Odilia Rivera Santos
Language is music; i first listen to the rhythm of someone's speech and then, i listen for meaning -- the words come into view - as if i were taking a picture.
adjustments allow the image/words to come into view. i watch for some basic mannerisms and like a collector, i accumulate gestures, sounds, images to create a sensation and that sensation leads to a character.
Each character, when developed well, has a trajectory; it is natural and even the surprises can be accommodated. those actions that appear out of character are a part of my character, the one i just invented, because there is a seed in his or her basic makeup that could grow in that direction.
in real life, people surprise us. the person who does something very daring after a sedate life has show signs of discomfort with her comfort and therein lies the seed.
prior to writing something lengthy, i clear my space, not of spirits, but of unnecessary items. organizing and pruning those objects around me is a ritual that helps me organize ideas and helps me get into the flow.
music in the background or talk shows on the radio help guide me from beginning to end.
socializing is something that i can enjoy in small doses; i am not one to go to the opening of an envelope. it isn't a matter of shyness. i find that spending a short amount of time in large groups works well for me.
i am not a spoken word poet or a gregarious performer whose work is fueled by endless interactions with strangers. although i can be loud and gregarious.
we all have to know who we are and accept our personalities in order to enjoy life as opposed to thinking the way someone else presents their work or networks is the correct way.
writing groups don't work for me because they often attract people who are not ready to share their work and they come to the group expecting a cheerleading session to encourage him or her to read. the chorus shouting, "Come on! We really want to hear what you wrote."
if a person claims to be a writer and doesn't want to share his or her work, i don't think going to a writers' group makes sense. it would make more sense for that person to stay home or take a class.
writers' group can't work with wildly varying levels of ability. inevitably, the least polished and most polished writers will be psychically paired in a mentor/mentee relationship, which defeats the purpose of the writing group.
writing groups in which writers, who are peers, create prompts and share quick writing assignments to practice spontaneity, virtuosity, etc., are great. it is useful to add another element to writing when possible but the element should be one conducive to getting more work done or improving the quality of one's work.
reading is a great pleasure for me and i am always reading two or three books. in order to have something to say, you have to know something about what others have thought. i am interested in literature, poetry, psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, music and nutrition.
reading a lot makes my writing more fluid and confident.
location is important for the process of writing. i enjoy going to coffee shops in lower manhattan to drink cappuccino and occasionally get a glimpse of people walking by. sometimes, it is pleasant to be around people so that writing does not feel such a lonely activity without having to interact.
solitude is a way to recharge my batteries; i enjoy spending time completely alone without interaction with others save for those superficial exchanges at the gym or health food store.
discipline and organization is a big part of my life; i write everyday even if i don't feel well, if i have a migraine or if i am sad or if i am physically exhausted.
i also exercise everyday even if it's a short workout at home because my body becomes restless if i don't do some rigorous activity.
if it is one of those days that make me feel that everything is a burden, i write outlines -- short ideas that act as a seed, a seed that will blossom into something of which i am proud and am happy to claim.
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