Sometimes Writing is Like Dreaming

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

My forest dream is still a dream...A quick post as I slowly ease back into what I hope is a more regular blogging routine.

As I dive back into my next WIP, I keep drawing from the most unexpected places.

Yesterday, I was reading an article that contained an infographic recounting a text conversation between several parties.

A few days before, I was talking to a group of writers about how the cutting boards in my father’s kitchen had caused me to reflect on how signs of our past relationships linger.

Last night, as I brushed my teeth before bed, I had an epiphany about whose point of view parts of the story should be told from.

Of course the work happens on the page, but in moments like these, writing reminds me of dreams. The way they’re random, the way they pluck images and people from the oddest depths of our memories, from thoughts we never paid much attention to. The way we can never predict where they’ll take us.

I finished brushing my teeth, so elated that I ran out to the living room and told my husband who this new narrator is. And then, cheesy as it sounds, I did a happy dance and said, “Storytelling is magical.”

 

 

photo by:

A Wish

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

I know what it looks like.

The book came out and then I disappeared for a month.And even now, I’m just popping my head in for a moment, because I know that even if I try to sum up how incredible these last few weeks have been, words will always fall short.

But I turned 30 yesterday and I’ve been thinking a lot about wishes. Such tiny longings we whisper only within ourselves. We treasure them so much we don’t even say them out loud. And only when they do finally come true might someone tell us, I wished that for you, years and years ago.

This year I found out someone gave their wishes of the past several years to me. I won’t say who or what (I kind of want to keep that my own). But it was magical, and so deeply touching, I wanted to write it down and share it and tell you that I wish the same for you.

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It’s Here. CHASING THE SUN is a book today, out in the world.

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

When I got the first, final copies of CHASING THE SUN in the mail a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t share more than a picture of me holding the book, close to my chest.

It was selfish of me, but I wanted that one moment to be mine, so I kept it secret for a few days before posting it on Facebook, Twitter…the usual places. Writing a book is intimate. It’s mornings when the rest of the house is still asleep, minutes we try to steal from each day for a quick hundred or thousand words.

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But today is different, and the fact that reading, too, is intimate is not lost on me. It’s those few minutes before bed, all to yourself with a story. A quick lunch break, an hour or two by the pool on the weekend, spent with the characters (and by extension, the writer).

Today, the book is out there, out of my hands (and arms) and in the homes of others. Thank you for welcoming it, for spending precious time with it, for turning this into an experience I can share with you.

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Chasing the Sun is now available everywhere books are sold: AmazonBarnes & Nobleyour local indie. You can also order a signed, personalized copy from my local bookshop and they’ll ship it to you for just $0.99.

I’m still in awe that this day has finally come. Thank you for being part of the journey with me.

 

The Writing Process Only Stops Working If You Do

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Miss A Writes a SongWriting is such a mystery. How the words flow, where the idea comes from, what makes a character tick…it seems everyone wants to know our big secret. So it seems appropriate that I was tagged in this blog hop by mystery author Lisa Alber, whose debut novel, Kilmoon, launched just a couple of weeks ago. Check out her post on her writing process and see mine below—you’ll see our processes are quite different, which just goes to show: there’s no right or wrong way to do this (you just have to actually do it).

What are you working on?

The first draft of my next book. I’m not quite ready to divulge all the details, but I will say this: it takes place in a Texas border town and deals with life, death, and the nearly impossible task of setting family history straight. Oh, and there are hints of magical realism. (Could I possibly be any more vague?)

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

This is such a hard question to answer about myself; I think these kinds of insights often come from readers, because we are usually too close to our work to see it objectively. One thing that sticks out is that my agent once told me she loved how my work tends to explore relationships. I hadn’t thought of that, but it makes sense: aren’t relationships what it’s all about at the end of the day? None of us exists in a bubble. Our need to interact with other humans is what drives so many of our actions. Chasing the Sun deals with a kidnapping, but it’s really the examination of a relationship under unthinkable circumstances. Stories I’ve written before, and stories I’ve written after, always go back to the connection that exists between two (or more) people.

Why do you write what you do?

It’s how I answer questions I probably couldn’t answer in just one lifetime. It’s how I try to understand things that are beyond my own experience.

How does your writing process work?

Wait…my writing process works? Kidding. Honestly, if I had the answer for that, things would be a lot easier for me. The truth is sometimes my writing process—write first thing in the morning, write a skeleton of a draft, then add texture and substance in revision, and finally edit, edit, edit—doesn’t work. Sometimes I get stuck. Sometimes I question whether I can really finish. The only thing I know about the writing process is that it stops working if you do. So I keep writing through the doubt and the difficulty because I know that eventually (I never know when) the story will come together.

I believe I’m supposed to tag more writers, so I’d like to tag you. Answer these four questions on your own blog and leave the link in the comments. What’s your process like?

photo by: mrsdkrebs

On Identity, Discrimination, and Helping Others

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

I had an eye-opening couple of days at AWP, especially in regards to what it means to be a woman and a writer of color. It’s funny, because when I was much younger and growing up in Miami, I never felt the need to self-identify as any of the many things that described me: Latina, immigrant, hispanic, Peruvian, American, Peruvian-American, person of color, woman; these things were simply understood. I grew up in a beautiful bubble where identity is fluid and the fact that we all come from somewhere is a given. Labels helped inform; they did not define.

I don’t know if that had to do with location or inexperience or both. There are days when I’m grateful I didn’t know all I know now (like how underrepresented women writers of color are in the publishing world) before I tried to write and publish my first novel.

Sometimes I wonder, would I have been discouraged? I can’t tell you if I had to work any harder than any other first-time, white male writer; I can only tell you how hard I’ve worked.

But I can tell you that there are countless other women writers working just as hard to get their stories heard, and somehow, so few of us end up breaking through. At a panel that looked beyond gender to various types of identity—like race and sexual orientation—and the many challenges identity authors face today, author Roxane Gay discussed that there shouldn’t be only one: one LGBT author, one hispanic author, one black woman author, who makes it big and ends up representing the whole. And when there is one, then it’s that person’s job to create pipelines of opportunity for others.

This really stuck with me. I feel lucky to be part of the publishing community, to have a book coming out, to have written it blissfully unaware that things like my name or my novel’s setting might have presented obstacles along the way. And I am in no way saying I’ve “made it,” but I’m grateful for the success I’ve enjoyed thus far, and I’d wish it for any other writer who wants it badly and works for it even more.

I may not know exactly how to create pipelines of opportunity just yet, but I think sharing truths is a good place to start. Below are some of mine: some I tell myself, some I wish to tell other writers who’ve ever felt marginalized, some I simply wish to tell the world.

Know what you stand for. Know what you don’t. Do not allow others to misrepresent you.

You are not one identity or one story. You are a mixture of big and small experiences, some of which must be known for you to be completely understood, none of which solely define you. Which ones you share, how you want to be understood, what you write about: these choices are yours alone.

Just because you’ve never perceived being discriminated against doesn’t mean you haven’t experienced it.

Your not being discriminated against (or your perception of it) is only your reality. This does not make it the reality of others like you.

The fact that you overcame obstacles without realizing it does not mean those obstacles don’t exist. Look at how far you’ve come, but also look back. You’ve learned some things along the way. Use it to help others who are trying to forge a similar path.

When you acknowledge someone is coming from a different place than you, don’t let that cloud your vision of all the ways you’re the same.

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