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Member Spotlight: Glenda Burgess

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? As a child, I felt words held a kind of magic, keys to the mysteries of things, translations between the senses and between beings. Word sentences themselves were a kind of play, like mapping our way through new discoveries. As an adult and former diplomat, I understood words to be powerful connectors, bridges between cultures, information exchanges, the building blocks of trust. This is especially true of the world today.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? I encounter writer’s block when a project feels overwhelming in some way to me, either in its scope or significance. I have learned over the course of five books to nibble away at the edges of this block by taking up some light editing on other work, finishing a review, perhaps reading poetry. Letting the mechanics of routine editing or the voices of others carry me forward until I’ve rubbed off the edges of my fear or worry, finally ready to work on the project I was avoiding.

What is your favorite time to write? Early morning. If I have the luxury of a long day of writing, I will usually break in the middle to take a long walk outdoors. Stretching my legs stretches my thoughts, and I frequently problem solve while walking.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Write it anyway. Years ago at the Maui Writers Conference, Dorothy Allison told a group of us in her fiction workshop to set our critical inner voices aside and “write it anyway.” That writers too often succumb to second-guessing our initial drafts, worried about the propriety, the market, the importance, the relevance of what we want to say. She said none of that matters at the beginning: what matters is putting something down on the page. Only then can you work with your words, see where the idea takes you.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? The exciting diversity of voices welcome among readers and publishers. It is a time like no other for reach and acceptance and it’s thrilling to me.

Glenda Burgess’s So Long As We’re Together is out now with Black Opal Books.