Previous Writer to Writer Mentees

Alisha Churbe

Alisha Churbe

Spring 2015 Session

Alisha Churbe is an author originally from Portland, Oregon, who now resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dreams of home are mixed and obscured, but she manages to write when the weather permits. Alisha can be found at and has published the short fiction piece “All Is Not Lost” in The Night, and the Rain, and the River anthology from Forest Avenue Press; the flash fiction piece “Locked Tight” at Festival Writer; and short fiction in M Review.

Alisha worked with writer Paul Pedroza.

What were your goals for this program, and how did you communicate them to your mentor?
I had many goals for the program. I wanted to get back to writing after relocating cross-country. I wanted to extend my writing community outside of the comfort of my hometown, but I wasn't ready to explore out in my new town. I also wanted to focus on revising a number of pieces that were already underway.  

How would you describe the matching process and how well matched you were with your mentor?
I feel that Paul and I were a good match. I really enjoyed getting to know him, his writing, and his process throughout the program. We worked well together. He was enthusiastic about my work and suggested readings, techniques, and advice that I'll never forget.

Was there a specific time you felt that you and your mentor "clicked"?
I felt it from the beginning. Paul and I were able to find a rhythm and cadence that worked well for me. I appreciated his honesty and willingness to point out flaws, provide guidance, and offer suggestions.  

What advice do you have for people entering the program next?
Have some goals in mind, but know that this process and your mentor might influence you in ways you haven't yet realized and that your goals might change or stretch further.  

What is something you learned from your mentor or this process? 
I learned so much that I can't begin to explain. The ten-week program went by so fast that I can hardly believe it's over. I learned a lot about my writing and process. Paul shared valuable advice about writing, marketing, and perseverance. 

What is something that happened during the session that you did not expect? 
So much. I had an idea of what I wanted to put into the program, time and effort-wise. I had an idea of what I wanted to work on and some of the topics I hoped to discuss along the way. But what I didn't know is what I expected out of the program. I got so much valuable information and a new perspective.

In what ways did this experience differ from, say, taking a creative writing class or workshop?
In a creative writing class, most times, you are learning from those around you. You spend time reading other works, reflecting on them, and critiquing other works. In this process, I spent the majority of the time focused solely on my work, reflecting on it, critiquing it, giving it attention.  

How has this experience helped your writing or work process?
I see things differently. I thought I was strong in building character and struggled with plot and description. Paul helped me learn and discover that the plot and description were difficult because I hadn't yet fleshed out my characters enough. I needed to focus on their motivation in order to make the other pieces I struggled with fall into place.  

Where will you and your mentor go from here, following the formal conclusion of the program?
Paul is generous with his time and has offered to continue working with me until I've revised this set of short stories. We will be in touch less often, but he's offered to be available to me, and I'm grateful.

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