Welcome to ‘Beyond The Ink’ an Original series where we explore our writers beyond the ink-side that we’ve gotten to know. A series that delves deeper into the personal and everyday lives of our poets and writers.
Luiz, many readers and writers will recognize your published work on Spillwords.com as you’ve been a collaborator for quite a while already, having contributed literary works in both, English and Spanish.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and could you share what it is that you do outside of writing?
I’m 42 years old, a third generation immigrant from Sonora, Mexico and I took up permanent residence here in Southern California at age 12 with my Mom. I’m single… having been divorced for 3 years. I have two grown kids that live on their own and two pre-teens (Maddison and Mason, or M & M going forward) that live with Mom that I visit as often as I can. I started my family early… my first boy was born when I was 18 and then Raven at 21. In my second marriage I had M & M, two years apart, and right now they are… a center stage in my life.
I started working at 17 to support my new family and I left school to finish it later. During those years, I became very rebellious and unlike most troubled teens that start hanging around with the ‘bad people’, I was actually the one that made bad people look good. Honest. Transparent. 100%. Me. The short version of my story during that time is that I had very colorful and unconventional experiences… all consequences of my developing depression. I was an excellent student, top of my class actually, but only when I would show up. I would Ace my tests… whether I was hug over or not. I would go to the Chess club almost every day, as I was the president… walking or in a joy ride. This may sound comical or fictitious, but it’s neither. It’s me telling the truth. There’s more to my story, but I need to move on for now…
My Grandfather and his brother were both accomplished poets, with one of them having a prestigious yearly Poet award named in his honor (in Mexico). From what I understand, his work is part of high school curriculum in Mexico now.
Besides writing poetry and work, hobbies I enjoy include playing chess and socializing in different circles. I also see my M & M as much as I can.
I started writing poetry about a year ago to purge the dark feelings arising from a divorce and loss of my family lifestyle. I got so depressed over this separation, that I ended up homeless for several months, because I simply could not function. My first day on the streets was the first day I got published here at Spillwords with Four to Midnight actually. That poem is a true reflection of what I felt at the time. From the get-go, I saw how my words would resonate with readers and the comments I received were incredible. For lack of a better description, I had a spiritual awakening and I found out why I was put on this planet… my heart was flowing with the sorrows I would use as ink for my writes. My pain… validated. I had never felt so ‘right’ doing anything else.
Thru the years, I’ve held supervisory and middle management positions, but the last 3 years, I’ve been a cross-country Truck Driver. Since truck driving is more of a lifestyle than a job, I don’t have much leisure time for my hobbies.
What does a day in your life look like, and how do you find time to write?
My days are always different because of my unconventional job. When I work locally, my day starts …
Very late in the morning because I’ll usually work nights and won’t get home ‘til dawn. After I wake up …
I’ll start the coffee and go outside to smoke a cigarette while it brews, then I’ll come back to the kitchen and pour a cup. I’ll go thru my social media accounts and respond to readers, or finish writing projects. I may eat, or go out and run errands before work. Whenever I have free time, the first thing I do is open up an unfinished poem or story on my phone or laptop. My schedule may jump around, but 99% of the time I’ll be writing in the daylight hours and working (and still writing) at nights. Since there’s a-lot of waiting time involved working locally, I’ll go ahead and pick up a pen and start a write… whatever tickles my fancy at the moment for words. That is actually, how I wrote my featured article here Teenglish. I was waiting for a load as I started thinking about our growing dependence for our phones and computers. It’s ironic for me how my better writes come and just flow… Teenglish for example, I literally wrote in half hour, with a cracked screen, as I had lunch… all with the usual distractions of a busy shipping port.
Other writes that I’d only consider half as good take me sometimes days to finish.
When I am on the road and gone for weeks at a time, my schedule becomes more simple and so if I’m not driving or sleeping, you’ll probably find me in the sleeper of the truck trying to find rhyming words for “Driver” 🙂
How does your profession affect your writing and/or vice versa?
My profession affects my writing sometimes positively and at times negatively…
It’s positive when I have waiting time and don’t have someone looking over my shoulder. I can in between loads, work with my phone and see what develops.
It’s negative because being a truck driver is always long hours… whether it’s local or over the road… I pull about 11-14 hours a day. So, I don’t have much time to sit at a desk and write more comfortably.
What creative challenges do you face?
Education. As a new writer, I’m making mistakes that I shouldn’t … especially for my caliber. I know how to express myself, I can write short stories, fiction, poems, rhymes, prose… but I’ve never taken a poetry or creative writing class to learn different formats. Furthermore, I rely a-lot on spellcheck…and again, I feel like I should have been above that already. I wish I could take the time to concentrate all my efforts into writing but I can’t. I’m a real person… with real problems and financial needs.
What advice would you give others that are pursuing a career of life on the road?
It depends who I’d be telling. If you are young and looking for an adventure and good money… DO IT! If it wasn’t for the road, I would have missed the best years of my life with my Ex. We had the chance to explore all of the U.S. and experience different cultures and people. From being discriminated against in the South, to feeling very welcomed in Florida. From the hot desert in Arizona to the freezing cold in Maryland in winter. From the beauty of the Florida Keys, to the bad side of town in Tacoma Washington.
