I came to the United States from the Dominican Republic at age four in 1995. Maybe because I felt I was different than my classmates I gravitated toward journaling—a personal, solitary act—after learning what it was in school.
From there, the idea of being a novelist was natural. Like so many writers, I wanted to emulate what I found so fantastic. I enjoyed the weight of a book, the feel of paper; plus, I had been told I had to be something when I grew up. The stories I loved the most—such as Catch-22 and The Extra Man—were coyly funny, the type where if you weren’t tuned in, you might miss the joke.
Though I wrote fiction here and there, by middle school, high school, and beyond, I found more gratification in things like drinking and what often followed, sex. Poetry—which is, in a way, more personal than fiction—became my companion and salvation: With drinking came easy connection and conversation, but also decisions that hurt other people’s feelings and then mine.
Aside from self-inflicted heartbreak, my troubles included the legal and cultural repercussions of being an immigrant, and parents who loved me but couldn’t stop fighting with each other. Actually, I was so sensitive, all the world’s suffering weighed down on me personally.
Despite being as ill-adjusted as anyone, I learned about writing, even if I wasn’t doing it as much as I wanted to myself, and launched my own editing business in 2010 at age 19, gauging my success from the positive feedback of clients.
At my own good pace, by 25, I began trading the guilt of not writing for the habit of it.
Like everyone else, I have contradicting desires, and my life could have gone down different paths. I live out those alternatives through characters, attempting to braze them with an undercurrent of the humor that comes from misfortunate human honesty—in other words, from discovery, desire, and failure, and then, of course, redemption.