Ep. 224 Writing with Duende with Erika L. Sánchez – Transcript

Poet and author Erika L. Sánchez joins The Stacks to discuss Crying in the Bathroom, her new memoir about growing up in the 90s as a misfit daughter of Mexican immigrants. We talk about religion and mental health, being loud and funny, and finally feeling ready to write about difficult topics.

The Stacks Book Club selection for July is Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih. We will discuss the book on July 27th with Elamin Abdelmahmoud.


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Traci Thomas 0:00
Welcome to The Stacks, a podcast about books and the people who read them. I’m your host Traci Thomas and this episode we are joined by poet and novelist Erika L. Sanchez to discuss her brand new book, a memoir in essays called crying in the bathroom. This book has been called everything from raunchy, hilarious and unapologetic to insightful poignant and brutally honest, it deals with topics including sex, depression and religion and I talk today with Erica about her upbringing as a Mexican American misfit her award winning career, reproductive justice and a lot more. Our book club pick for July a season of migration to the north by Tayeb Salih and we will be discussing this book on July 27th, quick reminder, everything we talked about on each episode of the stacks can be found in the link in the shownotes. Listen, if you love this show, and you want more of it, head to patreon.com/the stacks and join the snacks pack. It’s a community for book lovers and lovers of the stacks. We’ve got bonus episodes super duper active discord community, our monthly book club meetups and more. It’s also a great way for you to show your support for the work we do on this independent podcast every single week, head to patreon.com/the stacks to join. And while we’re here, let’s do a quick thank you to our newest members. Amy nicolaysen, Kleiner, Dakota caller. Jada Thompson is IKEA guia Cabo and Emily, Laos, Ma. Thank you all so much. And thank you to the entire stacks pack for your support. And now it’s time for my conversation with Erika L. Sanchez.

Alright, everybody, I’m very excited. Today I am joined by Erika L. Sanchez, who is the author of crying in the bathroom. Erika, welcome to the Stacks.

Erika L. Sanchez 3:44
Thank you so much.

Traci Thomas 3:46
I’m really excited to have you and talk about this memoir and essays. But before we dive in, I always ask people to start here in about 30 seconds or so can you tell the folks about the book?

Erika L. Sanchez 3:57
Sure, crying in the bathroom is a memoir that spends a great deal of time in subject matter. And it is written in essay form. I cover a lot of, you know, ideas and concepts of gender identity. I feel like this memoir really encompasses a lot of what young brown women go through when navigating a very white world, a very misogynist world. And so yeah, it’s been quite a journey to get to this point.

Traci Thomas 4:34
Yeah, I think what I appreciated about the book so much is there were so many things that I could relate to and then so many things were I was like, Wow, I’ve never thought about that in that way. Like it was like I needed an author to explain my life to me. Beautiful. Yeah, I love it. I want to talk about humor. One of the early essays in your book you first of all, you talk about your laugh and so I’m really curious because your book is not published yet, but it will be very soon and people are listening it will be out in the world. Have you prepared yourself heard people trying to make you laugh so that they can hear your laugh? Because that’s all I could think about when I was reading that section. No. I was like, Oh my gosh, she’s gonna have to laugh because like she talks about her laugh and describes it and like I need. Did you laugh in the audiobook? When you were reading it?

Erika L. Sanchez 5:21
I may have, like chuckled or something. But I didn’t really laugh laugh. You didn’t? The thing about me is if if it’s not funny, I’m not gonna laugh like that. Right? So it’s just, it can’t happen on command. So I hope no one’s feelings get hurt. Because, yeah, I’ve never even considered such a thing. But now that you say it, oh, my,

Traci Thomas 5:42
yeah, get ready. It’s coming. Everyone’s gonna be like telling you knock knock jokes, like, Okay, let’s see if we can make this happen. So okay, but you talk about humor in the book, which I really appreciate it your family, you’re Mexican, I’m black, I feel like there is something about being in a community of the global majority or whatever, where we talk shit and make make fun of people, you know, black folks called play in the dozens or whatever. I’m wondering, like, when did you realize that everybody else? White people didn’t do that? Like when at what point in your life? Are you like, oh, other people don’t talk shit and make fun of how their cousins look? And like, you know, like, how do you like, when did that click for you?

