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Member Spotlight: Ann Jacobus

author Ann Jacobus and an image of her book The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? I wanted to be a storyteller from a very early age but didn’t become a serious writer until my late thirties when I was at home with four children and could work on something at midnight or while waiting in the check-out line at Target. Clearly, I had a lot more energy then. I think stories are not just important for the world, they’re critical. It’s how we make sense of everything, and how we attempt to get our minds and hearts around difficult and dark subjects especially. Stories are what bind us together. To invoke the popular quote from Muriel Rukeyser, “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.”

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? 1. Go back to where it was still flowing–and try a different tack, or research more 2. Meditate to get to the essence of what you’re trying to say and why 3. “Fill the well” i.e. go for a walk, go to an art museum, listen to Earth, Wind, and Fire, or stop in Target

What is your favorite time to write? Early. I like to roll out of bed in my PJs over to my laptop. A change into leisurewear and general hygiene may not happen until close to lunch time. But I try to remind myself that I can write anytime, anywhere if I put my mind to it (see above).

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? To identify and follow what pulls you, even if no one else seems interested in it. Especially if no one else seems interested in it. And to write what you think you’re incapable of writing.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? That the pen is ever mightier than the sword. That I can look back over decades and see that the written word and our voices are moving the world along in the direction it needs and wants to go, despite all resistance. And personally, to never stop trying to improve my craft, to stay open and unstuck, and to come up with compelling stories.

Ann Jacobus’s The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent is out now with Lerner Publishing Group.