Your story “Grounders” appeared with us in our DESPAYMENT issue. Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for the piece, and how you feel like you’ve grown as a writer since having it published?
I used to live in this apartment that opened up onto this incredible park, the Green Belt. The park is over nine miles long and it always made me feel connected with the park-types of nature, like cactus next to dead grass and eucalyptus trees, (Southwestern public parks are their own category of thing). I wrote my story when I first moved into my apartment as a kind of creepy love letter to my new park.
Since writing this story, I’ve become a full-time teacher, and the way I experience lots of things has changed, including when and how and when I write. Writing is hard after a working all day at a job that uses the same energies and veins of focus, attention to people, and academic skills. I used to wait for writing to hit me, but now I have to plan for it or it won’t happen.
What advice would you as a writer now, give you as a writer then?
I’d definitely tell myself to talk to my doctor about mental health and depression; I always think I’m a productive writer when I’m depressed when really I’m only a productive napper. After that, I’d tell myself to chase the times I have both drive and creativity, and I’d recommend reading more full length books.
I write whenever I can build it in. I used to live and die by the late-night writing binges, but lately I’ve been more of a Saturday morning with my coffee and laptop in my backyard.
Are there repetitive themes within your writing? Where do you draw inspiration for these themes, and how do you find yourself drawn to them?
I think biblical names and themes come up often, especially in weird applications like when I daydreamed as a kid. I write a lot about Arizona and identity struggles. Like everyone, I have a lot of deep, personal pulls towards different world views; sometimes writing stories is a processing tool for my own experiences, other times I just like getting lost in my own weird world. I genuinely love stories as both art and personal expression.
Our goal is to publish absurdly unclassifiable literature. Do you have a favourite piece of writing that goes sagainst the grain?
Okay, this is not what you asked, but I have a favorite under-appreciated writing assignment that always has bizarre beautiful results. One of my undergraduate creative writing classes had us all use a dream journal every night for a unit, and I’ve never stopped writing down most of my dreams. Closer to your question, I’m looking for anthologies of dream journals. It’s gotta be out there!
What pieces and/or projects are you currently working on?
Currently, I’m mostly writing in social activism chores like emails to lawmakers and on protest signs. I have been focusing more on poetry in the last few months, and it’s been a really beautiful part of my weekends. I look forward to it each week, and that’s a great feeling.