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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Valerie Bolling

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world?
Writing is at the core of who I am. It is like breathing. During the pandemic, writing was a balm to me. I’ve written five picture books since March, revised numerous manuscripts, and eagerly pursued promoting my picture book, Let’s Dance!, that was released March 3. I even signed with my agent in June!

Writing is important for the world because we all need to tell our stories so that children have a multitude of diverse literature–on a variety of topics and about people from all cultures–to read. Children need to feel at home in a book, and that means seeing themselves and knowing they matter. Children also need to understand and appreciate those who are different from themselves.

Writing is a way for all of us to self-reflect, make sense of our world, and share our thoughts and experiences with others. Even if one can’t physically write, thoughts can be shared via voice dictation or an assistive device.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block?
I think the best remedy for writer’s block is to be open to ideas at all times. When something occurs to me, I write it down. I now take walks with my phone because if a thought pops into my head, I write or dictate it into the notepad.

I have two writing folders of my work–one contains completed drafts and all of their revisions; the other is filled with ideas for stories and starts to stories or very rough drafts of stories. Thus, if I were to experience writer’s block, I’d have places to go to unblock myself.

The best way to cure writer’s block is to write…and read. The more you do both of those, the more ideas will enter your mind. Also, interact with people and enjoy life–you’ll gain ideas in conversations and while engaging in activities.

What is your favorite time to write?
Any time is a good time for me to write. Whenever I have the inspiration and/or time, I write. During the school year, it’s often late at night, and I look forward to reserving a block of time on Sundays to write.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers?
Don’t let rejection stop you. If you are passionate about writing, keep doing it. You shouldn’t write just to get published. You should write because it feeds your soul, as it does mine.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age?
The possibilities that exist for writers now are exciting to me. As a Black author, I’m grateful for #BVM — I’m hoping that more books will be published by people who look like me and that more Black people will enter careers in the publishing industry as well.

The fact that we’re all doing things virtually opens up so many possibilities. Authors can travel around the country, the world, and connect with readers who they previously wouldn’t have. I’ve shared Let’s Dance! all over, and I’ve had people attend my events from Scotland, India, and the Bahamas!

The Internet allows me to connect with writers. The writing community on Twitter and in private Facebook groups is amazing! I’ve learned so much from others.

Valerie Bolling’s Let’s Dance, illustrated by Maine Diaz, is out now with Boyds Mills Press.