Yesterday, I had the pleasure of talking to my friends and more so, comrades, (I feel comfortable calling them this, not thinking of them as amazing writer acquaintances): Adam Gottlieb and Eric Allen Yankee. They are the writers and artists I want to be, so I really appreciated their wisdom and philosophy on writing. Their feedback on my writing, of course, put me over the moon. In short, we had a great discussion about our craft and what goes into it.
Adam, for example, had really insightful things to say about my use of folklore and curanderismo in my short story collection Down South where the Water is Warm (he hasn't read "La Bruja del Barrio Loco", yet!). We also discussed the concept of cliches in poetry, and he said something I had never heard before but was something that was taught to him, "You have to rescue cliches." We had a conversation about the roles of cliches in poetry, which I teach my creative students to add a twist to or flip. To do something new with the cliche that still focuses on the beauty of what a cliche offers like love or eternity but that adds something refreshing. I love the idea of rescuing a cliche.
We, also, had a discussion about the mixture of indigenous and Catholic beliefs and my personal stories of when that shit actually worked. I think it's a mind-belief thing when those limpias work or as my friend Lau says, "I am living magical realism." Besides, most of those rituals are mixed with prayer, and prayer is powerful. Wrap your head around that.
I was floored to find out that Eric is reading my novel draft! He said, "It's like the Hunger Games," which it is and isn't--Yes, that was a compliment. But, I started working on this novel when I was an undergraduate, and it really borrows more from 1984, Kurt Vonnegut, and every dystopian piece of literature I had read up to that point. Stephen King's Talisman also had a huge impact on that piece as well as other science fiction writers. In truth, there is nothing new about the novel, just how you arrange old elements to tell a new story. In many ways, it's also a boy meets girl story, which can be a cliche in and of itself. Regardless, I am pleased with how this re-write is shaping up.
Eric is also writing a novel, which I hope to read, if he wants an ideal reader. He too is stretching his limits, going beyond smut and all, and I am sure it will turn out beautifully because he's got the itch to write a long piece.
Well, I have to get back to it, that siren call that wakes me up at 2, 3, or 4a.m. I made a different writing choice in where I split the last Ashley chapter, where I was originally going to solve the mystery, but decided not to, yet. So, I'm off to let that plot line develop as it must. I am at a point in the writing, where despite my planning, the characters are taking on a life of their own. Which needs to happen sometimes and can lead to more beautiful places.
Here's to going on new writing journeys and sharing writing ideas with writing masters. Yes, writing masters. #Resist.
Dr. Jesú Estrada,