Podcast

Making Your First Pages Impeccable: 5 Questions for Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

Writing, as a profession, is all about rejection and self-doubt. Regardless of your accomplishments, these two elements never go away. The way I deal with both is simply by showing up and focusing on the process, not the end result. I write because I love writing, the process of writing.” -Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho was born and raised in Toluca, Mexico. He moved to the U.S. at the age of 31 and began to write in English at 35. A former Knight Journalism fellow at Stanford University and a Dobie Paisano fellow in fiction by the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Institute of Letters, he earned his MFA from The New Writers Project at UT Austin. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Texas Monthly and elsewhere. He is the author of the story collection Barefoot Dogs (Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Book of Fiction 2015) and the forthcoming novel The Healing Room.

On Saturday, May 7th, Antonio Ruiz-Camacho is teaching a class for the WLT called “Opening Pages in Fiction. In this class you’ll learn the importance of openings in fiction, what they should accomplish, and how to craft compelling first lines to capture your readers’ curiosity.

Here’s what Antonio had to share with us:


Scribe: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you write? How did you come to writing?

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho: I’m a fiction, nonfiction and journalism writer. I’m originally from Mexico but I’ve been living in Austin since 2004. I think I started writing when I was in middle school – these very vivid images would come to me in flashes and they wouldn’t stop haunting until I sat down and wrote them down. Pretty much that’s how my fiction writing process still works today.

Scribe: In your own work, how do you approach overcoming the challenges that come with writing, be it writer’s block or craft or business-related challenges?

ARC: Writing, as a profession, is all about rejection and self-doubt. Regardless of your accomplishments, these two elements never go away. The way I deal with both is simply by showing up and focusing on the process, not the end result. I write because I love writing, the process of writing – everything else, be it publishing, getting awards, promoting a book, applying for fellowships, having your work reviewed, I honestly don’t like it. It’s my least favorite part of the whole business. But sitting down and writing, getting lost in a story and playing with it, or wrestling with it, that’s what I love and that’s what I try to focus solely on.

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?

ARC: It’s the little breakthroughs that help me figure out where a story is going, what the characters want. Characters dictate what they want, where they want to go or not. My job as a writer is to listen to them, earn their trust, and get them to open up to me so I can write their story – it’s basically a journalistic endeavor, only with fictional writers. Every time I get the characters to reveal something new about them, a new direction, there’s a breakthrough.

Scribe: What piece of advice do you find yourself giving to writers again and again?

ARC: Don’t get discouraged by rejection or self-doubt, just assume that both are intrinsic to writing.

Scribe: What is one thing that people will take away from this class?

ARC: Get a sense of what makes a compelling opening and how to lure your readers in from the very first paragraph.

Thanks, Antonio!

Click here to learn more about Antonio Ruiz-Camacho’s upcoming class.

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho class quote

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