Erika L. Sanchez 6:26
It’s a rude awakening when that happens. Because it was something that I was so accustomed to. And then all of a sudden, I go out into the working world. And that’s when I realized that white people were laughing like, they weren’t talking shit like that, you know, I felt very alienated in many spaces, because I didn’t think that I could express myself and be who I truly was. And so it’s a sad moment. And when you realize that they’re not, they’re not with you. They’re not really there to be your friend. And so not to say that all white people listen that but you know, white supremacy, I find it to be quite humorless. I don’t really understand it, I think it’s gross. A lot of people subscribe to this, even if they don’t know, consciously. And so that’s just a world that I also am very confused by. And actually, I should mention, I was married to a white person. And that was very jarring to step into this family and to see, like the polite conversation, and just like the quiet evenings in the very subdued dinners, what is this? I don’t understand,

Traci Thomas 7:53
how do you adjust? How did you? Or how do you adjust in those spaces? Like, how? How does it? How does it make you respond? Like how do you change or try to, like, make yourself feel comfortable or safe in those spaces.

Erika L. Sanchez 8:10
You know, sometimes I feel that I can’t be myself because I won’t be accepted. So I kind of shut down. And I distanced myself from the group. Because I don’t feel like I’m going to be accepted. And, and so I do that, or if I’m feeling extra spicy, I will crack jokes that are just really uncomfortable for people because I don’t believe in in making myself small for people at the same time, you know, and so it’s just like, it’s really how much I want to expose of myself, and how much I want to give. And there are times where I just, I really want to go there. And I really want to talk about race when no one else wants to. And there are times where I’m just like, exhausted, and I just want to eat my meal. Yeah,

Traci Thomas 9:01
yeah, I can relate fully. This is all very, again, things that I related to in the book. The other thing about humor that I really loved, and I don’t I last night, I spent a lot of time like trying to think about how to ask this question, but I realized it’s not a question. So I sort of just want you to talk about this. But sure, you talk about like, sort of being vulgar and crass, which is like, you know, speaks to my soul, talk about humor. And you know, you also in a later so you talk a lot about like beauty standards and race. And to me, I just kept thinking that like all of these things are really connected like this idea of femininity or being a woman and what’s beautiful and what’s allowed and what’s too vulgar and what’s not. And I’m wondering, like, I guess sort of how you grappled with those things. Being a Mexican American being someone who is vulgar being someone who has a loud lap, someone who wears bright colors, someone who takes up space in this world. And then I guess also not just how you deal But how you decided to like, funnel that into the book? Because that’s like a whole different. Like you have to live it and then you have to write it. Yeah,

Erika L. Sanchez 10:10
I mean, I never intended to write a memoir, honestly, like, it didn’t come until, you know, when I started writing it, which was almost seven years ago. Now. I didn’t imagine that I was that interesting, to be quite honest. But as I started writing essay, by essay, I started to realize that I had a lot to say about a lot of different things. And I saw it as a book of essays. And then it was then like, rebranded as a memoir, which is fine. I see it as a memoir now, as well, it has a narrative arc. But yeah, to be a person with like that kind of, I guess, spirit, personality, whatever. It’s not easy, because not everyone likes it, not everyone appreciates it. People don’t like that I really honest, oftentimes, or that I talk about racism, and misogyny and homophobia openly that I talk about abortion very casually, you know, I feel that I became this person, because I was tired of being told who I was supposed to be. And I always fought against the labels the boundaries set for me, I didn’t want to be like a meek Mexican girl who just like stayed at home and you know, doted on her family. Like that wasn’t going to be me. And it was pretty upsetting to, you know, my mom, my dad, that I was so rebellious and so adventurous. They never imagined such a thing. And so I wrote this book, and I channeled all of that into this book, because I wanted young women to feel free to be themselves. Even if it makes people feel weird, it makes your Thea uncomfortable, or your dad doesn’t agree with your career choice, you know, like I have students, female students, women, students who are so bright and so ambitious, and then they’re like, Well, my dad won’t let me major in such and such. And, like, you don’t have to listen to your dad. You know, like, I don’t know if I’m gonna get in trouble when they for that, but um, I just, I want young women to take up the same kind of space to be who they are, to call out the truth and call out in justices. Because, I mean, it’s really scary right now. Yeah. You know, like, we have to just, you know, have a resilient spirit. And, and we have to be willing to take risks if we want things to change.

Traci Thomas 13:00
Yeah. I mean, speaking of things being really scary, we’re recording this the first week of July, I guess you mentioned your book you started writing seven years ago. I wonder if you had any idea that the world that your book would be coming out into would be this world war, this book feels like very on the nose. I mean, I read the book two weeks ago, and we’re going to try to prevent any spoilers, but one of the jobs you had was working in PR for a reproductive rights organization. And, you know, you talk candidly in the book about abortion and about parenthood, you’re a parent now. And I’m just wondering, like, how, how, how do you feel about this book that like talks about these things coming out in a time where like, these rights are being taken away? And and like, I think, you know, the conversation around this book, I feel will center on those things more than maybe it would have if it came out last summer. So I’m just wondering, like, how you as the author reckon with that stuff?

