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Member Spotlight: Norah Woodsey

author Norah Woodsey and her book The States

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? I can’t draw, paint, make music or movies, but I imagine these things when I have quiet time in my mind. To share these with the world, I write what I see or feel or hear in my imagination. Finding the time is a challenging, but I have written entire scenes with my phone’s notes app from waiting rooms or playground benches. In the same way, my stories can reach readers nearly anywhere in the world, even if they don’t have the time to browse cute bookshops or linger in libraries. When I share my stories in a way that is accessible to the greatest number of people, I am inviting them into the life I have lived and the world as I know it. Each moment, thought, or feeling an author shares expands what we see and know. It is a gift to all of humanity, one we should not squander, that we can express ourselves to others through words on a page.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? When I feel particularly stuck on a scene or story, I step away and go for a walk outside while listening to music. Usually that frees me from whatever is holding me back. Otherwise, time and patience is what I need. And maybe more rigorous exercise.

What is your favorite time to write? I prefer to write between midnight and 2 AM. Unfortunately, I have three young children and if I did that regularly, I would be a zombie. Now I write during the school day.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? My creative writing teacher in high school suggested I could be a novelist. At the time, I was sleeping on friends’ couches, struggling to earn enough money to pay for a cell phone. I couldn’t imagine having the lifestyle where I could write for a living. My teacher told me, “Talent will keep. You need to survive right now. Everything you experience will make your writing better.” I kept writing as a hobby for many years, drafting stories for myself and friends, until my financial circumstances changed. And now, I am able to comment on a wide range of experiences that many of my writer friends have not encountered, like food stamp restrictions and pawn shop transactions. I carry the anger of those years and put bits of it into what I write to sympathize with readers who relate, and to inform readers in better circumstances.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? My local writing community is very limited, but with the internet I am able to build a community over the internet. I have writer friends from Ireland to Alaska, sharing their triumphs and asking for feedback on their work and discussing the industry. When a distributor changes their terms of service in an alarming way, for example, I can be informed immediately by fellow writers who have expertise and time I do not have. We can organize ourselves, and advocate for each other from across the country and the world. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us all.

Norah Woodsey’s The States is out tomorrow.