Valley Haggard

Alumna, 1990-91

Valley attended YWW in 1990 and 1991, and returned as a counselor in 1994 and 1995.

Where are you living and what brought you there?

I am living in the house I grew up in, in Richmond Virginia. After living in a dozen different places around Richmond, graduating from college in New York, working as a cabin girl on a dude ranch in Colorado, waiting tables in Arkansas and stewardessing on a cruise ship in Alaska, my path has come full circle and I am back in my original home again.

Where are you working and what do you enjoy about it?

I am the founder and co-director of Richmond Young Writers and I teach creative nonfiction classes and retreats for adults around Virginia. I also curate the website lifein10minutes.com, in which people of every background and ability send me works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry created in 10 minutes.

What do you find yourself most often reading/listening to lately and why?

Reading-wise, these days I’m following my nose and chasing down whims. After almost a decade reviewing books, it’s a great freedom to read for pleasure. Recently I read a bunch of classics I was totally ashamed not to have read before and right now I have a stack of books by contemporary female authors towering over my bed.

What are you working on right now and what does it represent in the larger body of your artistic accomplishments?

I am putting together a manuscript of my own 10 minute stories, titled A Life in 10 Minutes. I have always loved the short form, flash fiction and nonfiction, slice of life, so after years of trying to write a novel, this manuscript feels much truer to my natural state and form as a writer.

What are your publications, performances, albums, and/or achievements that seem most important to you at this point in time?

I was very honored to receive a 2014 Theresa Pollak Prize and a 2015 Style Weekly Women in the Arts Award. I’m thrilled that Richmond Young Writers is thriving in its 7th year of existence. Taking a chance on the writing life, no matter how many ramen noodles I’ve had to eat, has really paid off—in spirit, connection and finally being able to pay the electric bill, too.

How would you characterize the influence of your YWW experience in your life?

YWW had a profound impact on me that is still vital today. YWW was the first place I was treated with respect as a writer rather than a kid with a hobby and it is this spirit of respect I try to pass on to the young writers I work with today. YWW introduced me to a way of writing and interacting with language and other writers that I fell deeply in love with and credit for helping form the writer and teacher I am today.

What’s the best advice you can give a Young Writer (in general or in your specific genre)?

Try everything! Write up against the edge of your comfort zone. Keep going even when you are absolutely convinced you suck. Don’t sit on the edge of the pool longing to swim. Allow lots of room for mess and mistakes. Learn when to trust yourself and when you are your own worst enemy. Keep going.

If there’s something else you’d like to include, please add it here.

I would love to receive weird, funny, heartbreaking slice of life submissions from my YWW family at lifein10minutes.com. Please send them to me!