Q & A
Keep 'em coming, folks! This looks like it will be fun. I am answering the questions of "Esteban" and an anonymous poster. I get rich emails--a lot--and I try to answer those directly. But this is certainly the way to create our mutual writing text. After this posting, I'll put up the newest "Wastelander's Notebook" for the tour in Spring '06. I was asked about formatting and planning books--whether I outline or not. Excellent question, mysreious reader. The format dictates itself to me. For example, some things want to be poems, and some things want to be essays. But I don't think that's what you want to know. You're asking about books, right? I have a plan, but having too much of a plan feels like cheating. If you ever see me doing my reading tours and lectures, you'll notice I never use notes. It don't mean a thing if you ain't got that swing! And I always feel like preparation is cheating--not you, or me, or even the text (though those are elemtns)--but cheating the spirit (or SPIRITS) of writing itself. All that being said, both The Devil's Highway and The Hummingbird's Daughter were based on historical fact. Though one was fiction and one was not. So the stately and sometimes unruly parade of days and events lent a framework to what I had to write. However, I know where I want to go--always. I just don't know how to get there till I start to write...and often, the destination changes. Do I use documents in my writing? Yes, absolutely. Whether they're research notes or archival materials or diskettes--I have boxes full. I just got some legal documents written by Lauro Aguirre, for example. Here comes Hummingbird II! However, I also keep notebooks. I function as my own library, and I'm a magpie, picking up shiny quotes, poems, signs, overheard dialogue, dreams, letters, data. How do ideas manifest? Are they already in the paper, waiting to be revealed? That, of course, refers to sculptors bringing a sculpture out of the marble where it is trapped. Hmm. I think many stories are in the ether. Rudolfo Anaya says we write to guide the spirits home. Were my writing classes at UCSD helpful? I have a simmering disgust for UCSD, I'll wanr you. Bilge-eating swewr worms, the lot of them. But when I was a callow youth, those classes changed my life. No question. Dr. Wai-lim Yip exposed me to Chinese and Asian poets. Dr. Wesling taught me to control my more operatic purple instincts. Lowry Pei freed my mind--and, as George Clinto promised--my ass did follow...he got me out of Cali and into Harvard. Ursula K. Le Guin led a grand workshop that steered me in the right direction...and led to my first big publication in her anthology, Edges. besides, I got to take her to her first visit to Star Wars. How could that not make you a better writer! Do I apply learnings from those classes? I apply the best education I ever got--from mt high school drama teacher, Diane Curran. From my mentor, Cesar Gonzalez at Mesa College. And from God's machine, Pastor Von (see Across the Wire). My other teachers are legion. Including you. Finally, what place does Spanish have? I write mostly in English. I dream in English. I write poems in Spanish that I mostly hate. However, when I got to Mexico, in a matter of days, I am dreaming in Spanish. then I write in Spanish. OK? I hope that addressed some of your questions. Thanks for asking! Pax, Luigius

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