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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Dominic Smith

author Dominic Smith and an image of his book Return to Valetto

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? For me, writing is a vehicle for paying attention to the world around me and building empathy with human experiences different than my own. It’s an important medium for the world because it connects us with each other and with our individual and shared stories.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? Writer’s block feels inevitable at various points in a project or between projects. I try to take the pressure off myself by just focusing on a fixed schedule to write each week, and trusting that inspiration will come out of the work. I focus on the line level, just trying to make one good sentence at a time. In some ways, I approach it a little bit like exercise or house cleaning, knowing that the anticipation can be worse than the actuality!

What is your favorite time to write? Early mornings, before the house is awake.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? When I was a graduate student, I was lucky enough to have Denis Johnson as a teacher. He used to say “The more you talk about a work in progress, the less is progresses.” That has always seemed like sage advice and something I try to follow.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? Connecting with readers continues to be the most gratifying part of writing for me.

Dominic Smith’s Return to Valetto is out now with Farrar, Straus and Giroux.