Digging For Story With Journalist Natasha Vargas-Cooper
Natasha-Vargas Cooper has discussing topics ranging from bath salt addictions to the real-life Don Draper for publications just like the Ny Times, Atlantic Monthly, Wall Street Journal, and also the Awl, for example. She also hosts a fantastic monthly storytelling show called Public School where she�s been recognized to share more personal stories including the time she wrote a Marxist letter to Santa. Los Angeles
Natasha brings substance and context to pop culture obsessions, highlights important issues, and is an authority of spinning a compelling yarn. This January, Natasha will probably be teaching two classes at Writing Pad! Come along to get a 1-day class about the art of the Personal Essay on Wed., Jan. 15 and a 5-week class starting Wed., Jan. 22 which will lead to you joining the ranks of 40 Writing Pad Alums who've been published on the internet including Marie Claire, Salon, as well as the LA Times! Los Angeles
Natasha took time from her busy freelancing schedule to see us how she crafts compelling tales and just how she turned her blog musings into a successful journalism career!
You studied history and public policy and worked being a union organizer out of college. How do you build your first foray into writing?
During college I fanatically kept a blog - musings on movies, books, fashion, my nerve grinding classmates. An editor at E! Online followed along and offered me a modest sum to start out reviewing movies for your site. I did this happily so when things were slow with my union job (in Dc post-college) I'd freelance for east coast magazines like a critic according to my figure of labor I was capable of build with E! Online.
Your first professional writing job was like a film critic for E! Entertainment. Could it have been a culture shock, getting into that world from the one you�d result from?
I�ve always been a devotee of pop culture after this much noble work all week it was fun to try out fashion police on my off time.
So how exactly does your consider your experience like a union organizer inspire your writing?
Witnessing the spectrum of human behavior through organizing campaigns- anything from cowardice, mini despotism, to great displays of solidarity and empathy- inspires my work. I love to find stories that encompass dozens of elements.
You started a storytelling show called Public School. How have you enter storytelling?
An integral part for being a union organizer is being able to get workers to invest in their particular narratives. I primarily worked with healthcare workers. What made them become nurses? What part of their expectations were not being met and why? The other times in life did they need to confront authority figures? How did they find courage to heal the sick? You learn these stories, just like their co-workers, plus it creates a group who identifies their demands, struggles, and successes together. After I left organizing, I still wished to hear and draw out people�s stories. Therefore i found a bar that would allow that to happen monthly!
Exactly what are some of the challenges of using real-life material, in the personal essays for print and on happens?
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. Anybody who is focusing can easily see the stray threads and cat hairs. Perhaps the most ardent exhibitionist has some feeling of bashfulness and also retain some mystery. However that kind of vulnerability can also be important invigorating and human.
You began an effective blog according to Mad Guys that converted into a critically acclaimed book. How did that evolve?
Which was partly accident. I studied Twentieth century American history with an focus on mid-century advertising so it�s been an obsession of mine and that i had a lot of books, materials, magazine cut outs, and reservoir of 60's ephemera. I slipped right into a type of depression in 2009 and wished to numb out, therefore i just started blogging every reference inside the show. If Don Draper mentioned a Volkswagen ad, I�d find the original print campaign online or with a library and would type in the back story, etc. This got popular and i also had a call from someone at Harper Collins plus they said would you like to make this a book, and that i said, sure why don't you. And that i wrote the book also it was good.
You are doing hard news and investigative journalism plus the fun culture stuff. How do you switch hats? Is the a typical thread between both styles of writing?
In cultural stuff- movie reviews, book criticism, think pieces about Miley Cyrus- you will be supremely authoritative because it is pure feeling. And also you understand what you are feeling whenever you react to an item of art or trash along with your own feelings are enough to create. You don�t need experts to weigh in. You probably know how you felt about Spring Breakers if this was over. That�s all you need. Investigative journalism requires far more and you also rarely will be the authority, instead you're an assembler of all the different facts, feelings, experts, contradictions, etc.
What do you think produces a good personal essay?
If the author will make distinction between their particular therapeutic needs and good storytelling. A personal essay needs to be compelling as a result of content and the writing, not just due to the author�s catharsis.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Read and steal. Imitate until you feel comfortable and then your own voice starts to comes through. Start with a noun.
Thanks, Natasha! That was fascinating. High quality to your 1-day and 5-week Personal Essay classes in January! Click the links to enroll in Natasha�s classes prior to being sold out.