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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Michael de Guzman

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? I’ve spent the better part of the past sixty years working alone in room. Writing documentaries,  television movies and novels for young readers. Among other things, it’s been my living and my passion. Also, I wasn’t any good at anything else. Story telling is at the root of culture. All culture. It’s how we  discover ourselves and others. It’s how we learn about and experience the world. Story telling is more important now than it has ever been.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? Some days writing is like digging a ditch with a spoon. I write every day, even if I know what I’m writing stinks and that I’ll throw it away. Running the vacuum helps. Doing the laundry. Writing something other than what I’m working on helps. I write a lot of letters. On one of my typewriters. Putting down the novel and writing an essay or poem often helps. These are diversions that help keep me centered. I write them for myself.

What is your favorite time to write? I write for a few hours in the morning, then again after lunch, then in the early evening. No more than five hours or so a day. I used to have a strict schedule. Mostly from early morning until lunch. I write seven days a week.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? My father told me that if I read every day and wrote every day, I might, just might, amount to something.

And I will quote Norman Maclean: “Every little thing counts. You take the way it comes to you first, with adjectives and adverbs, and (then) cut out all the crap. You use an adjective, it better be a sixty-four dollar adjective. Turn off the faucet and let them come out a drop at a time.”

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? I write stories about kids. About the challenges they face. About the difficulties of being a kid   in a screwed up world. In an age of all things tech this is a challenge that lights my fire. In what I call the age of  lies, attempting truth is essential. The older I become, the more this matters to me. It’s part of what gets me cranked up every morning.  

Michael de Guzman’s Miles Freely’s Unexpected Year is out now.