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Posts tagged Yvette Luevano
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it Writers Asking Writers Questions and turned it into a five-week series involving established authors as well as new, unpublished writers.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 | Yvette Luevano & gsoell
 

BY YVETTE LUEVANO

 

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.


How long have you been writing and when did you really start calling yourself a writer?

A: I've always written but inconsistently (which is basically everything in my life). It's really based on what I feel like I "need" to write. Do I need to write a poem? Do I need to write an essay for school? Do I need to write a journal entry about this feeling or event? I'm always writing but sometimes it's less artistic and more practical. And, to be honest, it seems so far-fetched to call myself a writer that I don't. Maybe when I have a published book in my hand, I'll actually accept the title.

 

How did you get into poetry?

A: I was really inspired after my vacation last year in the psych ward and needed to write something and to write it well. I had been laboring under the illusion that I couldn't write poetry for years but my prose never got to a level I felt confident in. I decided to try poetry again and it fucking clicked.

 

Your work touches on themes of identity, language, mental health, sexuality. Would you say that your personal life informs your work? To what extent does it influence your writing?

A: My personal life is my work and the foundation of my writing. Small Nights Gospel is entirely autobiographical. I'm hoping to evolve from that style in the near future.

 

What does the creative process look like for you? Do you have a set routine or mood that you need to get into in order to write?

A: My creative process is a mess because I'm a mess. I need to be able to process my emotions or thoughts to be able to write and, as someone with severe depression, that can be difficult. My best strategy is to seize the moments where I have the balance and energy to harness my words. I always have a small notebook because I like the tactile feeling of writing and that fuels the creative process as well.

 

Tell me about your favorite place to read and write.

A: Is it super basic to say that I like to write in Starbucks? I have a really specific order that I get almost everyday (venti iced coffee with vanilla and soy) and when I go in the mornings, it feels like my life is just together. I also like to read and write in bed. I have this really expensive and luxurious bed because I literally do everything important in it. I earned my Master's degree in that bed and wrote most of my book in that bed.

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Who do you love to read? Which poets excite you the most?

A: I have to confess, I don't read poetry enough to have a favorite author (I'm so ashamed omg). However, Neil Gaiman is my favorite author because his writing is so beautiful and poetry-like. If I could live in his writing, I would. The best I can do is aspire to his level.

 

What do you love to do outside of writing?

A: I love playing with my dogs. I adopted two Chihuahuas and I'm obsessed with them and we're best friends. On a more pretentious note, I also love to read and visit breweries.

 

What images or ideas do you keep coming back to in your work?

A: I play with images of birds and the ocean a few times in my current book. I feel like the auras and energy around these images are worth unpacking, even in minor ways.

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How do you feel you have grown as a writer?

A: I found my niche. I really sucked ass at prose. It actually wasn't that bad but most of my writing was static and expressionless. I found a genre in which my brevity and creativity could flow more naturally. I also think being honest in my writing, being unembarrassed by perceived vulgarity, and understanding who I am (good and bad) helped my writing grow.

 

When you write, do you have a particular audience in mind? Who do you write for?

A: I write for people who don't know what the fuck they're doing. Because I'm that person. I have no idea where I'm going and I have no idea how the fuck I'm getting there but I'm getting there and it's going to be a triumph when I arrive.

 

The idea that an artist must suffer for their work is one of our most damaging cultural myths. Self-care is important, especially in these difficult times. What is your favorite way to be kind to yourself?

A: My self-care is more practical because my mental health is so wacky and extremely inconsistent. It often takes the form of paying bills, making appointments, packing lunch for work, etc. It can also just be a low-stakes activity like reading a book or watching something on Netflix.

 

 

Small Nights Gospel will be released January 18.