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Member Spotlight: Ellen Cooney

author Ellen Cooney and an image of her book A Cowardly Woman No More

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Writing to me is being alive in words. It’s that simple. Writing, and reading, mean being alive. And after you do the writing and the reading, you’re a little more alive than you were before (or maybe even a lot).

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? When I’m having a hard time with whatever I’m working on–the sort of hard time when you think words will never again come out of your fingers, or words are coming easily but they’re all the wrong words–I walk around with headphones on, listening to some piece of music (or many pieces) I never heard before. I have fantasies of being a composer. It usually ends up with me realizing if I were a music composer, I’d go read something when no composing was happening. I’d go to words. Which I then have to do. And just keep on pushing through.

What is your favorite time to write? I’m lucky now to live a life where I can write at any time at all. Sometimes I need to stay up really, really late to work something out, and I love writing at night. Sometimes I have to get to it right after morning coffee. Sometimes I have morning coffee when I haven’t gone to bed yet. Sometimes nothing happens until late afternoon, in which case, dinner will not be made.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Use your instincts like an animal when you’re composing, and when your human brain tries shutting those instincts down, tell your brain to shut up.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? I’m still doing it how I do it, people read my novels, and I’m willing to believe I won’t be extinct, at least not anytime soon.

Ellen Cooney’s A Cowardly Woman No More is out now with Coffee House Press.