Not often do I give an interview –or rather anyone requests one–regarding my writing process, etc.
But Jenny Forrester of Unchaste Readers asked for one so I gave one. Here’s the full-text:
Interviews of Unchaste Women
I’m Margaret E1ysia Garcia and I write…stuff. I’m also a college professor, a mother of two, radio DJ, and have recently taken up singing again.
I try and follow a regular writing routine but it almost never works out. Wednesday and the weekends are suppose to be my writing times in my office but it’s rarely ever that linear.
Writers need to not be afraid to be alone with their head and their hearts. It’s a scary place but that’s where real writing comes from. We need to not be afraid of making ourselves look bad when we’ve been bad. We also need to revise. Try harder. Walk away and comeback.
The things I tend to write come in waves of images and sound to me and I have to get them down so they leave me alone.
I don’t have writer’s block ever. I have life block of being a parent, broke parent, broke parent who is also a teacher who grades too many papers by students who don’t give a shit. Sometimes life takes over writing time. That’s when I get resentful. When I do feel blocked, so to speak, I tend to cook elaborate meals or do elaborate art projects with my kids to get me out of it. My family can tell what’s up with me by whether they’re over fed or eating top ramen.
I don’t know that I ever have advice for other writers except shut up and quit talking about writing and just sit down and write.
I don’t know if there is one solitary message in my writing. I feel often that I lived kind of a strange life –birth to present. Though I’m part of many ‘subcultures’ I never feel really represented by any of them: gay family, Mexican family, Anglo family, army brat, agnostic, urbanite living in rural countryside, poor kids with education, etc. But I’ve always met people that I can relate to. I guess I kind of want to say “We are here! We are here!” And I’ve come to acknowledge that the heart and desire do funny things to you. Best not to deny any of it. Like that Gnostic quote: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you. (Gospel of St. Thomas).”
I learn a good deal from all my writing and art projects and music projects. Sometimes I sense connections between all of them even if I can’t quite articulate it that way.
I have too many projects at once—kind of one in each genre. My memoir about growing up in a gay military family is near the end of edits (yay). When done, I want to go back to my novel about a girl coming of age in West Germany in the 80s with Marlene Dietrich as a guardian angel. At the same time? I’m working on a book of poetry where food and beverages tie into the ecstasy of spirituality and sex (Recipes for Ascension). Also along the line of food, I’ve always wanted to do a cookbook about leftovers and stories about various cultures and their leftovers. That’s in note and recipe stage. Probably the next thing I finish will be Before You Barefoot –a play I’ve written that’s also in editing stage about aLibertinish sort of man with a foot fetish for deformed feet who then marries someone with perfect toes and banishes his lovers. It has both Diana Ross & the Supremes covers AND a Greek Chorus AND a treatise in it as to why the Disney’s Little Mermaid sucks. Oh and I’m doing a zine called SadGirl with my nine year old. Oh and working up a collection of erotica.
When I think of influences of my writing, I look no further than my bookcase in my office which houses the books I never sell and always get up from my desk and consult—as if they are a team to help me through. In no particular order that bookcase houses a complete collection of William Faulkner, Carson McCullers, Zora Neal Hurston, Flannery O’Connor, Kate Bravermen, Jeanette Winterson, James Ellroy, Julio Cortozar, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s next to a poetry bookcase that houses Charles Baudelaire, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Rexroth’s 100 Japanese Poems (possibly my favorite book), Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, Hernandez Brothers’ Love and Rockets. But the funny thing with me is for all my heavy hitters (and Jesus, look at all those men on that list?) my true loves are really art, photo, and music. I’m just as influenced by songwriters and staring at art and photo as I am by reading novels of fiction. Architecture too. As hokey as it sounds? I’m also influenced by my mother carrying around bic ballpoint pens and yellow legal pads in the 70s writing household budgets with poems in the margins. Fuck. That made me think of Lynda Barry. Freaking LOVE her and the freedom she’s given so many of us. Also my office mate is the award winning environmental journalist Jane Braxton Little and she’s freaking amazing too. I look up to her –though she’d say that’s because her office is on the second floor.
Margaret Elysia Garcia writes essays, fiction, memoir, and poetry. Her recent work can be HipMama and Catamaran Literary Journal as well as many other literary places. She writes the zine SadGirl with her daughter Paloma Garcia-Couoh. Her short story collection Sad Girls & Other Stories will be out this July on Solstice Literary Press. She lives in the remote northeastern corner of the Sierra Nevadas, where she teaches at Feather River College and hosts Milkshake & Honey–a women’s music radio show on Plumas Community Radio at http://www.kqny919.org. She’s also a two-time regional director for the national Listen to Your Mother show.