Janene Archuleta: How old
were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
AR: This is a good question, one that I've had to think about many times.
The truth is, there never was a moment like that for me. I never had a sudden epiphany
that told me, aha! I want to be a writer. Instead, I've just always written. And by
writing I mean something far more complex than simply putting a pen to paper. By writing I
also mean listening to the world, thinking about it, remembering things, being surprised
at the things I remember, and so on. If I had waited for the moment you describe, I still
wouldn't be a writer today!
Laura Whitaker: Do you have a certain reader in mind before you begin to
AR: No, not really. But I do
keep this test always in mind: Could I tell this story, or this poem, or this whatever,
could I tell it across my kitchen table? That is, I do not think of a certain reader, but
I certainly know that a reader is out there.
Laura Whitaker: Has it ever been hard for you as a writer to get in touch
with your voice? Have you ever found yourself writing, using another's words?
AR: No. This hasn't really been anything I've had to wrestle with. I know
what you mean--writers are always talking about their "voice." I think the best
advice is to just write and write and write--your voice will be in there somewhere.
Laura Whitaker: How do you use location, events and symbols to convey
what you are feeling and how that helps to develop your story?
AR: Do I use events, locations, and symbols to further the meanings in my
stories? I hope that's close to what you asked. Yes, indeed, indeed. That is one big
reason I write about the border so much, for example. As a place, it's simply one more
point of geography. But a border has many, many meanings as a symbol, and I base much of
my writing on that edge. I don't always start out thinking that every last thing I'm using
in a story is representative of something else, but very often, after writing for so many
years, the things I choose to include do often fit a greater story. I try to relax about
these things, and trust that the choices I make will always add up to something greater.
When I've tried to purposely choose something, however, I've found that writing is often
bullied around by that choice, and I lose some freedom because I know I have to pay
attention to that choice. Does that make sense?
Several students from Dr. Hubbards class: What inspired you to
write "The Secret Lion"? Was it written from your experience or was it
AR: "The Secret Lion"--ah, you've asked a good question. No,
it's not fictional at all--that is, all the physical parts of the story happened, and
those places all exist. The golf course in the hills was called Meadow Hills Country
Club--and it was so hidden I truly didn't know it was back there. We did not go to country
clubs--enough said. The dialogue and thoughts in the story, however--these were
"managed" by me. I remember the whole experience, but I didn't have a tape
recorder with me. So, I had to make up much of the thoughtful parts of the story and the
dialogue. The story is so important to me, I didn't want it to simply be thought of as a
piece of fiction. I recently revised it somewhat and included it in my last book, a memoir
about growing up on the border, called Capirotada. In that version, I don't
dramatize the story the same way. It might be of interest to some of you to take a
Next Page (2)