Erika L. Sanchez 14:02
Yeah. I mean, I do not want it to be relevant at all I was of the past, and we were living in some sort of utopia. But that is not the case. And the timing of it is a bit startling. I, I just did not envision this at all. I mean, we live through Trump, and that was traumatizing enough. And then now all of these other things have happened. And I’m just really scared. And I feel like perhaps this book could get people to have certain conversations. So to perhaps encourage women to speak up about their own experiences, to show the world how, you know, reproductive rights are human rights, and it’s a life and death situation for many, many people. And so, yeah, it’s a it’s scary. I don’t like it. one bit, I feel like I’m going to be on quite a roller coaster for the next few months. Yeah, talking about these issues. And, you know, I’m trying to take care of myself as I do it. So I don’t, you know, unravel, which is very possible for me.

Traci Thomas 15:18
Right. I mean, that’s the other thing that you talk about a lot in the book is mental health, you are very candid about your struggles and the things that you’ve gone through and the ways that you, you know, you find peace and a lot about Buddhism and meditation and these types of things. There’s two questions here. I’ll start with the first one. Which is, how did you know when you were ready to actually write about these things publicly versus having, like, dealt with them privately? I’ve spoken to many memoirists, and there’s always like this moment of like, okay, now I’m ready to actually put this out publicly, which is very different from now I have moved past this moment in my life personally, with my loved ones.

Erika L. Sanchez 16:01
Yeah, it was intense, you know, to write about that sort of trauma, the trauma of, of depression, and having to survive, like the ups and downs of it all. I felt very emotional as I was writing. And I think in writing that I purged something from me, and then it’s, it’s required distance, you know, I couldn’t write about the thing that was happening at that time, I had to wait because it’s impossible to be objective. Not that it’s no, it’s it is impossible to be objective, regardless. But it’s even more so difficult to to write with clarity, when you’re like in the muck, right. And so, I always wrote when I was ready to write it. And so like the essay on Buddhism, I wrote several, several years ago, and that just came to me. And then, you know, I wrote about, like, a few bouts of very severe depression. And so I needed time to heal from that in order to be able to write about it, because it felt so raw for so long. And in writing it, I healed something. And in publishing, I feel like I’m healing something as well, because I’m not the only one who’s experienced these types of things. And so I want people to feel seen by it, and to feel like, they’re not the only ones who have experienced such a thing. And so, I think, you know, talking to people about the book, meeting readers, it’s going to be part of my healing process. Because I, that means a lot to me, you know, the fact that I could, you know, I took something that was so personal and painful, and I turned it into something very public. But that was for a greater good, you know, it wasn’t for attention, or whatever. It was, like, I want to make art with this. And I want people to respond to it.

Traci Thomas 18:10
Do you? You said, you know, you’re, you’re preparing for this the next few months? And like having a talk about all this stuff? What are some of if you don’t mind sharing, this might be too personal. But what are some of the ways that you’re kind of planning to protect yourself? Take care of yourself?

Erika L. Sanchez 18:25
Yeah, I can talk about that. I feel so safe in my house. You know, I love where I live. My husband is like my best friend. I know, everyone says that. But that’s the truth. And we talk. Every night, we have like these really good discussions, and we spend a lot of time with the kids and we, you know, cook and just make it a really pleasurable environment to be in. And I think that that’s really what grounds me, that’s really what matters to me. I like to disconnect from the internet, when I’m with my daughter or with my husband or reading whatever I don’t, I don’t like have my phone near me. I feel like I need times in which I just have to live in this world. Because it’s very easy to get caught up in the world of the internet. And I just don’t want to be there. Yeah, I want to participate. But I don’t want to live there.

Traci Thomas 19:31
Right. Right. Right. I wonder were there things your first book is a novel? Were there things that you learned from that book tour and like the you I mean, your book was a major success. It was you know, National Book Award finalist and all this stuff. So I’m wondering, like, Were there things that you’re like next time? I’m going to do it this way? And if so, would you share any of those things?

Erika L. Sanchez 19:55
Yeah, I can’t say yes to everything. Okay. Love this. Love this. boundary. Yeah, I am done with that. I was very scrappy. I hustled for a long time. I don’t have to do that anymore. I could be selective about who I say yes to people get their feelings hurt. But you know, too bad. I don’t really care.

