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Posts tagged Danielle Elaine
Writers Asking Writers Questions | Danielle Elaine & Yvette Luevano
 

BY DANIELLE ELAINE

 

Last year, we created of series of in-house interviews called Authors Interviewing Authors, where our roster traded conversations in an attempt to get to know one another as well as provide some intimate insights into the life of a fellow writer. This year, we expanded on our series, aptly renaming it Writers Asking Writers Questions and turned it into a five-week series involving established authors as well as new, unpublished writers.


The previous interviews from our WAWQ series are linked below.


How old were you when you first started writing?

A: I've been writing for most of my life. As soon as I learned to read, I started writing and drawing and stapling together books I'd made out of construction paper, imitating the picture books my mom got me from the library. I liked writing short stories for assignments throughout grade school and in high school, I started taking creative writing classes, learning about poetry. In college, I knew I wanted to pursue writing and I sort of fell into a few poetry courses and just fell in love with it. I've been chasing poems ever since.

 

What was the pivotal moment or time in your life when you decided to take yourself serious as a writer?

A: I guess when I was 21, 22 and started submitting my poems for publication. After going through a few workshops at UC Riverside and getting a poem published for the first time in The Packinghouse Review, the whole ‘being a writer’ thing felt a little more real. Writing wasn't just a personal, private thing anymore. I knew if it was going to mean anything, it had to be accessible to others, an audience outside of myself.

 
 

What has been the hardest thing about writing for you?

A: Revision is the hardest. Actually working up the nerve to show my work, in its various stages of completion, to other people is very, very hard for me. Terrifying and embarrassing, but also humbling and necessary.

 

Where do you find yourself when you are most inspired to write (a place, a mood, etc.)?

A: I need a lot of time alone and I often have trouble sleeping, so I end up doing most of my writing at night when the house is quiet. I'm not necessarily more inspired at night, I just have more time for quiet contemplation when it’s well past midnight and I'm not caught up in whatever needs to be done during the day. There's no work, no errands, no commute, everyone is asleep, the phone doesn't ring. I just sit with a cup of tea and listen to some music and I read and I write. In the morning, I try to figure out if it's any good.

 

Who are some other writers, authors, poets you are inspired by or admire?

A: I love Lorca. I could never hope to write anything like Federico Garcia, but he's very near and dear to my heart. I read Hart Crane, Larry Levis and Adrienne Rich as examples of absolute mastery. I read Frank O'Hara and Kenneth Koch for pleasure, I love their styles but I've kind of accepted I can never write like them. I wish I could be funny. I was really into Sharon Olds in high school, she probably shaped a lot of my early attempts at poetry. Michelle Lin and Kazumi Chin both came out with stunning debut collections last year. We studied at UC Riverside together years ago. I keep revisiting their books and I feel honored to know such radical, visionary poets.

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Is there any particular work that made a lasting impression on you (written by yourself or others)?

A: Power Politics by Margaret Atwood. Saadi Yousef's "America, America." Gary Young's prose poems.

 

How does who you are as a writer now compare to whom you’d like to be as a writer?

A: I think - I hope, at least - I've gotten better as a writer. I'm not so hung up on imitating or recreating an existing poem I like. The poem should determine the form, not the other way around. A poem doesn't have to be a big grand declaration. Poems can be small and intimate, but still impactful. Some poems just take time, perspective. I still have a long way to go. I never know where I'm going when I start writing a poem. I'm always unsure of how to end them.



 

If you have children or plan to, what is the impression or legacy you’d like your work to leave on them?

A: I can't say for sure whether I want to have kids or not, so I really don't know what I'd want my legacy to be for them. I just want to leave an impression of kindness.

 

What is the impression or legacy you’d like your work to leave on the world?

A: If I am to be remembered by my work at all, I hope my voice resonates with people completely unlike me. While I may draw from my own experiences in my writing, I don't want my work to be read as an autobiography. I'm aiming to transcribe both the ordinary and the universal.

 

Do you feel a sense of responsibility in your work as a female writer, or female creative, in general?

A: The personal is political. I can only strive to write from my own perspective. I can't pretend that growing up and moving through this world as a woman hasn't impacted my life, for better or worse. It would be irresponsible of me to write or create anything that wasn't true to my own lived experience. 

 

What fears have you outgrown on your journey as a writer? What are some current fears you look forward to releasing?

A: I'm not sure if I've actually outgrown any fears as a writer. The perennial ones are all still there: fear of repeating myself, fear of not having anything meaningful to say, fear of being derivative, fear of being misread, fear of stagnating, fear that my writing is actually garbage. A new one has popped up over the years: the fear that I may leave my best work unfinished.

