monica teresa ortiz [testimonyfromamexican]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
Among the first books I read were adventure novels by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and the rags to riches stories of Charles Dickens. As I got older, I moved onto writers of the American west, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Carson McCuellers, and Cormac McCarthy.
I began writing in 3rd grade. I rewrote the Robin Hood myth. My 7th grade teacher, I would say, was the first one to read me, and understand what I was writing. Later, it would be my Creative Writing professors at UT.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
Hands down it has to be Victorian literature and Gothic literature. I love the gaudy love stories, the haunting landscapes, the elegy of repression and violence. Is that even a real genre? I'm not sure, but those were the type of novels I really love to read.
As for myself, I have become an obsessive blogger. My main blog is http://watchasthempirefalls.blogspot.com.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Sometimes there isn't any. Sometimes there is a night when I can't sleep, so I start writing. Sometimes there is a lot of scratching and scribbling in a notebook. I usually grab a cup of coffee, or a bottle of wine, sit down, turn on some music, and write. A lot of times, there is just a lot of pent up aggression coming out and that itself starts the writing.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Right now, people inspire me. But as far as reading goes, daily news articles. Poetry from Charles Simic. Those types of things. I feel full of admiration and ideas, and want them to come out. To be expressed.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Emily Dickinson, Cormac McCarthy, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. They all lead vastly different lives and their writing reflects a lot of what went on in their lifetimes. McCarthy is one of the best contemporary writers living, and I've always loved the loneliness in his novels. The darkness, the tone, the depth, the feeling of abandonment.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
A character has to be honest. If they are honest, then its believable. And I don't mean a truth telling honesty, I just mean that they need to come from an honest place, to be created from some truth. A lot of mine are culled from real people, from lives that I've happened upon.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
I'm terrible at telling stories orally. I forgot too many details and often don't have any ending.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Myself. Only myself.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Writing is the only thing that keeps me alive sometimes. It's the thing that keeps out the demons.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
Here and there. I have more disappointments than I do accomplishments.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
Sometimes. I am quite messy as a writer. I'll go through about ten drafts of something I'm working on. My mind is pretty chaotic, and my writing often reflects that.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I think my voice is schizophrenic. It has different personalities.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Music is the only requirement. If I've got some music and some tools to write with, I'm good to go.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I write on a computer, or on an Alphasmart, or in a notebook. I hop around a lot.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I've got a book of poems I'm working on, and a crime fiction novel.
monica teresa ortiz
austin, texas, USA