Writer-in-Residence Leslie Daniels to Discuss Search For Voice in Fiction

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Writer Leslie Daniels has had a convoluted career path: she’s been an actor, an improv comedian, a literary agent and a fiction editor, among other occupations.

All of those different jobs have formed her writing voice, Daniels said.

She’ll discuss her own journey and how others can find their writing voices today with her Brown Bag, “Find a Voice in the Fictional Wilds.”

Daniels is the prose writer-in-residence for Week Six at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, and her lecture will be at 12:15 p.m. August 5 on the front porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall.

Daniels’ varied career experiences make up her voice, which she said combines the “three threads” in her life: performance, psychology and publishing.

She said her work as a fiction editor and literary agent helped her see the joy in helping others find their voices.

“In those capacities, I had the thrill of helping many new writers and writing voices emerge and claim their audience,” Daniels said.

Daniels is the author of the novel Cleaning Nabokov’s House and teaches at Spalding University’s MFA program.

She also continues to work individually with writers, she said, which mostly involves helping them get past their anxieties. Her job is often to “clear the brush” away when it comes to quelling those fears and getting people to appreciate their own originality, Daniels said.

“Claiming your place as a writer comes in part from allowing your individuality to flower,” Daniels said. “My job as a teacher and writer is to encourage and support new voices. Recognition is one of the greatest gifts a writer can receive.”

It’s something Daniels has experienced in her writing life, she said.

“Each time, it’s thrilling,” Daniels said. “Some reader gets what I’m doing. My words have allowed the meaning and emotion to jump from me to you.”

Daniels hopes her lecture will be helpful even to those who don’t consider themselves writers.

“I don’t see people as not writers,” Daniels said. “I see writing as linked to story, and I think we all have a relationship with narrative.”

Part of a person’s legacy is their experiences as a human being and their stories, Daniels said, and writing those stories down makes them something one can share with others.

“I think we’re made of stories,” Daniels said.


The author Ryan Pait

Ryan Pait gets a different haircut every summer to keep the people of Chautauqua guessing. This is his fourth summer at The Chautauquan Daily, so if you’re tired of him, that’s OK. He recently graduated with his master’s degree in literature from Western Kentucky University. Don’t ask him about what he’s doing after this summer, but do ask him about the Nicole Kidman renaissance, the return of “Game of Thrones” and what he’s reading.