If you have a family… don’t! You may feel like you’re prepared to miss your family and sacrifice yourself for good money, but when you’re alone in the back of that sleeper and your kid’s face start flashing in your head, they come like artillery shells exploding in your head. It hurts. If you still ‘need’ to do it, then be prepared to miss them more than you had anticipated.
Of course… keeping your license clean is KEY! I can’t express it enough. If you get a ticket and are offered a chance to take driving school, do it! Don’t ever drive under the influence. Your license will be gone for a year If you get caught.
What advice would you give to other writers out there?
Write from the heart. Write honest and true to yourself. Give a little bit of yourself with every write. The first poem I wrote that got attention was a suicide note. The second was about a girlfriend leaving me for someone else. I think the poems were appreciated because they struck home with a-lot of people. I wrote these from the heart and true to me.
If you’re not so good, keep at it! Remember, writing is an art like painting. You get better with more portraits you paint. Same thing happens in writing. I’ve actually seen my writing improve just in one year I’ve been doing it. Read other people’s work! I don’t really have a chance to read other work myself, but I wrote what may be my best prose to date with the inspiration from 4 lines of a classic poet. I saw the style and the subject matter and it was something that I could not have come up with otherwise. I can only imagine the possibilities if I read more.
Also, NEVER judge the quality of your work based on the amount of ‘likes’ on social media. Many things could affect the amount of likes… the time and day of you posting, hashtags and more. Instead, join a group or site where you can get solid feedback on your writes and go from there. Also, don’t be insulted when someone is genuinely giving you advice and constructive criticism. Don’t get upset and listen to the writers with seniority. Lastly, don’t do this, even if you’re very good, with the expectations that you will make a lot of money. The number one reason you should write is because you enjoy it and you really don’t see yourself doing anything else. Writing is a passionate affair… it has nothing to do with money. It’s like trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood. Few people make it.
What adjective best describes you and why?
Rebel. My lifestyle has been as such that I didn’t even hesitate answering this question. To begin with, I was born left-handed and feet first…my mom had to get a C-section. I don’t know how much more against the stream I can go than being born like so! Ha! Also, I grew up with abandonment issues… one of the few things my father gave me. From there came depression in my early teens, which in turn lend itself to alcohol abuse, trouble with the law, drugs and everything else under the Sun considered for Rebels. I was actually the leader of my group at that… So, yeah, I was the kid your mom told you to stay away from. It didn’t help that school wasn’t a challenge and so I would skip it as much as possible. From there on, I just developed a way of thinking that goes against the norm. Despite, Rebel doesn’t mean caring, smart, generous, loving and many other good things I consider are words that describe me.
What’s a fun fact about you that would surprise many that know you?
I was the President of the chess club, the top of my class, an alcoholic, a drug user and a car thief. All simultaneously in High School.
What inspires you to write?
Life’s tribulations! I started writing a year ago because of my divorce and loss of family lifestyle. I found that thru writing I was able to express myself in a way that my pain was validated and I felt better. So, it turned out the only way I could cope with an already depressed mood was to write about my depression. Up until now, most of my writes are dark and talk about my experiences.
Also, my kids…OMG! My kids… I miss them so much that they are constantly on my mind and unfortunately a great source of inspiration.
What are three things on your bucket list?
1. Make more memories with a new love over the road. I would hate to think that the best years of my life have forever passed.
2. Like every other writer… to have authored my own book. At least one.
3. Build a non-profit organization to help caring and deserving fathers and mothers reunite with their children… an organization that would help them with financial, emotional and any other type of help with the ultimate aim of reuniting the absent parent with their children.
What do you want your legacy to be?
Referencing my #3 bucket list item, I want to build that organization that will help fathers reunite with their families. I already have an idea for a website, what type of services will be offered, referrals and everything else! I even have a mission statement prepared:
To assist deserving, absent parents have a decent life with their children thru legal, financial, emotional, counseling, housing, parenting, substance abuse and other services. This will be accomplished with the ultimate goal of benefiting the children by giving them a balanced life with both parents.
The separation from my kids has affected me so profoundly that I want to be the change for other children not to suffer emotionally because of an absent parent.
I immigrated to the states from Mexico at age 12 and I quickly fell in love with poetry after my grandfather read some of his poems to me. However, at 18, I had a young family and that left very little time for this endevour as I started working to support us. I returned to adult school to finish my diploma. At that time I developed a severe depression that I still struggle with to this day, but I found it to be a great source of inspiration as well. Today I live in Los Angeles and I'm divorced. I have two children I see whenever possible and two adult kids. Both my Grandfather and his brother are award winning poets and journalists, with one, (Bartolome Delgado DeLeon) having a street, library and a prestigious national poet award in his honor.
Most of my pieces come from personal experience and true to me. Sometimes my material is raw, other times murdeous, and yet other times romantic, but always me, 100% authentic guaranteed.