Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Julie Schwietert Collazo

Julie Schwietert Collazo is a bilingual (English-Spanish) writer based in New York City. Her work on a wide range of subjects—from food and farming to art, technology, and human rights—has been published by a variety of magazines. She is also co-author of Pope Francis in His Own Words and sole author of Moon New York State.

Julie Schwietert Collazo
Julie Schwietert Collazo


Who are you? I've never been a fan of the clever bio, so let me just shoot straight: I'm a writer (non-fiction; fiction has never been my interest and definitely not my forté) who, above all, is interested in stories about overlooked people and places, especially if they're in/about/related to Latin America. I'm someone who feels a certain urgency about collecting and disseminating stories so that they don't get lost forever. It's a losing battle, of course—there are just too many stories to tell—but I think every one makes a difference in some small way. Which, by the way, is not to say that everything I write is serious and ponderous and significant. I have many interests (as Walt Whitman said, "I am large, I contain multitudes") and not all of those lend themselves to serious expression, which is fine; it keeps my work days varied and interesting.

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would youdescribe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation? Remember, you're in a hot tub with them on a clear cold night, stars twinkling above you. They want all the details. If your work doesn't live online, tell the hot-tub-stranger about your writing in such a way that makes them urge you to get an online receptacle for it. Online, I can be found a few places. My two blogs: www.collazoprojects.com and www.cuadernoinedito.wordpress.com. The former is a bit of a hodge-podge, an online repository (my own little sandbox, I suppose) where I can post those pieces that I either haven't pitched and placed successfully or which I'm not interested in having published elsewhere. It's also a spot where you can find a list of all my published work, with links to clips available online. The latter blog isn't written in Spanish, as the name suggests. It's a blog about the writing and editing life, and I give honest, transparent takes on the ups and downs and pros and cons of this profession.

I'm also on most social media platforms as @collazoprojects.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? I've been a writer forever, but before I was a professional writer, I was a creative arts therapist and psychotherapist who specialized in the use of writing (memoir, poetry, creative writing) with clients. So in a way, I've always been doing the same work—namely, using myself as the platform or vehicle through which people can share their stories—but I've just gone about it in a variety of ways.

Why do you write? I don't have an "off" switch as a writer; I guess I just wasn't born with one. I see everything as a story (or, at least, a potential story) and so I write because I don't really have a choice—there's no switch I can turn off to stop seeing the world as one big, tangled, and fascinating narrative, with millions of subplots begging to be pulled out and polished.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? I'm inspired by anyone who has a fine eye for granular details. I love Pablo Neruda and, in particular, his odes, for this reason; he looks at the most ordinary of objects and, through his observations and words, renders them extraordinary. Anyone who can do that has a very special gift. I'm equally inspired by writers who exhibit two similar traits: insatiable curiosity and absolute respect for their subjects and the stories that are entrusted to them. I just finished reading Craig Childs' Finders Keepers, a book about archaeology, and I was so inspired by the example he set of treating every person he interviewed for the book—people who had extreme conflicting opinions and beliefs—with the same respect, the same belief that they would teach him or share something with him that would enhance his understanding of the subject and, by extension, would enhance ours as readers.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? I know I should probably say something grandiose like a round-the-world journey or, at the very least, to a place or region that is far-flung and financially not as accessible to me, but really, I'd just like to be sent to Mexico and explore the country for the rest of my life...with no intent of arriving anywhere in particular.

What is your favorite place on earth? Mexico City. It's my former home and I have a really hard time explaining it, but the first time I landed there, I knew it was "my" place. It's chaotic and crazy and contradictory and I feel like it's the physical, geographical embodiment of my own interior. I guess that's the best way to put it. Plus, the food is exceptional.

Anything else you'd like us to know? Nope. :)

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