Odilia Rivera Santos
One thing you can always count on in American culture is the attempt to categorize people as rigidly as possible, and the push back from people like me who refuse to accept a label. A couple of days ago someone called me a 'blogger,' and it wasn't the word 'blogger' that irritated me -- it was the dismissive tone. I have maintained blogs for three years, and prior to my blogging life, most of my work was firmly rooted in the two languages in which I am entirely proficient: Spanish and English. I translated, interpreted, and created content from the most serious to mundane and ridiculous subjects and educational materials for different organizations in Spanish and English. I also served time in formal study -- hundreds of hours in literature classes and creative writing workshops in which very talented writers critiqued each others' work, white flag waving in the wind. Keeping the peace, and sometimes, dismantling a sentence until there was nothing left but crumbs.
I love to learn something new and am always game to take a class about something foreign to my quotidian existence. My perspective of the world requires a shakeup once in a while, so I always feel it necessary to delve into unfamiliar territory. Learning feeds my process as a poet, playwright and blogger.
I do think persons who are self-assured and confident about their work raise the ire of those who are never satisfied. The never-satisfied are a tribe I find dull. There are too many interesting discoveries to make in the world to allow boredom or dissatisfaction to filter through.
Nabokov is one of my favorite writers, not just for his poetic sensibility and pristine writing style, but for his infinite curiosity about the world. He was a butterfly expert whose findings have been proved: "Harvard researchers have confirmed speculations made 65 years ago by author Vladimir Nabokov regarding the evolution of Polyommatus blue butterflies." Not bad for a writer. http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2011/1/31/butterflies-nabokov-america-over/
And poor Cervantes never made it to an MFA program -- not even a low-residency one!
The artists I most admire are those who ignore any limits others may try to impose. I became interested in the actor James Franco because he was doing unexpected things: studying literature and art, appearing on a soap opera - an acting gig usually reserved for those headed to, but not yet at, the outer stratosphere of fame and fortune.
Categorizations are for people who do not want to make time to think.
What an artist needs most is the freedom to explore creative urges.
Yesterday, I took a tour of The Noguchi Museum http://www.noguchi.org/ in Long Island City, and it was truly enthralling to watch this artist's creative process and where his explorations led him both inwardly and in the mundane world. His art reflects his experience as a Japanese-American who as a child failed to adapt to either culture and learned to create a home wherever he traveled. Noguchi led his art guide him from experience to experience and from one country to another.
Nabokov shared this trait, of creating home in foreign places, with Noguchi.
And Stephen King, whose book On Writing is one of my favorite books on writing, has a band made of fellow writers, including Maxine Hong Kingston I believe.
Language is my country and home
I have loved literature and poetry since I was a little girl --learned English reading by myself because my parents only spoke Spanish. One of my greatest joys in life is reading or listening to lectures and having faith in my own opinion and abilities. I am always open to constructive criticism, but see labeling and derisiveness as an attempt to subdue or control my sense of self.
Keeping my 'self'
I read neuroscience,exercise physiology,nutrition,life extension, politics, philosophy,and psychology articles.
Writing for me is a constant process of spiritual and intellectual growth, not an attempt to impress others. Putting oneself in the supplicant position is always a tricky proposition -- the master/slave relationship just doesn't feel good.
I study what interests me and write in a sincere free way, and thankfully, my need for approval is something I left behind with a racist teacher in the sixth grade.
I am writing a collection of essays about work entitled Work Chronicles to be published as an e-book on Smashwords in November; in the meantime, you can check out my creative nonfiction essays Latinalogue Puerto Rican Nonfiction Part I and Latinalogue Puerto Rican Nonfiction Part II: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/69697
Writers, be careful not to die of exposure.