In this week’s Behind The Pen I interviewed well-known local writer and past editor of Winston-Salem Monthly Magazine Emily-Sarah Lineback. See bottom of blog for her full bio!
What do you love about writing?
Everything. I adore weaving words and sentences into what becomes more than the sum of their parts (when things work well). I enjoy editing; it’s the literary version of “decluttering.” And sometimes, the highest aspect of writing is to be an archivist whose most important job isn’t to create but to document another’s experience.
How did you get into the writing world?
I wrote my first “book” in fifth grade and won my first writing award—a regional contest about energy conservation—when I was 11 years old. I saw how empowering it was to create something out of nothing as well as how words can influence and bring about change. I was hooked.
What top two challenges do you find in writing?
Personally, having large enough chunks of time to do my own writing and then using not having enough time as an excuse; I’m great at commitments to clients but not as devoted to myself. The time/commitment trap is also a big delay for other authors and writers I work with and have known through the years.
Where do you find inspiration for your article/book ideas?
For articles, inspiration is everywhere when we look. Whether for articles or my own book ideas, inspiration usually comes as a desire to learn more or share something. I’m drawn to the investigative nature of what’s needed to write; research energizes me. I often hear how teachers teach what they need to learn, and in that same vein I especially love to write what I want to know more about, whether it’s a place or a person.
What is 1. The most challenging thing you’ve written and why and 2. The favorite thing you’ve written and why?
The most challenging thing I’ve written has also been my favorite and most rewarding to date, which is Preserving the Past: Salem Moravians’ Receipts & Rituals. It was the first-ever published historical culinary compilation from 18th and 19th family collections housed in the Moravian Archives in Winston-Salem. Many of the documents were in “high” German, and my two years of college German were little help! Archivist Dr. Daniel Crews translated, and a host of people including family members played key roles in helping me transform fragile documents and diaries into a finished piece that won the North Carolina Willie Parker Peace History Book Award. I love the people and places this project brought me into contact with as well as how it gave me license to spend time gathering memories from my dad and taste-testing recipes with my mom. My husband designed the cover, the skeleton of which originated from a book published in 1854, which had belonged to my great-great grandfather, who was also a Moravian.
Do you have any tips to writers on conducting interviews and/or drafting interview questions?
Research your subject matter and the people you’re interviewing because otherwise, you won’t know the best questions to ask. It’s fine to have a preconceived notion of where the interview or project will go as long as you allow it to take you in wildly different directions, which is another reason why background research is crucial to keep up with detours.
If you could give an upcoming writer, one piece of advice what would it be?
Write, right now. It isn’t always easy, but it’s that simple.
Where can people go to see more of your work?
While I do still write for various forums, the bulk of my work doesn’t bear my name. My company’s website is a classic example of “the cobbler’s children have no shoes.” It’s sorely outdated, but it’s functional: www.whitlineink.com