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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Lesléa Newman

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world?

Pablo Casals said, “My cello is my oldest friend, my dearest friend.” I feel the same way about my pen (yes, I still write with a pen!). I have written all my life and writing has been the number one stable companion throughout my life. Writing and reading is important to the world because it bridges gaps and lets us know one another. Reading someone else’s words is a very intimate experience.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block?

There are no tricks. I just sit down and write, even if my writing consists of complaints about not writing, not having an idea, etc. Eventually something breaks through. The best remedy I know is to read beautiful works of literature–especially poetry. That always inspires me.

What is your favorite time to write? Definitely early in the morning before the world wakes up and gets too busy. I’m afraid I fall to distraction easily.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? From my mentors: Grace Paley: “Write what you know you don’t know about what you know.” From Allen Ginsberg: “Writing is 33% inspiration, 33% perspiration, and 33% respiration.” (When I asked him about the other 1% he said “Magic!” Which isn’t really advice per se, but has always stuck with me.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? Being a children’s book writer is thrilling because a book can change a child’s life. And there is a great need today to comfort children, and a children’s book can do just that.

Lesléa Newman’s As Babies Dream, illustrated by Taia Morley, is out now with Magination Press.