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Member Spotlight: Christine Mary Evans

author Christine Evans and her book Nadia

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Writing is a technology of thinking- a way to discover and understand the world. It’s a way to expand time, revive the dead and find patterns of meaning that shimmer behind the everyday. As a reader, it’s connected me to imaginary worlds far beyond my own small life— to other times, places, people and worldviews. We need this kind of slow, expansive thinking, and active imagination more than ever, in a time of thumbs-up, thumbs-down, click-bait, like-don’t like culture mediated by our billionaire digital overlords (who are not writers or humanists).

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? Glue bum to chair. Ideas come from writing, not the other way round. Beyond that: If I’m really stuck on a project, it usually means there’s a roadblock farther back – a piece of forced plot that’s hemmed in my characters, for example. So then I try to reconnect with my characters through free writing, ridiculous lists of “what-ifs” and so on. I think you just have to live with a project long enough for it to start speaking to you. For me, once I can see the ending, I know it will live, no matter how muddy and difficult the road to completion.

What is your favorite time to write?

I really love the rhythm of artist residencies- slow morning, bunker in after coffee and write til I’m cooked. But that’s a rare luxury. I’m not a morning person, so a mid-morning start is ideal.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? E.L. Doctorow’s view of writing the novel: Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. To which I would add: Just. Keep. Going.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? There’s such a need for books and writing- for the imagination of other worlds. There’s a lot of focus on “lived experience” these days, and I see why that matters. But un-lived experience, via imaginative engagement, is also an essential part of being a person in this world. I’m heartened that so many young people are passionate about books and writing. And despite the overwhelming challenges of our times, it’s an amazing time to be alive, and to try to think about meaning and possible futures in a melting world.

Christine Mary Evans’s Nadia is out now with University of Iowa Press.