The Artist: Donna Hanelin |

The Artist: Donna Hanelin

The Union photo/Gary Law Donna Hanelin
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

What is your career and your current job title? I have my own business teaching creative writing. Job title: teacher and writer.

Describe in a sentence or two your art. I consider both teaching and writing “arts;” as writer, my art appears as poetry, short fiction and essay. Most of the essays are about writing, sometimes I call them “teaching notes.” Poetry and fiction, I hope, reflect and celebrate bits of human life.

How long have you been working in this discipline? Most of my life. By the time I was 14, I imagined I would be a writer; it just took a while for me to catch up with my own imagination.

Why do you do it? It’s about the only thing I know how to do is one possible answer. I also have a need to write in order to feel my way through this world. Writing helps me to understand and enjoy life.

What do you hope to accomplish? I hope to have a book of short stories published in the next year or two.

I tend to be one of those “each day is its own accomplishment” people – much of the sense of accomplishment I derive from writing is in the moment of putting words on paper.

Do you create your art with an exact message you want the viewer to receive, and, if yes, what is that message? I have an image, an idea and/or a feeling I am trying to make available to others through the use of language. Each piece is its own little message. It feels very good when someone hears it and responds.

Where do you want to be with your art, in terms of part time versus full-time status, art positions and where your works are seen? For now I’m at ease with the balance of my life. I teach part time and write part time. I like my position.

What kind of special training did you take? I have a degree from University of California-Santa Barbara, college of creative studies, in literature and writing with a minor in art.

What’s your favorite part of your endeavors? Writing itself, pen on paper, keyboard under fingers. Teaching itself, other people who are fascinated with language sitting with me in a room, talking and writing.

What’s your least favorite part of your endeavors? The business part of business – advertising.

How many hours a day, or more appropriate, a week, do you spend on your work? I don’t keep track of hours – in one way or another, most of my time is taken up with work. Good thing I love my work!

Any other comments you’d like to include? For more information about classes and workshops, my Web site is or call 265-8799 for paper copy.

I also urge anyone interested in writing to attend programs sponsored by Literature Alive! and the Nevada County Poetry Series – it’s a great help to see other writers in action!


To suggest a western Nevada County artist to be spotlighted in this feature, contact Carol Feineman at or 477-4232.

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