A Little on Running Are-Lit

This fall semester I’ve done most of my blog writing at home instead of hanging out at a café. I rent a three-bedroom apartment with eleven other family members; an aunt and uncle, two grandparents, and seven cousins. 

I’m blessed with my own bedroom. Tiny and comfy but mostly cluttered because I don’t listen when I tell myself, “You have no more space!” I bring home free books from the library and Tupperware from my momma no matter what. 

I was also recently gifted a mini fridge from my older sister, Diana. Now my writing is only interrupted by bathroom breaks and when I need more water. 

I have a desk I don’t use. It’s more of a shelf now. A fluffy pillow on the floor is all I really need to get settled to write. I’ll admit sometimes it’s not the best workspace because I lean right over and take a nap. 

Drinking coffee on the floor isn’t the greatest either. After knocking over my cup a bunch of times, and most recently cough syrup, I hid all the stains with a dramatic carpet made out of scarfs. Don’t tell the landlord!

When thinking up helpful blog posts, I’ve used my tutoring experience from the fiction department at Columbia. 

My tutees needed help with different story elements, and I’d think of published pieces to bring as models and journaling exercises.

For example, one of my tutees struggled with character development. They would state what the characters were like instead of showing through dialogue, action, motivation, etc.   

I brought Cesar Aira’s How I Became a Nun to our session.

We read the first chapter where a father takes his daughter out for ice cream. It’s her very first time trying it, and she hates the taste. He forces her to eat it anyway because he thinks she should appreciate his kind gesture. Even when she’s in tears and disgust, he has the nerve to say he likes ice cream, so she should like it, too. The little girl ends up contaminated with cyanide poisoning. 

We discussed the father’s actions and his dialogue to interpret what kind of person he is, and how this scene was stronger in showing than merely declaring the father as controlling and insensitive. Then for homework, I assigned a character model-telling, the pattern of a repeated experience.

I create my blog posts with a lesson plan approach. But more casual and brief since those tutoring sessions were up to two hours long. 

After hours of writing in my tiny bedroom, the vibe starts feeling heavy. I take a break by stepping out into the living room with my family. 

I complain about the revising process, and my cousins don’t pretend to know what I’m talking about. I cuddle with them on the couch, and we watch films.

After a while, I say something like, “Well, I should probably go back to writing.” But I end up chilling for another hour.

Distractions are part of running this blog.

Nearly all of my cuddle buddies: (left to right) Sisi (3), Mia (1), Jenny (11), Gotham (3, Sisi’s twin), Haagen (4), and Morrison (5).

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Arely Anaya


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