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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Kathryn Wilder

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Writing has helped me move through the years–even this last one!–and through trauma and turmoil. It is a loyal companion–as with my dogs, wherever I am, it’s there. With pen and paper within reach, I am okay. Of course writing is more than that, as well: a way to communicate outwardly with people I don’t know, a way to reach out, perhaps to influence or at least offer a different perspective, or support the perspectives of others. Clearly in times of strife great writers have helped the world survive and change for the better, and now those voices are helping people move through pandemic and fear and war and climate change. I have a lot to be grateful for!

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? For me the best thing to do when I feel stuck is to change something. Today I was working on a complex puzzle with my eight- and six-year-old grandchildren, who ended up feeling frustrated as the progress was slow and, well, frustrating. I said, when you feel frustrated (with whatever activity that’s not going well), stop and do something different. And I realize reading your question that that is what I do: stop. Go outside. Ride my mare. Check the cows’ water. Drive. Or, if outside isn’t available when I hit a wall, I switch to a different project–an essay, a novel-in-progress, it doesn’t matter–just do something different. When I said that to my grandkids, they headed outside to their bikes and raced away, nearly howling with pleasure.

What is your favorite time to write? Early morning when I wake up to whenever I have to stop. Then the evening after all chores are done, writing until my eyes don’t cooperate anymore.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Perhaps it’s Natalie Goldberg’s “Go for the jugular.” If it hurts, go deeper.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? I think “today’s age” is a challenging time to be a writer. On the one hand, we’re lucky because we have this great tool to use on all the bad days; on the other hand, the sense of isolation, which is coveted at times, was amplified, for me anyway, until it was just too damned loud. Made me realize that being alone is not always best for me. Now that the book is out and Zoom events are lining up in which my book and I are the subjects, I realize how much I miss the intimacy of in-person readings. Facial expressions, body posture, heads nodding in agreement (or in sleep)–all of that makes in-person events so rich. On yet another hand, events by computer have allowed me access to many writers I would not have been able to see or hear, and have made it possible for me to “go” to a reading with my sister in Oregon and my friend in Alabama, with me in the middle in Colorado, all at the same time! That’s pretty magical and I am ever-grateful that smart people figured out so quickly how to create and implement all that. With a book just out, I am relying heavily on that world to make the book and me accessible–thank you brilliant minds! And also, in regard to “today’s age,” there is absolutely no shortage of material. I just wish people didn’t have to suffer so much for that to be true.

Kathryn Wilder’s Desert Chrome: Water, a Woman, and Wild Horses in the West is out now with Torrey House Press.