I know, it’s been a while (about a year and a half – I think). So I figured it was time to pay attention to my blog and give it a facelift, let it catch up to where I am these days. I’ve done some reflective thinking and an overhaul of who I am and what this blog means to me was in order.
Here goes it:
Since finishing school (December 2013) things have been going fairly well for me. First off, I finally I earned my B.A. in English Creative Writing. It was tough – 10 years TOUGH. But I did it and I am proud.
As school was nearing its end, I was planning my journey into furthering my education. I originally was ready to jump right into an MA or MFA program and after being accepted into the CSUN Creative Writing MA program I was very excited. However, I ultimately decided not to make that jump just yet, and to take it slow and explore all other options. I was really enjoying not having to go to class, plus, the lack of money for tuition was a big influence on my decision.
However, no worries here because I am still a student, in truth forever a student. As a graduation gift, my boss who is also one of my many mentors gave me a semester’s worth of classes with the poet and teacher, Jack Grapes in his Method Writing class in Los Angeles. It has changed my writing – it has changed my life. It had been so long since I had last written for myself or for the sake of art or for the sake of writing. For a very long time now, I had been writing for a grade, writing to impress a professor, writing to impress my peers, writing to get into a graduate program. This change really allowed me to relax and actually focus on what I want to write and to really invest myself into plans and project ideas that I’ve allowed to sit on the back burner for too long a time. I have now been in Jack’s class for more than a year and am learning so much and am feeling very good about it. He provides 4 semesters a year, each 6 weeks long. It is so different and just what I needed.
I of course will always value the education I received at CSUN in the traditional school setting and still use what I learned. It is after all what further ignited my passion for writing. However, it’s good to have a break from the academic side of writing so that I may focus on the creative side. Who knows if I will end up doing an MFA program in the future. I still very much want to and if I do, then great, bring it on! But as of right now, I am fine with where I am. I realized, that I don’t need that degree to be a writer – I already am one. Yes, the MFA could give me a leg up in the professional world with job hunting and such but for now I am happy just taking Jack Grapes’ Method Writing Approach. In the end, I shall see what the future holds in regards to school and my writing, after all she is a fickle mistress.
Another new development is that I have decided to change my name when it comes to being published. Dont get me wrong, I LOVE my name. I love my WHOLE name – I love the way it sounds and the way it looks when its all spelled out, each name with its double letters creating a snakelike force to be tangled with. I originally published under Alessandra Rebekkah Castellanos. But let’s be honest here – that’s a mouthful for people to say. I’m really just begging for people to butcher my name. Alessandra is hard enough for people, half the time they call me Alexandra or Alejandra and if we add Rebekkah and Castellanos to the mix, I’m afraid peoples mouths would spontaneously combust. I’ve had people suggest that I remove my middle name to make it easier but I feel that it’s just as important, I don’t know, perhaps I’m vain when it comes to my name. In any case, I am fully aware that there are many people who can say my name just fine, but I feel like ultimately what I want is for people to focus on my writing, on what I have to say, on the art that I create.
Therefore I have abbreviated my first and middle names and will now (hopefully if I continue to get published in the future) be known as A. R. Castellanos. I really think that this allows the reader to focus on the piece. I also feel it adds mystery and ambiguity to whether I am female or male, and it doesn’t allow the reader to make any snap judgments before reading the actual work, which often happens as the literary world is still at times one sided when it comes to gender. I’m not saying I’ve been a victim to this kind of treatment but I unfortunately do know those that have been, I just feel that this change was needed and it feels right. So in regards to my writing, A. R. Castellanos it is!
Here’s a look at a chapbook I created for Jack’s class with my newly minted professional writer name. I think it looks pretty cool.
Lastly, and therefore in keeping up with these developments, I have tried to update this site. Aside from the theme (the look and experience of this blog which I feel is now giving off a nice clean writerly mood), I also changed the web address. So from now on, it is arcastellanos.wordpress.com instead of alessandrawrites.wordpress.com. I will still be keeping up with the theme of AlessandraWrites because I am still just me and I am still just writing. I’m not a huge success (although I would love to be someday) and I want to keep it relaxed, so although I strive to be a professional writer, I do also very much enjoy just keeping it simple. And ultimately, if anyone wants to look me up after reading my work they would be able to do so by searching under my published name. Who knows if anyone will bother, but nonetheless, the option is there. I hope that all makes sense. Remember, it’s still me writing.
Until next time,
P.S. I have a few publications coming out soon, so stay tuned.