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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Mary Helen Stefaniak

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? I’m not sure about this, but I think that it’s only when I am writing that I am my true self. Writing is the only medium that allows both the writer and the reader to enter another person’s consciousness–to leap into another person’s life, Zadie Smith has said–and experience it firsthand. Because writing exercises the imagination in this way, it expands our capacity for compassion, “that ache of imagination,” as Czeslaw Milosz defines it.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? I follow poet William Stafford’s advice: Lower your standards.

What is your favorite time to write? I prefer writing in the morning, but I’ll do it whenever the opportunity presents itself.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Set up a writing schedule and stick to it. When it’s time to write, give yourself no other choice. Just write.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? There are so many venues, so many ways to reach an audience. Of course, this is both exciting and daunting.

Mary Helen Stefaniak’s The World of Pondside is out April 19 with Blackstone Publishing.