When All That Writing Ambition Shit Gets Real

Daniel Romo is one of those types of artists I revere: a poet—you know, those writers who can tell a whole story in a few abbreviated lines and make is sound romantic, and sexy, and intelligent. He's the author of Romancing Gravity (Pecan Grove Press, 2013) and When Kerosene's Involved (Black Coffee Press, 2013). His poetry and photography can be found in The Los Angeles Review, Gargoyle, MiPOesias, Yemassee, Word Riot, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte and teaches high school creative writing. He lives in Long Beach, CA. More of his writing can be found at his Website.

Join me in welcoming Daniel and congratulating him—here's his timely announcement: The inevitable is happening, and it doesn’t feel real. Maybe because I never set out to “write a book.” Like getting published and grad school, it simply became part of my progression as a writer. But as the day approaches and I’ll soon have a book in my hands that features all of my writing and not pages shared with others, shit’s gettin’ realer. And with that reality comes a deeper sense of accomplishment. The gratifying feeling I have knowing that I wrote a book, a book that I’m immensely proud of, becomes stronger by the second. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a certain amount of pressure. Of course I want people to like my book. Those prose poems are genuinely me, in many ways. But that’s pressure I’ve put upon myself. I’m the one soliciting reviewers, having to live with what they say about my poems. The one trying to book readings. The one trying to “sell” the book without coming across as abrasive, which is the toughest part for me. This pressure comes with the territory, though; a reality I knew I’d have to face. It’s the big test of being an artist. But it’s also easier to deal with when you have a community that supports what you do.

I consider myself lucky to be a part of various communities. The local literary community has given me words of encouragement for the last few years. It has inspired me through readings I’ve attended and with the camaraderie we share. I’m also fortunate to have made a number of valued connections through publishing. I often look up and end up befriending writers whose work I admire. Reading the work of others has been the biggest inspiration to me. There’s nothing better than being friends with someone whose words you love. And my grad school friends have also helped me in many ways, including workshopping many of the poems that appear in the book. Having been a part of two MFA programs, I’ve formed bonds that I hope to maintain.

For me, writing the book was the easy part. I didn’t write with the goal of creating something as a whole. There was no pressure in that regard. I was simply writing individual poems, and then sending them out into the fickle world of publication. I’m a quiet person by nature; I’m not good with hype. And though I’m confident in my words, the book ain’t gonna’ sell itself. So I do what small press writers do after they write a book. Put my agent hardhat on and go to work. In the end, I want to maintain my sense of integrity, hope to sell a book or two, and be respected for what I do and how I’m handling it.

I don't know about you, but I wanna know some stuff about Daniel—you know, like: Are you single? Oh, and about poetry—you know, like: How do you do it? I'm sure you want to ask Daniel a few questions, so go ahead, he's on standby to entertain you…maybe read you a poem or two. You can also find him on Facebook.