Podcast

Twisting Facts into Stories: 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’s debut short story collection Barefoot Dogs won the Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction and was named a Best Book by Kirkus Reviews, San Francisco Chronicle, Texas Observer and PRI’s The World. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Texas Monthly, Texas Highways, and elsewhere. His essay “In the Valley of Mirrors,” published in Texas Highways in March 2020, was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2021.

On Saturday, May 11th, Antonio Ruiz-Camacho is teaching a class for the WLT called “Twisting Facts into Stories: Reality in Fiction and Nonfiction. In this class you’ll learn how to observe reality with the eyes of a journalist and imagination of a fiction writer in order to translate facts and events into riveting stories in any genre.

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: How to turn your own memories and real-life experiences into storytelling material and use that material to write compelling fiction and nonfiction narratives.

Thanks, Antonio!

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

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