BY: YVETTE LUEVANO
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.
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.
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.