Do you write in Spanish but live in a country where English is spoken? Here are ten ideas of how you can open spaces for you and your writing, in your own community.
1. Organize a group of writers. I meet with a group of Spanish writers twice a month in a local cafe. The first half hour we talk about life and the rest of the time we divide it equally between the members. Each writer chooses how to use his or her own allotted time. Sometimes we read our work and receive feedback; other times we discuss literary subjects of interest. I always walk away happy and inspired by my writers group. So how can you create your own Spanish writing group? Start by spreading the word and recruiting other writers: announce it in Facebook, tweeter, or post on your local library or bookstore. You can also create a Meetup http://www.meetup.com/. Don’t despair if the group doesn’t happen right away; sometimes it takes awhile to find the right people. Where there is mutual respect and patience affection will follow and this nurturing environment will help you grow as a person, and as a writer.
2. Take classes even if you have to take them in English. In the city of Seattle where I live it is difficult to find writing workshops in Spanish. I have searched in vain in universities, colleges, and foundations such as the Richard Hugo House http://hugohouse.org/ but all their classes are in English. Some schools offer online workshops in Spanish but being a Latina, I prefer the warmth of bodily presence. So I take my classes in English. I find that the tools of storytelling apply in any language. The art (seems to me) is in using those tools as the heart dictates. For those of you who like online courses here are my recommendations: www.escritores.org http://escueladeescritores.com/itinerario-novela/ and http://escueladeescritores.com/itinerario-infantil-juvenil/
3. Share what you learn. The group Seattle Escribe (Seattle Writes) was born as a result of the lack of workshops in Spanish in this city. The librarian of the Seattle Public Library, Marcela Calderon Vodall, invited me to teach at the library downtown. Today everything I learn in English I translate and share it with students in Spanish. The classes are always full because many writers crave a community that welcomes them and helps them grow, just like I do. Here is what one of my students had to say about Seattle Escribe. http://cuentos.ivanfgonzalez.com/2014/07/seattle-si-es-la-ciudad-esmeralda/ More information about the workshops in Spanish can be found here http://www.spl.org
4. Attend writers’ retreats. Most writers’ retreats require an application and a writing sample in English. Personally, I refuse to let the language get on the way of those wonderful opportunities, like the one offered by Hedgebrook http://www.hedgebrook.org/ . So I invest the extra time and work it takes to translate my work. I do it because I know that once I am in the retreat, in that sacred space (a little cabin in the forest), I will be able to write in whatever language I please. Here is another retreat that you may want to check out: http://centrum.org/programs/writing/. Some time ago I actually gave a workshop in Spanish at Centrum.
5. Participate in Spanish reading clubs. Reading good literature is the easiest and most delicious way to improve your craft. Books expand vocabulary and widen perspectives and they also will help you keep your Spanish intact, which can be a challenge for those of us living away from home. No Spanish reading clubs in your neighborhood? Then start one! That's what I did and that is how the King County Library Spanish Book Clubs began. Check it out https://mariavictoria.squarespace.com/english-blog/category/eggs-and-poetry
6. Enter writing contests. The wonderful thing about the Internet is that it allows us to participate in international competitions without leaving home. Some contests still require that manuscripts be printed and mailed but now days most will accept digital submissions. As a rule, I don’t participate in any contest that charges a reading fee. I also don’t submit my work unless it is going to be published. My personal rule is that if I find a worthy call for submission, and I choose to participate, first I have to share it with my fellow writers so they may have the same opportunity. Here is something I wrote about participating in one of those competitions that took me all the way to NY. http://thelatinoauthor.com/voice-articles/los-concursos-literarios/ By the way, some of the best contests I find in these pages: www.escritores.org www.tregolam.com and http://www.pw.org/submission_calendar
7. Get involved with writers’ associations. The first group of Latino writers I joined in Seattle was "Los Norteños" who write and publish mostly in English. Some members are bilingual and that allowed me to, at least, share some of my work. The work that needs to be done with other organizations, such as as www.pnwa.org Pacific Northwest Writers Association, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs www.awpwriter.org and the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators www.scbwi.org is precisely to open spaces for writers who write in Spanish. This publication http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=b7432984f34f892f42b86ad6b&id=2ce88571da is proof that we are gaining ground...
8. Organize presentations and readings. Almost every city in this country has funds to sponsor cultural events. Investigate which organizations support artists and writers in your city and apply for a grant for programs, like readings, for the Spanish-speaking community. A few years ago some friends and myself applied to 4Culture www.4culture.org and the Department of Neighborhoods of the City of Seattle www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/ to organize a series of trilingual readings. We were awarded the grant and readings were presented during a year in Spanish, Zapotec, Mapuche, Purepecha and English. We had a full house!
9. Participates in book fairs. You will receive many ads urging you to participate in book fairs and conferences. They are not cheap so you would be wise to be selective. In my experience they are not the best place to sell books (your earnings will barely pay for the price of the booth). The real value, I think, is in meeting agents and publishers and learning about the work they are looking for. Here is what I wrote about my participation some years ago in Los Angeles Book Fair. https://mariavictoria.squarespace.com/config#/|/blog-espanol The best thing to do is to apply to be a presenter so you don’t have to pay the conference fee (usually you still have to pay for traveling and lodging expenses)
10. Don’t give up! Such was the last advice my father ever gave me, and so I pass it on to you. Push forward! You are not alone. https://mariavictoria.squarespace.com/config#/pages/526054fbe4b068f7ae48b500|/blog-espanol/category/un-regalo-de-navidad