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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Thao Votang

author Thao Votang and an image of her book Linh Ly is Doing Just Fine

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Writing to me is a means of connection with people far beyond my reach. The ability to be with someone in this way is so powerful. I always hope my writing lessens someone else’s loneliness in the same way that this belief lessens some of my own. It’s such an important medium because of how it can transcend time and preserve history.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? Rest and walks. Lots of staring. Listening for my crow friends. When I can’t write, it’s usually because I’ve been pushing too hard, and I haven’t let what I need to say settle in my mind. Maybe I need a change of pace from a novel to a poem to a drawing. Something to get me out of my own way.

What is your favorite time to write? This isn’t really my favorite per se, but I get up at 6:30 AM so that I can join a daily Zoom writing room by 7 AM and write for an hour before work. I try not to be precious with the time or place so that doesn’t become an obstacle. Writing in the morning makes me feel as if I’ve prioritized what is the most important thing I want to do with my life. I have the privilege of being able to do this, so I try not to waste it.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? I have so many aids and books and inspirational things tucked everywhere. Right now my laptop wallpaper is an image from Octavia Butler’s journals. It reads: Tell stories filled with facts. Make people touch and taste and know. Make people FEEL! FEEL! FEEL!

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? The community. The necessary building of networks that will help us survive. There are many things I cannot do because of COVID-19 exposure, and yet, there are dedicated, caring people creating spaces that are accessible and health-conscious. I am so happy for that. With the internet, databases, and different ways to collect and process, we have the opportunity to think up new ways of writing and communicating, just like we found new ways to make connections during isolation. It’s sometimes tough because it’s new, but seeing people’s commitment to trying and adjusting is inspiring.

Thao Votang’s Linh Ly is Doing Just Fine is out July 23 with Alcove Press.