Cara Lopez Lee
I don't believe in writer's block. Sometimes I write tripe, but I can edit tripe. I can't edit a blank page. This isn't a talent so much as a survival instinct. My early training took place in TV newsrooms, where writer’s block isn’t allowed. Reporters who miss deadlines get fired, so I developed the habit of writing whether I felt inspired or not.
Still, sometimes I struggle for the best words. When that happens, I go back to the basics: “See Dick Run. Run, Dick, Run!” If I write this way for a while, soon the logjam breaks and the words flow again. Later, I go back and rewrite the beginning: “Dick didn't run as if his life depended on it, but as if the lives of everyone he ever let down depended on it..." Or maybe, "See Dick Run" is just what the story needs. Simple, active, and enough to make readers wonder, "Who is Dick running from? What, oh what, did he do?"
Cara Lopez Lee
My most recent book is Unexpected Prisoner: Memoir of a Vietnam POW, and as you can tell from the subtitle it's not my story but a collaboration with a Vietnam War veteran. Robert Wideman spent an astonishing six years as a prisoner of war. I grew up watching the Vietnam War unfold on TV, so I've always been fascinated with that piece of history. It was an enriching educational experience to learn his story in depth and get a feeling for an aspect of the war I knew little about. More than that, it was a privilege to become friends with the resilient, intelligent, thoughtful man who lived it, someone I would never have gotten to know if it weren't for the story he wanted to share.