Digging For Story With Journalist Natasha Vargas-Cooper
Natasha-Vargas Cooper has discussed topics ranging from bath salt addictions towards the real-life Don Draper for publications such as the Ny Times, Atlantic Monthly, Wall Street Journal, and The Awl, for starters. She also hosts an excellent monthly storytelling show called Public School where she�s been recognized to share more personal stories like the time she wrote a Marxist letter to Santa.
Natasha brings substance and context to popular culture obsessions, highlights important issues, and is also an expert of spinning an engaging yarn. This January, Natasha is going to be teaching two classes at Writing Pad! Come along for any 1-day class around the art with the Personal Essay on Wed., Jan. 15 along with a 5-week class starting Wed., Jan. 22 that will end in you joining the ranks of 40 Writing Pad Alums who have been published on the internet including Marie Claire, Salon, and the LA Times! Los Angeles
Natasha took some time out of her busy freelancing schedule to see us how she crafts compelling tales and how she turned her blog musings right into a successful journalism career!
You studied history and public policy and worked being a union organizer away from college. How do you build your first foray into writing?
During college I fanatically kept your blog - musings on movies, books, fashion, my nerve grinding classmates. An editor at E! Online followed along and offered us a modest sum to start reviewing movies for that site. I did this happily when things were slow with my union job (in Washington DC post-college) I'd freelance for northeastern magazines as a critic according to my body of labor I used to be able to build with E! Online.
A professional writing job was like a film critic for E! Entertainment. Was it a culture shock, getting into that world in the one you�d come from?
I�ve been a devotee of popular culture and after this much noble work all week it had been fun to experience fashion police on my off time.
How does your past experience as a union organizer inspire your writing?
Witnessing the spectrum of human behavior through organizing campaigns- from cowardice, mini despotism, to great displays of solidarity and empathy- inspires my work. I enjoy find stories that encompass those elements.
You started a storytelling show called Public School. How do you enter into storytelling?
An integral part of being a union organizer has been able to get workers to purchase their particular narratives. I primarily dealt with healthcare workers. What built them into become nurses? What section of their expectations weren't being met and why? The other times in their life did they should confront authority figures? How did they find courage to heal the sick? You learn these stories, just as their co-workers, also it creates a group who identifies their demands, struggles, and successes together. When i left organizing, I still wished to hear and draw out people�s stories. Therefore i found a bar that will allow that take place once per month!
What are a few of the challenges of employing real-life material, both in personal essays for print as well as on takes place?
You reveal yourself, even though you�re not covering yourself or talking about yourself. Your sentences are just like handing away pieces of your used laundry. Any one who is focusing are able to see the stray threads and cat hairs. Perhaps the most ardent exhibitionist has some feeling of bashfulness and even retain some mystery. However that sort of vulnerability is also important invigorating and human.
You began a prosperous blog according to Mad Men that converted into a critically acclaimed book. How did that evolve?
That was partly accident. I studied Last century American history by having an increased exposure of mid-century advertising so it�s always been an obsession of mine and I had tons of books, materials, magazine cut outs, and reservoir of 60's ephemera.Writing Workshop LA I slipped into a sort of depression in '09 and desired to numb out, therefore i just started blogging every reference inside the show. If Don Draper mentioned a Volkswagen ad, I�d get the original print campaign online or in a library and would type the back story, etc. This got popular and I have a call from someone at Harper Collins and they said do you want to make this a book, and that i said, sure you will want to. And that i wrote the ebook plus it was good.
You do hard news and investigative journalism as well as the fun culture stuff. How can you switch hats? Is the a standard thread between each style of writing?
In cultural stuff- movie reviews, book criticism, think pieces about Miley Cyrus- you may be supremely authoritative because it's pure feeling. And you know very well what you're feeling when you react to a bit of art or trash along with your own feelings are enough to create. You don�t need experts to weigh in. You know how you felt about Spring Breakers in the event it was over. That�s all you need. Investigative journalism requires far more and also you rarely would be the authority, instead you're an assembler of all different facts, feelings, experts, contradictions, etc.
What is your opinion makes for a great personal essay?
When the author could make distinction between their particular therapeutic needs and good storytelling. An individual essay ought to be compelling because of the content as well as the writing, not merely as a result of author�s catharsis.
What advice are you experiencing for aspiring writers?
Read and steal. Imitate until you feel comfortable and your own voice actually starts to comes through. Start with a noun.
Thanks, Natasha! That was fascinating. We look forward to your 1-day and 5-week Personal Essay classes in January! Go through the links to enroll in Natasha�s classes before they are out of stock.