Jennifer Manuel

Jennifer has published short stories in PRISM international, Room Magazine, and The Fiddlehead. She’s been a Western Magazine Award Finalist for Fiction. Her first novel, The Heaviness of Things That Float, was released with Douglas & McIntyre in Spring 2016. For the past several years Jennifer has worked as a schoolteacher in the most northern and western corners of British Columbia. A lot of her writing explores life at these remote edges, often focusing on the Aboriginal student/non-Aboriginal teacher relationship, which she sees as fruitful yet ultimately flawed.


Underneath my old writing self, prior to being a Story Is a State of Mind alumnus, was a shaky base of belief. After years of teaching children and adults, I knew that no amount of good intention results in growth if it is not underscored by a belief in yourself, a sense of self-efficacy. I needed a stronger belief that I could grow into a different writer, a better writer, one that loved the process while deftly handling the craft.

Story Is a State of Mind changed everything for me. It bridged ideas and practice so that I finally got to know why I was doing something, what I might try doing, and the process for how to do it.

Finally, I trusted my own writing.

The growth did not always come easy for me. Yes, I was excited and inspired by the valuable information and exercises found in Story Is a State of Mind. But I felt resistance, too, and part of my growth as a writer was in learning to work past this resistance. I now love to encourage students who might, for example, resist freewriting. Because I get it. I get why some people refuse to truly embrace the process at first. I know how that inner tension arises each time they try it. But I also know what it feels like to come out the other side. Simply put, I could not have written or published the work I have without the practices that I first resisted as a Story Is a State of Mind student. And now I take pleasure in sharing the experience, facilitating the process in others, offering insights and extra tips, pointing writers to additional resources to help them grow in this way.

Everybody’s writing deserves dedication. It is something to be honoured. If writers engage deeply with the Story Is a State of Mind experience, they will break through barriers. I know this. I’ve done this myself. I’ve seen this in others. It is a remarkable thing to be a part of.