Miquila Alejandre on Making Eye Contact and Being Enough
Miquila Alejandre received a BA from UC Berkeley and an MFA from CCA. I met her through Quiet Lightning and was struck by the incredible balance in her prose: It’s often fun and sexy, but always profound. She has a chapbook with the lovely Deconstructed Artichoke Press called Training Bras, and you can read excerpts from her novel-in-progress.
When people ask what do you do, you tell them … ?
“I write. I’ve taken the year off from teaching to publish my first two novels.”
What’s your biggest struggle — work or otherwise?
If someone said, “I want to do what you do,” what advice would you have for them?
You can’t just wait for inspiration to strike. A great writer once told me, “Writing has to be work.” That isn’t to say you shouldn’t enjoy it — it is just to say, sometimes you won’t. And at those times, your commitment to writing has to come before your feelings.
Do you consider yourself successful? Why?
I’m going to say “Yes, I am successful,” because if I don’t believe it, who will?
When you’re sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?
The Charlie Bit Me one still gets me:
Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?
When I was 10 years old I admired my auntie Sandra. I also wanted to be someone who traveled to faraway places and never stopped feeling the magic of childhood.
Describe your week in the wilderness. It doesn’t have to be ideal.
I’m really going to do this. I’ll find a place near a river or other bathable body of water. There will be a field surrounded by fragrant trees and flowers, and this is where I’ll set up my tent. I’ll have lots of layers of clothes to keep my proclivity for coldness from ruining my experience, including a pair of those pants people who live in colder states wear, the jeans with thermal linings. I’ll spend my days hiking and my nights dreaming into the stars. And writing, of course. And dancing.
Would you ever perform a striptease? Describe some of your moves. Feel free to set the mood.
I once watched the striptease scene from that Schwarzenegger movie on repeat to learn her moves. I was really nervous about it though — definitely thought about it way too much — and my boyfriend and I broke up before I got a chance to try it out. I’d do it for a boyfriend in the future. I’d still be nervous, but I think I could do the whole fake-it-til-you-make-it thing this time. It could be fun!
How much money do you have in your checking account?
Just that question stresses me out. Not enough.
What is your fondest memory?
I don’t have one in particular; but every memory I have of dashing unabashedly or meeting someone’s eyes and feeling their soul fills me with a lot of fondness.
How many times do you fall in love each day?
I couldn’t count that.
What would you like to see happen in your lifetime?
I would like to see everyone I love secure in the conviction that they are enough, that they are the source of all they have and do not have in their lives, and that they can do whatever they set their minds to.
What is art? Is it necessary? Why?
Art brings beauty into our world. It is a physical manifestation of something beyond our realm of understanding. That feels very necessary.
When you have sex, what are some of the things you like to do?
Ha! I like … to make eye contact. To connect on a soul-level. That’s all I want to share!
What are you working on right now?
Finding an agent. Deciding what I’m going to write my next novel about.
What kind of work would you like to do? Or: what kind of writing do you most admire?
Writing that cares about the poetry in prose.
If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?
It would be hotter on a regular basis.
A night on the town, what does that mean to you?
Bright lights, interesting stops particular to that city, fun new drinks, dressing up, quality time spent with at least one loved one.
What can you do with 50 words? $50?
For $50 I could get an awesome hour-long full-body massage in the Mission, buy a book, get a Vietnamese sandwich and a beer, and enjoy myself at Dolores Park until the sun goes down. A perfect day.
What are some of your favorite smells?
I love this question! Fresh cut grass, the scent of dirt, pine trees, eucalyptus, the cement after it rains.
If you got an all-expenses-paid life experience of your choice, what would it be?
A trip around the world, no rushing, no worries about money, with two tickets for friends to meet me up somewhere along the way.