Remembering Your Original Intention of Writing and Overcoming Challenges
by Bojun Yang
Writing is an art. Writing can resonate powerfully with people who have the same feelings as writers. In the large community of Canadian writers, the number of multilingual and transnational writers has been on the rise. However, they face many challenges due to having a different language and culture. The Writers’ Guild of Alberta provides a good platform to connect multicultural writers from all across the province. The writers in this community have extra opportunities to express their emotions, thoughts, cultures, experiences, and ideas.
Luciana Erregue-Sacchi is a Canadian-Argentinian bilingual writer. I chose to interview her because I am curious about bilingual writers’ experiences and challenges. She is a poet who has lived a life full of rich experiences, and I had the benefit of hearing her stories through this interview.
B Y: What was your original intention for writing?
I wrote my first poem at age seven. One day I saw my mother really sad because my grandmother was terminally ill. She liked the poem so much that she sent it to the local paper and they published it right away. I stopped writing poetry for about thirty-five years, until one painting by Giovanni Battista Piranesi at the Art Gallery of Alberta brought back memories of growing up during the Argentinian dictatorship (1976-1983). Given those two instances, I can conclude that my original intention behind writing was to work through painful experiences in my life.
B Y: What motivates you to keep writing?
What keeps me writing is the need to communicate, to share, and for others to share with me what it is they see in the world and how they see it. I am interested in people as active audiences, not passive consumers of images. I want to engage people so that we can all meet at the intersection between words, images, and life experiences. My blog SpectatorCurator is my bridge to conversing in images with the larger public. Here is the link: https://spectatorcurator.wordpress.com
B Y: Out of all your past writing experiences, what challenged you the most?
My biggest challenges so far are two: One, as a relatively new writer, where do I position myself in a larger community of writers? Am I a “Page Poet” or a “Spoken Word Poet”? And as a visible minority female writer, where do I insert myself into the larger conversation about race and gender relations, not just in Edmonton, but in all of Canada, and how do I interact with my local and national poetry/writing/literary scene? I want these questions to be perceived as a natural process in my development as a writer, ultimately leading to the recognition by the more experienced Canadian literary figures that multilingual, bilingual, and transnational writers are an increasing demographic, and are here to stay at the table of Canadian Literature.
The second challenge is how to deal with rejection upon submitting my work. I write in English, sometimes incorporating Spanish words and very specific cultural references from my home country, Argentina, which can be alienating to a traditional English-speaking reader. It is something I am learning fast, and getting over even faster. I have been published in literary magazines, but I would very much like to publish my first book, although it is a project that will take me much longer than a few months.
B Y: What is your biggest gain since you joined the Writers’ Guild of Alberta?
The sense of a built-in community of talented peers; sharing in each other’s accomplishments; having mentors like Program Coordinator Julie Robinson, former Edmonton Poets Laureate Anna Marie Sewell and Pierrette Requier; and being able to project my work onto a larger audience, beyond the confines of my desk and the screen.
After knowing Luciana’s experiences, I think she is a very emotional writer. In my opinion, the Writers’ Guild of Alberta promotes cultural and literary diversity. This community encourages writers from all over the world to express themselves. As an international student, I understand how hard it is to express myself in English, since English is not my first language. Sometimes I cannot express myself clearly. It does not mean that I do not understand: I simply need more time and energy to make native English-speaking readers understand what I want to communicate in my writing. The process of writing is hard, but the results are beautiful. Writers from all over the world help open up these people’s new sights through this community. For multilingual and bilingual writers, they face more challenges, and they need more courage to embrace challenges from both language and culture. I want to encourage the writers in this community whose first language is not English. When writing gets hard and when you want to give up, please always remember your original intent for writing and continue doing it. My interview with Luciana Erregue-Sacchi inspires me to remember that nothing in the world is difficult for me if I set my mind to it.