Author Q & A with Emile Estrada

Emile Estrada’s story, Waiting for Things to Die, won over our fiction editors and brilliantly calls to mind life’s biggest questions through the experiences of a young boy. In this Q & A, Emile shares some very relatable aspects of his writerly life and also advice we think many aspiring artists would benefit from…

Author Q & A with Emile Estrada

June 3, 2022

This week’s Author Q&A is with Emile Estrada. Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Emile immigrated to the U.S. due to the deteriorating political landscape of his native country. He studied philosophy at San Jose State University and currently resides in the state of Arizona. His story “Waiting for Things to Die,” is available in our Spring 2022 issue.  

We asked Emile to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of his story. His response was as follows: 

“Even though much of what happens in the story is fictional, “Waiting for Things to Die” is based on reality to a certain extent. The story is in a way a tribute to my grandfather who in his last few years lived alone in a decrepit cabin in the Venezuelan countryside, the last survivor of his generation all but forgotten by most.”

Following through on that, we asked him to share something he learned about himself, writing craft, or life in general through working on the piece.

His response: “‘Waiting for Things to Die’ is a rewrite of a story I wrote nearly ten years ago when I was a freshman in college. I had tried time and time again to finish it but ended up shelving it in frustration. Finding it and going back to it made me realize that I need time in my writing, to put a story out of my mind for a while, and come back to it with fresh eyes and rested hands.”

We think this is true for many writers. Sometimes when a draft (or experience) is still fresh, you can’t see beyond it to understand what the piece really needs in order to be the best version of itself. This also ties in nicely with his answer to what part of the artistic process is the most satisfying. 

His response: “Definitely revising. I truly believe that a story is actually written during revision. My first drafts are word vomit. I have an idea of where I want a story to go, but that’s about it. I don’t plan my writing. I find the idea and it is a stream of consciousness until it’s finished. Whatever comes to my mind goes on the page. But revising I take far more seriously, and usually, my final drafts, if there ever is such a thing as a final draft, are much different from the original product.”

Again, we think a lot of writers can relate to this and probably also to his sentiment about what fuels his desire to write which, as he points out, is less about desire and more about compulsion and necessity. 

“I don’t see writing as something I desire to do. It’s not even something I particularly enjoy doing. I’ve written in the past but never seriously, not with intention of being published anyways. But in the past couple of years, writing has become something of a compulsion, something that I can’t help, and giving into this drive to write has done wonders for my mental health. Now it’s just part of my daily routine, like going to the gym or brushing my teeth.”

We also asked Emile if he could give his younger self some advice, what would that be. 

His response: “Start earlier. Start when you’re young. Writing requires time and practice. Any craft takes hours and hours of preparation. Athletes spend hours and hours every week practicing and lifting weights and doing conditioning just to perform for a few minutes once a week. Writing is no different.”

Such good advice!! And our final question, as always, was what he thinks of when he hears the phrase “The Good Life.”

His response: “I think of contradictions and impossibilities. I see a process without certainty. I see a need for steady ground and solidity in the face of the trembling phenomenal and the fluid noumenal. But if anything is Good it is living life like it’s a work of art and you’re the craftsman.”

Thanks, Emile, for taking the time to consider our questions and for allowing us to publish your wonderful story.

~The Good Life Review Team