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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Lisbeth White

author Lisbeth White smiling and an image of her book American Sycamore

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? I’ve always found writing to be a practice of intimacy. The intimacy is in the attention we pay to ourselves and the world around us as we write. It’s in our curiosity, our willingness to bring presence to the undercurrents and details of whatever has caught our attention, and to find a way to honor an experience. I think this level of presence is such a gift. Writing with curiosity and desire to understand the fullness of an experience can show us so much about ourselves and what is around us. It can teach us, not just empathy, but ways to connect. And with that, we remember how to be part of the world around us.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? Spacing out! I’ve found that when I can’t get going or past a certain part of a poem or an essay, just giving up the focus and giving my brain a break works wonders. Making a cup of tea and gazing out a window for 10-20 minutes, letting myself take in the sights and sounds outside and letting my mind wander…sooner or later, this brings me back to the page. Maybe to scribble some random image or a little stream of consciousness reverie. Most likely I won’t write about what I think I’m supposed to be writing about but the point is to be writing, isn’t it?

What is your favorite time to write? I love writing in the morning. I am a morning person only to the page. Please don’t talk to me before 10am, but give me my journal and I can soak in all the untainted images of my dreams. I find there’s a looseness to my morning brain that allows form intuitive connections to lead the way. Afternoons are for editing and all that linear stuff that happens once one looks at an email.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Annie Lamott writes in her excellent writing support book, Bird By Bird, about the small assignment. This has been a game-changer for me in terms of having a consistent writing practice! As a writer who loves (and is probably slightly addicted to) writing in a rush of inspiration, it has definitely taken me time to learn that good writing is a marathon and not always sprint. So coming to the work with the goal of getting through one paragraph, one scene, one description, helps me feel accomplished without having to write an entire book.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? I love the way experimental and hybrid writings are coming more and more into the mainstream scene! All the ways writers are playing with form and format– it wildly opens the whole literary world to multiplicity and diverse ways of knowing. Our entire human culture benefits from this richness. I’m excited to be a part of that movement!

Lisbeth White’s American Sycamore is out now with Perugia Press.