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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Lara Tupper

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? I read to feel less alone. I suppose I write for the same reason. I hope that my writing will spark some sort of connection in the reader. I also write to make myself slow down and notice. I need the practice. I think we all do.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? I listen to music or take a walk. I try writing in another room or outside. I put away the draft for a time and focus on a different piece. When I return, I often feel like I’m reading something by a stranger. I need that remove, that perspective. I think writer’s block is a lack of perspective. So I change it somehow.

What is your favorite time to write? I like to roll out of bed and start while I’m still fuzzy, before the doubts creep in. But this rarely happens. I brush my teeth, drink my tea, fart around, resist the urge to check email and then fail. So I’ll say morning, to give myself some leeway. Morning is best.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? This is tough. I’ve had many brilliant teachers. But I often replay words from Jeremy Gavron, one of my supervisors in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. When I worried that my writing was derivative and meaningless he told me not to worry. He said, “I don’t think you should have any qualms,” to be exact. “I don’t think you should worry that the story risks being clichéd or sentimental or about literariness, or about what others say.” He meant, Who cares? You write what you need to write. I thanked him. I wished for a recording to play on repeat. So he recorded himself and sent the mp3. I play it often.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? It’s exciting–and essential–to see more attention (and marketing funds) spent on highlighting the voices of BIPOC writers. May this continue.

I also see more writers giving themselves permission to cross genres or mix genres. A literary fiction writer can experiment with speculative or sci-fi elements and this isn’t seen as a betrayal. To describe the world we’re in, I feel the need to work in new forms myself.

Lara Tupper’s Off Island is out now with Encircle Publications.