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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: James Robert Colgan

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Why it’s important to me is hard to answer. I’ve been writing since I was in the 4th grade , little goofy stories and sometimes skits for my classmates to perform and that lasted all through high school. In college, I majored in music, but my mentor encouraged me to do research in music history which in turn led me to write articles about music history. When I changed careers in the 1980s and became a lawyer, I found early on that it was the legal writing that I loved most and became known for, even teaching legal writing for continuing legal education classes. Then while still practicing law, I became interested in theatre and started acting in community theatres, and from there it wasn’t a very large leap to start writing plays (which I still do; in fact, I’m writing a new play right now). And in a situation that would take too long to explain here, I was writing a play in which I needed a short story for one of the characters in the play to read, so I started writing fiction and now I have about a dozen short stories and one novel complete. All of which is to go around the big Mulberry Bush to say that it’s something that has always been a part of me, something that’s always poked its head up even when I was totally absorbed in something else. It’s just what I do.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? I cannot say that I’ve ever really had writer’s block, not as I understand the term. When writing the aforementioned novel, I had trouble getting it to work, and for that I hired a wonderful editor who worked with me on it, so maybe that’s my answer. But I’m always so busy doing so many other things, writing a play, editing a short story, sketching out a new work, plus I also make jewelry and I’m still involved in acting and directing, that I think writer’s block just never has time to set in.

What is your favorite time to write? The afternoon.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Not the most profound our AG have ever heard, but when I was writing the aforementioned play for which I needed a short story for one of the characters to read aloud during the play, I wanted to use someone else’s short story but couldn’t get the rights. A very good friend of mine who works for Linda Chester encouraged me to write my own. I told her that I had no experience writing fiction, but she basically told me that with all my other non-fiction writing experience, to just trust my instincts and go. So, I did, and I surprised myself by writing my own story that matched the play. And since then, I’ve expanded that story considerably, worked it with a good editor, and now it’s being published as a stand alone novella in February. Weird how things work out.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? Probably that there are so many more markets and that they are so much more accessible because of the internet and social media.

James Colgan’s Silas in the Old Barn is out now.