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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Selene Castrovilla

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Writing keeps me sane, grounded, and happy. When I write, I’m reminded that I matter. I knew I was a writer from when I first held a pencil-instinctively, I felt it was my tool, even though I didn’t know how to use it yet. That was such a gift, and it calmed me. It saved me, really. To have this purpose. You know how people say they’re energized by exercise? Writing does this for me. I feel alive and purposeful. It’s a thrill to find “le mot juste,” as Flaubert coined it. Writing is an important medium for the world because it allows introspection. We pause when we write. It’s a meditation in a spiraling world. Inside those moments we write, we are all Buddha.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? If I hit a snag, I go around it. I work on a different part of the piece, or I revise what I’ve already written. It’s essential to stay positive, to trust that the words will come. And they do.

What is your favorite time to write? I make sure I write first thing in the morning to get my head in gear and set the tone for the day. But my favorite time is late afternoon into sunset–then I can celebrate with a toast to the universe and watch the daylight’s magnificent adieu.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Anne Lamott taught me the two most important things. Number one: Embrace the shitty first draft. Nothing comes out perfect–it’s all in the revision. That was such a relief to know! Number two: You only need to write enough to fit inside a one-inch picture frame each day. How freeing is that? Takes all the pressure off. Another great thing I heard an author say: “Writers write.” Seems like a given, but I often remind myself of this. There are lots of distractions out there. If you’re a writer, ignore everything else and make that time to write. Jane Yolen says, “Butt in chair.”

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? I’m excited to have a voice in an age where so many are silenced. It’s also great to reach people through the internet who wouldn’t know me or my work otherwise. And I love having my virtual writing community, to keep me going. It’s essential to be immersed in a vortex of creativity.

Selene Castrovilla’s Seeking Freedom: The Untold Story of Fortress Monroe and the Ending of Slavery in America, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, is out now with Calkins Creek.