Wendy C. Ortiz’s writing has been featured in many, many places, and in July, we’ll be able to read her book Excavation. Wendy took time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions about her process, her inspirations, and her role models. You can find Wendy on her website, on Tumblr, on Goodreads, and on Twitter @WendyCOrtiz.
What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.
I don’t have a normal working day. My days are an amalgamation of activities depending on the day of the week. I’m a parent of a toddler, which is my first job. I may see clients in my psychotherapy internship (I’m a registered marriage and family therapist intern), I may be working at the counseling center where I set fees for new clients, I may be writing, or I may be hiking.
What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?
Reading. Television. Watching my cats (also known as “Cat TV”). Hiking.
What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.
Books, art, music, performance, and intelligent rabble-rousing. People. Complexity. Ambiguities.
In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.
Into the depths.
How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?
My process typically includes mood music depending on what I’m writing. I may spend weeks, and months thinking about an essay before I start writing it. Hiking regularly clears space in my head so I try to do that often, even at the expense of my actual writing time.
What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my first book (to be released in July 2014), Excavation: A Memoir (Future Tense Books). I’m in the final editing stages for it. I started writing a version of it in 2000 so it’s seen many changes and incarnations. I’m ready to release it into the world and see what will happen.
What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?
In the last few years I struggled with finding my audience. I published a few pieces in places where I thought I “should” publish and then felt like I had made some small nicks in my integrity for doing so. It’s taken me years to realize that I do not write for ‘general audiences’ and I myself am not a ‘general audience’–so why should I expect general audiences to get into my work? Not knowing or understanding this about myself and my writing has caused some sense of challenge/failure/embarrassment but what is there to do but move forward with this new knowledge?
Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?
Writer Lidia Yuknavitch, hands down (or hands up in the air). Poet Rae Gouirand.
What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Definitely a morning person! My ideal writing time would be 9am-1pm every day if my schedule would allow for it.
Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?
Watch compelling television, hike, spend time with friends, visit the ocean, get bodywork when I can, and, when I remember, meditate.
What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?
Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins. The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch. Fun Home and Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel. Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko. Everything by Eileen Myles. Everything by Cynthia Cruz. Everything by Verónica Reyes. Everything by Joan Didion. Everything by Dodie Bellamy. This list changes from day to day but these are my current recommendations.
What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?
Have a career or livelihood NOT based on writing. Pay attention to your gut, your instincts, and if you feel out of touch with those things, get in touch. Note synchronicities and follow up on them if possible. Consider how you develop grace & patience while juggling 20,000 things (it’ll happen).
What’s your Creative Lady motto?
Hmmm, I don’t think of myself as having a motto…but when pressed, I’d say integrity is all important to me. Everyone’s sense of their personal integrity differs and I consider my own often as a compass, a way to connect (and also disconnect) from people, situations, offers, ideas…it’s really that important to me.