to my favorite TV show The West Wing means it should be “Single-celled Paramecium.”
What’s your favorite smell? What memory does it remind you of?
Lilies. My honeymoon.
What was your favorite toy growing up?
My dress up clothes (mostly prairie style, shout out to Little House on the Prairie) and my imagination.
What’s the one food you could never bring yourself to eat?
Cake or pie?
Cake. Chocolate or don’t even speak to me about it.
If you don’t know the words to a song, do you improvise?
I prefer a good illegible mumble-hum.
When you were little, what did you want to be?
Teacher and Broadway star.
What book on your shelf is begging to be read?
It’s not on my shelf yet, but I’ve pre-ordered Lauren Willig’s The English Wife.
What is one of your family’s wackiest traditions?
We eat dinner by candlelight in December, even if it’s just mac’ n cheese. On December 1, we eat by a single candle. We add a new candle every day until, by December 25th, my table looks like it’s gone up in flames.
We also usually just have a Christmas tree dragged in from the woods. I prefer them to be naked hardwoods. It started from a need to save money, but we found we really enjoy the look of a bare-branched tree all gussied up with lights and ornaments.
What’s something you’d like us to know about managing life while homeschooling a large family?
Nobody does it all. Decision fatigue is real and it can steal your joy. Outsource, plan out a solid routine and stick to it, and be ok with “good enough.” Remember that homeschooling makes you a Work-At-Home mom and adjust your expectations of what you can do in a day. I’m still learning these lessons (usually the hard way), because one thing about homeschooling, it changes every six months. Just when you get the hang of something, somebody bumps up a grade level, has a growth spurt, or discovers that fractions are hard. So you adjust, re-learn what you thought you knew, and hang on for the adventure!