At the end of the post I link to the bloggers (Killian Czuba, Moye Ishimoto Otto) who I've tagged to join the Blog Hop next. Look out for their posts next week!
What am I working on?
The answer to this question felt different before yesterday morning. I woke up and learned of the passing of Maya Angelou. At first, I felt sadness, but then, a deep sense of peace. I prayed to the internet gods to send me the perfect Maya Angelou quote, of so many gems of wisdom, to capture what I was feeling, and they gave me this: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” She did it. She survived, thrived, completed her mission, and moved on.
Okay, so what does this have to do with what I'm working on? I'm getting there. Gah, leave it to me to complicate such a simple question. The point is that my writing is always connected to my mission in life. And right now, I'm moving toward giving writing a more central role in my life, becoming one of those crazy inspirational people who knows what they want to do and sets out to do exactly that. Up until now, I've been approaching this shift in all the practical ways, by figuring out the business of writing, finding answers to the terrifying question of where I'll get my income, and working relentlessly to launch my new website.
That stuff's all great and important. But now, I'm reminding myself of why I'm doing this. It's to live as Maya Angelou lived, with passion, in pursuit of my dreams. So, I'm working on reconnecting with my reasons for writing and creating what's meaningful to me.
I feel like I answered this question wrong. But then again, Maya Angelou said, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” And by those standards, I'm right on track!
How is my work different than others in its genre?
Well, according to my answer to that last question, it's different in that only I can write the stories and poems I write, which is true for all of us. The concept of genre attempts to link writers with similar styles or themes to point out how they're all, on some level, the same. Right now, I'm reveling in the intersections that make me different. My identity, and therefore my writing, encompass many things, and those things are considered by some to be contradictory. I am black, a woman, queer, a woman of faith, an explorer of sexuality, a nerd, a social justice advocate, a survivor of violence, and more. And my work is different in that it melds my many varying experiences together to express one unique voice.
Why do I write what I do?
Because I can. No, stay with me, because that sounds simple, but it carries with it a lot of historical and cultural context. There have been many times in my life when I felt I couldn't express who I am, and especially not the whole of who I am. I'm still working to grow out of that, every day of my life. So to write what I write, with love for my whole self, without apology, is a truly radical act.
How does my writing process work?
I have many, many influences in my writing. So I feel that I can't describe my writing process without acknowledging my process of reading, taking in the work of powerful writers like Audre Lorde and Gwendolyn Brooks, and contemporary blogs like Black Girl Dangerous and Crunk Feminist Collective, to help inform my work. But at the end of the day, the only voice I can capture is my own, so my writing process involves a meditative journey to quiet my mind, listen to my own intuition, and create.
Erica Eller is a writer who lies in wait. She is in the initial stages of writing an experimental novella that involves historical research. Previously, she postponed her creative projects while finishing her M.A. in Literature at San Francisco State University, which she recently completed. She wrote her thesis over the course of the last year on a collection of poems entitled Singularities by the experimental American poet, Susan Howe. Erica also holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Currently, she is traveling for an extended period of time in Berlin and Istanbul. She is the creator of the Hazel Reading Series, a San Francisco Bay Area women’s reading series. Erica spoke in a panel at the AWP in Seattle this February of 2014 regarding the concept of the series, which continues in her absence due to the dedication of her fellow organizers (hazelreadingseries.org). She has published fiction in the Otolith and Everyday Genius. Her blog entitled Pomp and Intertext is a compilation of casual reviews, anecdotes, and commentary about an eclectic array of literary texts.