Woman of the week: Sandra Hunter

Sandra Hunter is fighting the good fight and lifting us up along the way.

Photo credit Zena Fairweather

We are recognizing Sandra Hunter as our Women of the Week not because she is an incredibly talented writer (The small amount of her forthcoming novel, "The Geography of a Kitchen Table," that I was honored to read brought me stories and characters that I will carry for a lifetime), or because of her inexhaustible commitment to her community (see interview below), but because the tenacity in which she pursues her projects, and the amount she pursues and completes is truly inspiring. She is kind and compassionate, but mostly, there is a love in her heart that transcends all the ugliness of the world that we face every day. Even when I feel stretched thin, or I'm tired, I look to Sandra as an example of what you can accomplish when you commit yourself to doing good work. She makes me feel like all the things I'm trying to do are possible. I hope to be more like her, to take example from her work ethic, and, if I can be as kind and generous as her that would be pretty remarkable, too.

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Your name: Sandra

Your Occupation: Educator and writer

What you really do: Teaching: Grade s***loads of essays and explain things to students that I can count on repeating at least four times.It's also amazing when (a) discussions launch in weird and sparkly directions and (b) the students write succinct, well-organized, and insightful essays. Writing: Watch rock climbing videos and anything with Richard Ayoade. And then I actually write.

What is your morning routine? I alternate between yoga and short bike rides. Then granola and fruit, and a cup of hot water because I don't drink coffee or tea (living on the wild side). Glance through the front page of the LA Times and get really angry because of (a) the badly written articles (b) the election and (c) the pathetic news coverage of other countries.

What is your biggest dream? To be a financially independent writer. Ha ha.

What is the next goal you are actively trying to accomplish? I'm organizing a one-day poetry and fiction writers' festival at Moorpark College for April 2017. This is the first one, so we're going really low-key. Also, a Veteran's writing workshop. Inspiration came from USC's Warrior-Scholar Project that helps Vets adjust to a college environment. We don't have the resources for an entire program, but thesis statements ( such as, "I'm used to being told what to do. I've never been asked what my opinion was") we can cover. I want to do more than just send them to a writing center, and am also hoping to organize Vets' poetry group for women and publish a collection of their work. With my writing, this Fall I'm finishing my second novel and hoping to send the final draft to my publisher before the end of the year. Also collaborating with my sculptor friend, Lisa Sanders, on a hybrid fiction-sculpture project. She's an incredible sculptor and I'm jazzed as all get out that I have this chance to work with her. Name one thing, big or small, you have done recently that you are proud of: A new creative nonfiction piece that I'm being drawn into (instead of focusing on finishing the novel). It examines racial identity--mine--and inter-racism in Kenya. It just popped out in a friend's workshop. Kelly Grace Thomas and I started crying so I knew it was important to investigate. What do you struggle with most at work? With teaching it's the shed-load of grading. It takes so effing long. And I have to do it in detail because I'm obsessive and I have this delusion that the students will actually listen to/read the comments and improve their writing. With my writing I struggle with being patient with the characters who take half the book to reveal themselves.

What do you struggle with most in your personal life? Trying to be more assertive with male colleagues. I teach feminist theory in critical thinking classes, so you'd think this wouldn't be an issue. But it still is.

Who do you look up to? Where shall I start? Leymah Gbowee, Antjie Krog, Doris Lessing, Mary Rakow, Julia Margaret Cameron, Dorothea Lange, Saul Leiter, David Goldblatt, Chrissie Hynde, Hildegaard of Bingen, Clara Schumann. My cousin Kathie who has MS but is funny and upbeat and full of excitement about her new motorized wheelchair. My step-daughter, Haley, who's a bio-infomaticist and works for the VA instead of a for-profit company that would give her a six-figure salary.

What is your theme song? Anything by the Mahotella Queens.

What is your favorite beauty item? Mommy Make-Up and Latisse. I have Disappearing Eyebrow Syndrome.

What is your guilty pleasure and how often do you indulge it? Re-watching every episode of The Mighty Boosh. A lot.

Who would you nominate to be woman of the week and why?Nancy-Jean Pément, formerly an extremely talented speech-writer for the Canadian Government, now lives in Ventura County. After raising her son, now a teen, she went back to college for her doctorate. She's a (self-doubting) poet who is finally getting some recognition for her astonishing work. She is deeply involved in volunteer projects with the Ventura County community, serving on several committees including the Ventura County Poet Laureate Committee.

A gif that you feel best describes how you've been feeling lately:

------ Sandra Hunter lives in Ventura, California, where she teaches English and Creative Writing. She is the author of the literary fiction novel Losing Touch, set in 1960s London, that deals with immigrant Indians. Recent works include her collection of short fiction Small Change (August 2016), and short stories “Against the Stranger”, performed at Stories on Stage, Davis (April 2016), and “Brother’s Keeper” published by Mud Season Review (Fall 2015). She’s currently finishing her second novel, The Geography of Kitchen Tables, set in post-apartheid South Africa. More about her works at sandrajhunter.com

Want to nominate a woman who inspires you? Email us.

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