Thor Albarado is entering his final year at Central Washington University, majoring in Creative and Professional writing. He resides in the Pacific Northwest and is enthusiastically looking forward to starting his rejection letter collection.
Q: How long have you been writing and what got you started?
A: Creative writing is a craft that is relatively new to me, beginning during my third attempt at becoming a college graduate. At 30, I needed to change my pattern of choosing a “practical” field, being uninspired and then dropping out. Writing stuck out to me as I had always envied artists and I’m a chronic daydreamer. It then became a matter of learning how to transfer ideas from my head to paper.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
A: Be okay with a horrible first draft. Forget that you’re supposed to be a great writer and just let subpar word selections and half brained ideas flow out. The outcome may produce something of embarrassingly poor quality, but you’re the only one reading an early draft. The rest of the drafting process is meant to shape your piece into something you can be proud of.
Q: How do you measure success when it comes to your writing?
A: Earlier in my writing development, I would’ve said that success was equivalent to receiving a high grade from my instructors. My mentality changed when I realized that most of my “A” pieces were ones I wasn’t necessarily proud of. Perhaps the prompts were too safe; I rarely felt like I broke my comfort zone during them. For me, successful writing stems from challenging myself, enduring the drafting process, and producing a finished product that I would be satisfied to put my name on.
Q: Do you ever get criticism from family or friends who don’t understand your passion?
A: I’m fortunate to be surrounded by supportive people in my life. There does appear to be a concern about what I’m going to do with a creative writing degree. To be truthful, I don’t really know either… and I’m a hundred percent okay with that.
Q: Are you an outliner or discovery writer? Or somewhere in between?
A: Up until a recent screenwriting class, I would’ve chosen the latter. This made for a complicated process with fiction writing as I would feel overwhelmed with plot development. Utilizing outlines for fiction gives me a path to follow with room for discovering new ideas as I progress.
Q: How do you deal with rejections?
A: A professor of mine, Dr. VandeZande, compared the submission/rejection process to baseball, where a player succeeds if he or she reaches base thirty percent of the time. My success rate isn’t that high, but the view has helped me not take rejections personal.
Q: Were you taught anything about creative writing in high school or college that just didn’t work for you?
A: The whole “write what you know” mentality is a slippery slope. It can make for a solid starting point, but adhering to it has made it difficult to delve into different genres, break away from first person perspective, and properly characterize individuals of the opposite sex/differing ethnicities.
Q: Do you participate in any online or in-person critique or writing groups?
A: Sort of. My university classes are all online, where students group together and critique each other’s work. Reddit (r/writing) has also provided a plethora of advice and tools, along with making me feel like part of community.
Q: What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
A: The primary goal is to graduate with my bachelor’s. At 34 years old, graduating is more of finishing unfinished business than a requirement for success. I would like to take course assignments more seriously, with an endgame of having more of my work being published in literary journals such as Theme of Absence.
Q: What book are you reading right now?
A: I’m rereading The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. It’s a pleasant read that provides me with inspiration, as the novel did quite well despite it being Niffenegger’s first publicized work.