Women Writing – Featured Writer: Lucy E.M. Black

 In Reviews & Press
JAN 23, 2024

Hello all,

Welcome to the 20th edition of Women Writing! Dinah Laprairie and I returned from our writing retreat, Rekindle Creativity, on Friday and I’m still feeling the positive energy, support, encouragement, and enthusiasm from our lovely participants. I loved learning about their writing journeys and their works-in-progress. The experience made me reflect on the kind of magic that happens in these kinds of settings. Muskoka was in its full glory with snow laden pines and rolling hills blanketed in white, but it wasn’t only the snow globe quality of the landscape, or the quaint little town with its unique shops, or the care and kindness of the staff at the resort. No, it’s a kind of alchemy that happens when individuals are open-hearted and generous and empathetic. That’s when the magic happens. It was truly a delightful retreat. Heartfelt thank you to all of our participants!


Group of 7 women writers laughing
Rekindle Creativity Women’s Writing Retreat in Muskoka, January 16-19, 2024


Now on to our featured writer. I’m so pleased to shine the spotlight on author Lucy E. M. Black this week. As an educator, I can relate to many of Lucy’s experiences. I hope you find inspiration in her words.

About the author…

Lucy E.M. Black is the author of The Marzipan Fruit BasketEleanor CourtownStella’s Carpet, and The Brickworks. Her award-winning short stories have been published in Britain, Ireland, USA and Canada in literary journals and magazines including Cyphers Magazine, the Hawai’i Review, The Antigonish Review, the Queen’s Quarterly and others. She is a dynamic workshop presenter, experienced interviewer and freelance writer. She lives with her partner in the small lakeside town of Port Perry, Ontario, the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island, First Nations.

Author Photo Lucy E.M. Black

“Surround yourself with generous women with serious skills and a commitment to the work. Be generous and kind with others—share openly—and keep all feedback constructive and encouraging.”

On a writing routine …

I prefer to write in the evenings through to early morning when the house and the neighbourhood is entirely still and dark. I write every night from 10pm to 1 or 2 am. I find that the distraction-free period allows me to immerse myself in the work without feeling conflicted about other responsibilities. Throughout the day, depending upon what else is happening, I may squeeze in some time for research or editing but the writing is always done in that quiet period.

On writing spaces …

I am fortunate to have a dedicated writing room. It is a lovely, private space filled with everything I need (i.e.., computer, post-its, resource books) and find inspiring (i.e.., lovely paintings, photographs, a map of a magical land where dragons and giants live, meaningful objects and touchstones).

Lucy's office space

On writing communities …

I belong to The Writer’s Union of Canada and a couple of Historical Societies. I have a large network of other writers and we exchange work on a regular basis and provide each other with encouragement and support. I also belong to a small writing group of 4 women currently. We each have different projects but have all published and are completely invested in one another’s work. We meet monthly to critique pages and offer support and encouragement. I consider myself so fortunate to have such incredible support from other writers.

On challenges …

I am now a retired educator. When I was working full-time I had a demanding career as a high school administrator. I loved the work but it was emotionally and physically draining. During those years I could only write during the holidays as I didn’t have enough of anything left over for creative pursuits. Being retired means that I can dedicate myself to my writing life and make it the priority. That has been a great gift. My first novel, for instance, was started when I was a Vice-Principal, and it took me ten years to complete. My recent novel, on the other hand, only took me four years. I write historical fiction and the research and fact-checking is time-consuming.

On the best writing advice …

The best piece of writing advice ever came to me from Donna Morrissey: focus on the heart of the story! That simple directive helps me from getting lost down rabbit holes – especially when researching and editing.

On the worst writing advice …

Many years ago, I was part of a writing group with a group of women. One of the women was someone I knew from graduate school and I was in awe of her talent and skill. She savaged my work on a regular basis and told me that I would never be any good and my priorities were all wrong. I stopped writing after a couple of years of her attacks—which I totally believed were legitimate. Years later, on a lark, I submitted one of my stories from that time to an international literary contest and it placed in the top three. It made me realize that listening to one voice was unhelpful and that she may have been motivated by something other than a desire to help me improve. Thirty years later, I have published 4 books and she has not published.

On advice from personal experiences …

Surround yourself with generous women with serious skills and a commitment to the work. Be generous and kind with others—share openly—and keep all feedback constructive and encouraging. It’s possible to be honest and helpful without being damaging. Make it a priority to establish group norms for lifting one another up and celebrating success.

Women Writing is a weekly newsletter featuring women who are doing the difficult work of writing. If you enjoyed reading the newsletter, please share it with a fellow writer. Let’s inspire each other!