Wendy C. Ortiz is the author of Excavation: A Memoir, Hollywood Notebook, and the forthcoming Bruja. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, HAZLITT MAGAZINE, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and The Nervous Breakdown, among other places. Wendy co-founded the Rhapsodomancy Reading Series, which she has curated and hosted since 2004.
Wendy C. Ortiz! Do you ever publish your work without compensation or for a nominal fee? If so, why, and how do you feel about doing it?
If I'm excited by a concept, I'll publish my work without compensation. This sometimes means that I participate when a writer I admire solicits work for a new journal they're involved in, or I'm approached by an unusual literary project or journal with an idea or constraint to work with. Those are the only situations, for now, that I'll consider publishing without compensation.
Does your craft alone provide you with a livelihood?
If you have to hold a day job to supplement your income, or just make a living at all, do you feel you have as much time as you need to write?
I may never feel I have as much time as I need to write. I've learned to live with this feeling and fiercely protect the time I do have.
How do you know for sure when something in your work still needs another revision?
I could probably take every piece of writing, published or not, and decide it still could use another revision.
When revising something in your work, how do you know for sure when it’s truly time to stop?
When I've hit a deadline or gone beyond a deadline; when there's no deadline but I feel I've hit the limit in my body.
Do you feel that being a writer was a choice or a calling for you?
I've felt compelled to write since I could hold a pencil, so this might fall under the heading "calling" — but I have to say, we all make a choice of whether or not we will "be a writer" and I have always chosen YES.
BONUS ROUND FOR PURE PLEASURE: What book did you probably read too young and it therefore haunted you forever after?
There was a book in the children's section of the public library I used to return to over and over. It had a "recipe" for becoming a werewolf. I'm mostly haunted by wanting to find it again to see if it was indeed meant for children.