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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Cai Emmons

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world?
Stories give shape to the chaotic and emotional events of our lives: the loves, the losses, the births, the deaths, even the humdrum events of the work day. Once a story has been told about a particular event, that event takes on meaning, and along the way we might be amused, or comforted, or given hope. I write because I adore the meditative engagement (flow?) I experience when I’m doing it, and because it helps me make sense of the roller coaster of sorrow and joy we call “the human condition.”

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block?
Reading the work of other writers I love is a pretty reliable way of jump-starting a writing day. I have a Tupperware tub of favorite books under my bed and on difficult days–and even sometimes on not difficult days–I will take one these books, read a paragraph or two, and then I’m back at it, excited again, as if a weakening pilot light has been reignited.

What is your favorite time to write?
I write first thing in the morning before interacting with the world in any significant way (no internet or email, no conversation). Propped up in bed, coffee by my side, I write longhand.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers?
“Imagine more deeply.” Michael Cunningham. He said this at a lecture I attended, and it has proven to be an incredibly useful, deceptively simple, bit of advice. When I run into a dead end, I can almost always burn past it by sitting with the situation, clearing the inherited cultural drek from my brain, and delving more deeply into my imagination.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age?
Well, I think this is a more difficult time to be a writer than it has been in the past, due to diminishing remuneration and flagging readership. That said, it is *always* a good time to be a writer, armchair explorers that we are!

Cai Emmons’s Vanishing is out now with Leapfrog Press.