“I encourage writers to find ways to write with joy… Take care of yourself as a writer; it’s necessary to the process.” –Alex Temblador
Alex Temblador is the award-winning author of Half Outlaw and Secrets of the Casa Rosada. Her forthcoming book, Writing an Identity Other Than Your Own, was acquired by St. Martin’s Essentials in 2022. Alex’s work has appeared in outlets like PALABRITAS and D Magazine, as well as anthologies like Living Beyond Borders: Growing Up Mexican in America and Speculative Fiction for Dreamers: A Latinx Anthology. In addition to founding the LitTalk series, Alex teaches creative writing and is an award-winning journalist with publications in Conde Nast Traveler, Outside, Nat Geo, among many others.
On Wednesday, February 8th, Alex Temblador is teaching a class for the WLT called “Magical Realism: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary.“ In this class you’ll learn about the conventions of magical realism and how to bring elements of this genre into your own work.
Here’s what Alex had to share with us:
Scribe: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you write? How did you come to writing?
Alex Temblador: I was first a reader before I was a writer. Stories gave me life and so it was no surprise that I wanted to write my own stories starting in junior high. Unfortunately, I believed the world when they told me that I couldn’t have a writing career. That was until my second year in college when I took a creative writing class and said – “F*** it. This is what I’m supposed to do.” I went and got my MFA in Creative Writing. After graduating, it took a few years to get a book contract, so in the meantime, I became a freelance writer which led me to publishing in a variety of big-name outlets like Travel & Leisure, Outside, National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler, among others.
Now I’m an author and a journalist, but I hope to one day be more of a full-time author and a part-time journalist. I believe I’m well on my way.
Scribe: In your own work, how do you approach overcoming the challenges that come with writing, be it writer’s block, sticking to your goals, or craft or business-related challenges?
AT: There are so many challenges to being a writer, but I’ve managed to put some things into practice that have helped along the way. I don’t really suffer writer’s block anymore thanks to my practice of creating outlines, consuming media (books, TV, films, podcasts, etc.), and attending literary events. I also have a great system in place when I’m working on my books – 15 minutes of writing in the morning, and that’s it. With an outline in hand, I can finish a first draft in about three months or less.
As for the business side of things, that can be a little bit more difficult. I’ve found that having a close-knit group of writers in my life has been incredibly helpful. I’m so thankful to have supportive writer friends who offer insight on contracts, story ideas, and issues that arise in publishing, or offer to beta read for me, provide blurbs, and share my work on social media.
Beyond my support system, I’ve come to learn – especially in the past year – that I have to continue to believe in myself and my work, which means standing up for myself, knowing what I need as a writer from publishers, editors, and literary agents, and staying true to who I am as a storyteller. With that in mind, I can move forward with more faith and confidence in my writing career, which will hopefully help me in the long run.
Scribe: Has there been a moment of epiphany in terms of your work, when you thought, “This is it! Now I know what I’m doing?” How long did that feeling last?
AT: I usually get that feeling for the first time during the editing process. It arises when I read a certain scene that is far more poetic in style than I thought I could write. When my book is published, I read my novel like a reader, and I find that I get that feeling during that reading experience too. The feeling may not last as long as I would like it to, but each time it happens, it’s a positive reinforcement that sticks with me and reminds me that I can do this, I can tell stories, I can write.
Scribe: What piece of advice do you find yourself giving to writers again and again?
AT: My writing advice changes constantly, and I’ve recently gained some new insight into my writing process that I’d like to share here. Writing can be taxing on your emotions and mental health, especially if you tell certain stories that dig deep into who you are as a person. I encourage writers to find ways to write with joy. This might mean writing a story that has a happy ending, writing in a new genre, or writing something that you know will never get published. Some writing may just be a palette cleanser, and that’s okay. Take care of yourself as a writer; it’s necessary to the process.
Scribe: What is one thing that people will take away from this class?
AT: My favorite thing about magical realism is that it’s a genre that expands your perspective. It asks the writer to look at the world, situations, and people in a new light, to question everything. In this class, you will be encouraged to do the same – and you’ll find that questioning and expanding your perspective is fun! Through magical realism writing exercises, writers will be pushed out of their comfort zone and produce some stories, scenes, and characters that they never expected to discover. It’s my favorite thing to see when I teach this class. Come join me this Wednesday and let’s have fun with writing.
Click here to learn more about Alex Temblador’s upcoming class.