Me getting writing advice from Denise Chavez

One of the highlights of my second semester of grad school residency has to be meeting two of my literary heroines and gaining another one.

Cristina Garcia is artistic director of the Prt. Townsend Writer’s Conference, which overlaps the summer residency. When I saw her on the schedule I made plans to go. No way I was missing her. Dreaming In Cuban got me through Corpus Christi and is one of the books instrumental in guiding me down this path to being a writer. I usually describe Dreaming in Cuban as chocolate cake. That’s because it’s delicious and thick with meaning and beautifulness. The book is short but took me six months to finish. It scared me at first, to feel something that deeply for words on a page. Reminded me of when I feel in love with words in the first place. Her book told me to not be afraid to dream. The spiral began with her.

Cristina Garcia is amazing, amazing, amazing. So nice. So gracious. And not at all alarmed at my fan girlishness. She was so welcoming and nice.  So awesome to meet her.

Cristina Garcia, me, and Ana Menendez

Also awesome to meet…Ana Menendez. I cried when she left the Herald. She got me through Wichita. Another author that was instrumental in getting me down this writing path. I would read her column twice a week when things were particularly rough in Kansas. She and Junot Diaz reminded me of myself, that I was more than what they said I was, more than what they thought I was. I was more. They were the proof of what I could be, that I could step out and claim this crazy, nutty, idea of being a writer. Proof that people would like what came from my fingers and my mind even if my bosses didn’t.

Me, Cristina Garcia, Denise Chavez

Denise Chavez reminds me of Houston. She’s not from there but she reminds me of the part of me that grew up in H-town’s east side, the way the heat plays with your mind, the way beer tastes the first time, the way the mother language rolls off your tongue…like that. She’s all that’s good and true and right. She is why writing is an art and art is a gift. She is magical. And it was a privilege to not only see her read, but talk to her and get some writing advice from her.

This was truly something special for me. Not something I will soon forget. These women, these writing Goddesses are the goal. They make me aspire to write, to find my voice, craft it, and deliver it to waiting eyes. I hope one day to do them proud.