Writers Asking Writers Questions | Garvey Hemisphere & Danielle Elaine
 

BY GARVEY HEMISPHERE

 

Last year, we created of series of in-house interviews called Authors Interviewing Authors, where our roster traded conversations in an attempt to get to know one another as well as provide some intimate insights into the life of a writer. This year, we expanded on our series, aptly renaming it Writers Asking Writers Questions and turned it into a six-week series involving established authors as well as new, unpublished writers.


The previous interviews from our WAWQ series are linked below.


What is the first book that made you cry?

A: I believe the first book that made me cry was Kite Runner. I remember most vividly how that book took me through so many emotions. I loved it. I still do and recommend it. It was a lot for me. Very eye opening. I find pain so poetic.

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What is your writing kryptonite?

A: My writing kryptonite would definitely be deadlines. Even deadlines I give myself, I can never seem to keep. I’ve learned a lot about myself lately, and one thing that keeps coming up is fear. I’ve been running from myself, and doing “the work” for so long out of fear. Now, my challenge is pushing past the fear, running straight to the things I’ve been running from and commit to myself and that work.

 

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

A: Sadly, I’m not friends with any other authors. I have friends who are creatives in other ways, we keep each other motivated by being honest with one another about our work, and ideas. We are honest about our kryptonites. Being vulnerable is truly an inspiring gift. People always ask me for advice when they want to start writing, and I always say just write. Get the words out and worry about perfect later. I live by this and Im always asking my friends to double check and edit things for me. Some writers I am inspired by push me to stretch my creativity, take my writing form, depth and vulnerability in my writing to another level. I just want to make a last impact on at least one person. I want at least one person to read my work and feel something.

 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

A: If I could tell my younger writing self anything, it would be start now. I would tell myself don’t wait, and there is nothing to fear, however I don’t think my story would be as good if I hadn’t made some of the mistakes I made to get where I am today.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

A: Publishing my first two books independently did not change my writing process, only my desire to solely do it alone. Independent marketing is hard. That saying about family and friends joining the bandwagon last is very true.

 

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

A: LOL!!! Far too many!

 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

A: Yes, my novel details many experiences people would never believe. I am excited to see what people will decipher as true and fiction.

 

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

A: I would give up anything to become a better writer. I would give up fear and definitely procrastination. I’m not sure what the timeline for most writers is like, but I always feel like I’m off.

 

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

A: The most difficult part of my artistic process would be consistency and balance. Once I start writing, I take off and I’m on a roll. That’s a place I’d like to live in daily, even when I am not actively creating. Life has been such a rollercoaster, trying to pursue my passion, be a good mom, and find stability as an adult, I tend to get bogged down by it all which makes it difficult to get artsy at the end of the day.

 

Does your family support your career as a writer?

A: Yes and no. It’s the typical scenario: when I’m doing good they are all for it - but when I’m not, I need to “grow up”, “be realistic” etc.

 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

A: Yes, I believe in writer’s block, I had it for a very long time. I think it is a subconscious unwillingness to produce for whatever reason that may vary person to person. There have been many times I wanted so badly to write, but for one reason or another I just couldn’t find the words.

 

Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?

A: My only advice is just get the words out. Don’t worry about writing rules and being perfect. That will come later. If you just get your words out, as you think and feel them, the process becomes less daunting. Also, there’s never a need to compare yourself. You would not have been given the gift or inspired creatively if you were not meant to write. You’d have the desire to do something else if there wasn't room at the writers table for you too. Don't compare yourself to others, and don't critique yourself until it’s time to edit.

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When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A: There was never an “aha!” moment - it was just something I always felt and knew about myself. I have always written, because I felt stifled communicating my emotions any other way. I had always wanted to be a published author, but never took my writing careers serious until I found out I was pregnant and decided to be a mom. I knew I couldn’t tell my daughter she could be and do anything, and have her believe me without having anything to show for my own dreams manifesting.

 

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

A: I have two projects in the works: one major and one a little less major (but not minor, lol). The latter is Fire Affirmations for Dope Women in Transition, a compilation of affirmations I have written over time, to preach to myself in hard times to push through and inspire myself. It’s for women and moms of all kinds creating space for us to be light with ourselves, to be vulnerable, to push through and execute our vision in spite of things seemingly crumbling around us. The major MAJOR project I’ve been working on for years now is A Minister’s Child, which may end up being titled Spratt Street. It is a novel based on my life and the wild things I’ve experienced. There will be tons of truth and many exaggerations as well. A Minister’s Child is an obvious title, because that is what I am. Spratt Street is part of the street address of the shelter I stayed in recently. I was there almost a year, way longer than I intended - but as you can imagine, there were some characters in there!

 

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?

A: The most surprising thing is how much I’ve been through, how much I’ve endured. My resilience and strength. When you’re going through tough time after tough time after tough time, you kind of keep your head down until you clear each rough patch. To look back at it all on a macro level while writing make it profound to see that I am still intact, peaceful, and happy after it all.