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Member Spotlight: Darien Hsu Gee

author Darien Hsu Gee sitting with a stack of books, smiling at the camera and an image of her book Nonwhite and Woman

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Writing is how we deepen our connection with ourselves and with others. It’s a way of getting things down so they’re not forgotten — whether it’s fiction, memoir, nonfiction, or poetry, writing is a reflection of something happening in the world. History is passed down through words and story. Writing — and reading — is what keeps me going when everything else is feeling rough. It’s a constant act of discovery, and I love that unfolding.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? First, set your environment: put your phone away, don’t check email or social media on your laptop, set a manual kitchen timer for 35 minutes. Second, retype or rewrite the last two pages of something you wrote that you are hoping to continue — a short story, an essay, your novel or memoir. If you get to the end and don’t know what to write next, rinse and repeat. Third, stop beating yourself up. Remind yourself that you are a writer — you know how to do this, you have already done this. You’re most likely a voracious reader, which means you have an innate idea of how stories are put together. Trust that to get you going again.

What is your favorite time to write? The early morning, around 4:30 am when it’s still dark but before the rest of the house is up. When I was younger, the 1-4:00 am slot was when all my neurons seemed to be firing like crazy, but I can’t pull off those hours anymore.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? You know how to do this. You know words, you understand how words work. I took this to mean that there is nothing to be intimidated by, regardless of the kind of writing you are trying to do, even if you’ve never done it before. Trust yourself to be able to do this, and to find the resources (internally or externally) to do it well.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? Writers are owning their creativity in ways we haven’t seen before. They’re exploring different narrative styles, carving innovative publication paths, and worrying less about what the traditional gatekeepers have to say. They’re also finding new ways to connect with readers, which is ultimately what it’s all about.

Darien Hsu Gee’s Nonwhite and Woman: 131 Micro Essays on Being in the World, co-edited with Carla Crujido, is out now with Woodhall Press.