We have a real treat today in the writer’s studio to hear from author and creative writing instructor, John Paul Jaramillo.
John Paul grew up in Southern Colorado but now lives, writes and teaches in Springfield, Illinois. He earned his MFA in creative writing (fiction) from Oregon State University and, currently, holds the position of Associate Professor of English in the Arts and Humanities Department of Lincoln Land Community College.
I took advantage of his expertise as both a writer and someone who works with beginning writers as students to ask an array of questions related to his work, advice, and future plans. Learn more about his collection of short stories, The House of Order and enter for a chance to win a range of prizes!
What is your one piece of must know advice for aspiring writers?
I tell my creative writing students to think of form more than meaning. To think about how they tell stories almost more than the stories they want to tell. To think about form more than what stories are selling or popular. I also tell them to read as much as possible but also I tell them to put those influences away and write as much as possible. At some level a writer has to spend hours a day drafting rather than hours a day reading. I value reading and investigation of narrative but once those models inspire and assist our process I think it is important to labor with the drafts more than any other text. I think writers have to devote so much of their time to their desks and chairs to conduct the work of writing. I know many students that wait to be inspired rather than commit and re-commit to re-envisioning work. Folks perhaps don’t understand how difficult it can be.
Is there an unforgettable lesson you learned from writing this book you wouldn’t have known otherwise?
The book is intimate and is filled with imaginings and retelling and re-crafting of old family stories. Most of the stories come from my writing in graduate school at Oregon State. They represent quite a bit of revision and reworking. I was exploring what kind of stories I wanted to tell and what kind of stories I could tell. Over the past five years I’ve tweaked and developed these stories into a greater story arc and trajectory. I think I learned, more so than anything else, how story telling or fiction writing is about the finding of the story as opposed to the capturing of the story.
Any challenges for you as you wrote and published this book?
The biggest challenge had to be incorporating ‘slanguage’ and so much of the Spanish idioms I grew up using. Capturing the language of the old folks of my family. Being honest to that but also keeping the story with a certain amount of clarity. There are fewer and fewer venues and publications that embrace the odd kind of stories and the odd kind of mix of languages and slang I wanted to tell.
Have you started your next project?
I have so much material based around Southern Colorado. I have stories about my father’s side of the family and stories about my mother’s side. But I’m constantly developing the form or the structure of those stories. I have more stories about my father and my uncle. In the writing they are Relles and Neto. I’m hoping the material will shape up into a novel or another collection of composite stories. I feel that the form will dictate the stories. Many of the characters that feature in this book feature in many of my stories and as I tweak and re-draft material I won’t be content until I capture the most effective form or structure for the stories.
Anything else you want to readers to know?
I have a writing and teaching weblog at johnpauljaramillo.com where I discuss the differences of writing and teaching. I tell my students I feel that I am a better writer than I am a teacher. I post quite a bit about the differences between teachers who majored in and study literature rather than those teachers who majored in creative writing. Dare I say those who create literature or art? I think fiction writers look at writing in a little different way than lit majors. Looking at literature and how it is constructed instead of what it means or what literary trend it represents. Thanks again for the interview.
Novel Publicity Blog Tour Notes:
Wanna win a $50 gift card or an autographed copy of The House of Order? Well, there are two ways to enter…
- Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 gift card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit the official House of Order tour page.
- Enter the Rafflecopter contest! I’ve posted the contest form below, or you can enter on the official House of Order tour page–either way works just as well.
About the author: John Paul Jaramillo grew up in Southern Colorado but now lives, writes and teaches in Springfield, Illinois. He earned his MFA in creative writing (fiction) from Oregon State University and, currently, holds the position of Associate Professor of English in the Arts and Humanities Department of Lincoln Land Community College. Connect with John Paul on his website, Facebook, Twitter or GoodReads.
Get The House of Order on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.