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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Jethro K. Lieberman

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? My answer to the first part of the question is likely the same way as that of any other author: Because I think I have something to say and doing so readably is a compulsion as strong as that of any other artisan for his craft. For the world: The question ought not need to be asked: Civilization and human existence as we’ve known it for millennia would collapse in its absence. We are the verbal species; the possibility of community beyond the dinner table would founder without the written word.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? 1. Take a shower. 2. Take a walk. 3. Retype the last 3 pages of the work you’re blocked on. 4. Write a memo to yourself explaining the point on which you’re blocked and what you think is standing in your way. Edit the memo. 5. Talk to someone about what you’re trying to write. Let that person question you. 6. Write something else. My just published book, a novel, began as an attempt to unblock a non-fiction project. Now I can return to the earlier project.

What is your favorite time to write? Any time the words are tumbling out of my head. It does help if the people around me know to leave me alone when that happens. If the words aren’t tumbling out, then any time at all when there’s no other pressing deadline and nothing else that will need doing during the next couple of hours.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Write early; edit late. That, I think, is the only indispensable advice. I taught a writing course for law students for more than 30 years, and that was the central rule. Write when the thought appears, when the words form, when you first begin thinking through whatever it is you intend. When written let it alone for as long as you can and go back to it with a gimlet eye and rework it for as long and as often as it takes.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? Being alive with my wits intact.

Jethro K. Lieberman’s Everything Is Jake is out now with Three Rooms Press.