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Member Spotlight: Amber Caron

author Amber Caron and an image of her book Call Up the Waters

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? When I find something that interests me—whether it’s a character, an image, a job, a place, some scientific fact—my way of exploring that thing is through language. In that way, writing is the way I engage with the world around me.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? When I find myself struggling with a project, there are two things that work for me. First, I read something great, something different from the project I’m working on. If I’m writing a story, I might turn to poetry. If I’m working on my novel, I might read a science essay. If that doesn’t work (or even if it does), then I head out for a walk, far away from my computer, ideally in the mountains. Repeat these two things for as long as necessary and eventually something—a word on a page, a view from a trail, the rhythm of my own steps, a conversation with another hiker, or some mysterious combination of all these things—will unlock something in my own project.

What is your favorite time to write? My best hours are in the morning, before I look at my phone or check email or look at the news, when my mind is still a little fuzzy with sleep and my internal editor hasn’t had a chance to wake up. It’s not just that these are my most productive hours but also that the work I produce in these hours is the most honest.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Writing advice is tricky because advice that has worked for me is not necessarily advice that will work for others. I honestly believe we each have to find our own way and learn to trust our own interests, lean into our own obsessions, and quiet the aggressive mind-chatter that says we need to work faster or more like someone else.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? I’m not sure this is specific to today’s age, but I’m endlessly excited about the friendships I’ve been able to build around the shared experience of writing. Here I’m thinking of people in my writing groups over the years, the editors at literary journals I’ve worked with, the students who have trusted me with their stories, the teachers who have guided me, the readers who have picked up my book. It’s been a deeply rewarding way to build a community, one that doesn’t pop up overnight but is instead built and nurtured over many years.

Amber Caron’s Call Up the Waters is out now with Milkweed Editions.