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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Mary Macdonald

author Mary Macdonald smiling and an image of her book How to Have Friends

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? I have been making up stories and writing them down since I was a child. More expensive and less portable forms of artistic expression, like ballet lessons or painting, were not on offer in my family. But anyone could pick up a pencil and write, and anyone still can! That’s one reason why writing is important to me and, I reckon, to all those others out there with creative ideas jostling around inside them and needing an outlet.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? There’s only one cure for writer’s block and that is to sit down and write. I heard once that radio waves are constantly pouring through the air, but unless we turn on the radio, we won’t hear them. The same is true of writing. Words and ideas are constantly flooding through our minds, but unless we sit and write them down, they won’t form themselves into a poem or a story. That said, sometimes it helps to sneak up on the process from behind. Tell yourself you’ll just write just until you finish this cup of coffee or until the washing machine cycle finishes. Before you know it, you’re hooked!

What is your favorite time to write? Morning, without a doubt. My mind is fresher first thing in the morning.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? My old friend Richard Peck once told me that he nearly always cut the first chapter of every book he wrote. “The first chapter is just a warm-up,” he said. I’ve come to see that this is often true for my beginnings, too. The story starts much later than I think it does.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? The digital age has expanded the opportunities for writers to get published. Anyone can create a blog, publish a website, or post publicity for his or her books on-line. Many authors are even choosing to publish books themselves and finding it works out better for them.

Mary Macdonald’s How to Have Friends, illustrated by Cyndi Wojciechowski, is out now with ‎ Albert Whitman & Company.