Alum Peg Alford Pursell (fiction, ’96) is interviewed by AWP for an “In the Spotlight” feature:
When do you find time to write?
I make the time. I’ve learned the hard way that if I’m not writing, I’m not really inhabiting myself, and if I’m not doing that, I’m not fit company! I write every day first thing, around 5:30 a.m. It took me many years to train myself to do that. I’d always been a person who wrote late at night, a habit I developed no doubt because of life circumstances, one that probably many mothers share, or have shared, of waiting until the children’s needs are met and the kids are in bed. When I pursued my MFA at the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, that’s how it went. By day (and night) I worked as a public education teacher and single mother, attending to all the duties therein: making sure that we all ate and had clean clothes to wear, paying the utility bills, overseeing homework, grading papers and preparing lessons, etc. I ran no less than six miles a day! I had to, to burn off the adrenaline. So, beginning around 9:30 to maybe as late as 11:00 p.m., I wrote. And read. And wrote. The MFA Program was rigorous, rightly so. But those late hours, that was my writing time. I’m not the same person or writer as in those days, but it took a lot for me to become accustomed to making the first true activity of the day my time for writing. I didn’t think my mind or brain could ever function that way, and was highly uncomfortable making myself write first thing. Now I’ve been doing this for about five or six years and I can’t imagine anything else. So maybe I’ll have to change that up again sometime soon! The important point is that I know I need to write, and I have suffered immeasurably when I haven’t, and I believe it’s important that I do if I’m to be the best editor and advocate I can be for other writers—which is what I truly want. So I make sure that I write.
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