Traci Thomas 20:14
Thanks for saying yes to me. Appreciate it.

Erika L. Sanchez 20:18
And I say yes to things that I want to do. But you know, there’s so many requests that I’m like, I can’t, I can’t respond to so. And so just, you know, choosing things that that bring value to my life, and not just like, go to any small town in the United States and small towns in the United States now scare me. I mean, they scared me in the past, but now more so. And so I’m not gonna go Utah anymore. Sorry, Utah.

Traci Thomas 20:49
So are you? Do you better than Erica come back? To her an apology? I don’t know what you did. But you know, you know, better.

Erika L. Sanchez 20:56
And so, yeah, I just really know what my limits are when I need to go to sleep when I need to eat when I need to, you know, step back from a party or gathering because it’s just too much stimulation for me. I’m very aware of my limits, and I respect them. And I don’t, I don’t, you know, go out of my way just to please other people, when it doesn’t feel good. You know, yes, I think women are supposed to, we were indoctrinated right to think that we’re supposed to always be available, and be helpful, and be loving, and be supportive. You know, it’s like, yeah, sometimes I just want to stare out my window for like, an hour, you know, I don’t, I can’t be everything all the time. It’s just possible,

Traci Thomas 21:56
not possible at all. Okay, I want to talk about that essay on Buddhism, and mental health because you connected in so you connect religion, and sort of your past with religion, and mental health. And I’m wondering how you thought to draw lines between those two things and how they feel maybe links are at odds in your mind?

Erika L. Sanchez 22:17
Oh, boy, him. I think originally, Catholicism was very bad for my psyche. Yeah. It was terrible for me, as a girl growing up, you know, I felt like I was dirty. I felt like I, you know, had unclean thoughts. And that I was bad because I kissed a boy or I thought about it, or, you know, I wore something short, or, you know, I flirted with someone, you know, I had all of this shame, because I was supposed to be pious and pure. And it wasn’t like the way that the my parents ever imagined. You know, like, I decided very early on that Catholicism was hurtful to me and to women. And that was very upsetting, because I was rejecting this tradition that they had given me. And so that was a point of contention for us for a long time. Not so much anymore. But I realized that it was bad for my mental health to believe these things about women and myself. And so when I found Buddhism, I realized that religion didn’t have to oppress me, that he could uplift me that it can make me more whole, that it could make me more at peace with myself in the world. And it, I was able to make sense of, you know, a lot of suffering, you know, I didn’t really have a reason for it before, it was just like, Well, God wanted it that way. That, to me isn’t a very good explanation. And so in Buddhism, we think about karma and cause and effect and how, you know, there is no God puppeteer in the sky, like trying to control our thoughts in our movements. That’s just not true. There’s there’s autonomy, there’s agency, there’s, you know, self reliance and so many different beautiful aspects of, of Buddhism that made me feel like maybe I could endure this horrible world because sometimes it has been so intense, like, why am I alive? What is the point of this? Especially as a young girl, I was like, I don’t have choices. So what’s the point? You know? Yeah.

Traci Thomas 24:48
Okay, this is like such a tiny thing that you mentioned. It’s not tiny, but you do mention it in the book. Do end day. Okay, I’m going to tell a quick story, and I’m gonna ask you to explain it. But when I went to college, I went to NYU. And we had to take a class freshman year called writing the essay, the art in the world. And then the second semester was writing the essay the world and art or something like that. And my teacher, this like, white lady, I don’t remember her name. She was born, she was horrible. She was so annoying. But she was obsessed with Dwayne day. And our entire semester. Everything was framed through Wednesday. And I think of the world word all the time. But the fucked up part is that I do not remember. I did not remember what it meant until I read your book. She used to just be like, when days like this, and she would like draw like a figure eight or like, do this like weird like arm thing? I don’t know. I don’t think she explained it well. But I when I saw it in your book, I was like, oh my god, someone’s talking about DNA like, oh, arm gestures wildly. So will you just tell people what do it is and kind of explain it because it is sort of a through line throughout your book, even though you don’t always mention it. You are working through things in the awesome hand gesture way.

Erika L. Sanchez 26:12
Yeah, Bwindi is a really beautiful concept. And it comes from Federico Garcia Lorca, the Spanish poet who was murdered during the Spanish Civil War. He wrote about the when there’s been a sort of proximity to death, this awareness of death makes us more alive. And so when you see flamenco dancers, there is a darkness there. They’re like stomping out some sort of malaise that they’re experiencing, it seems. And and the dwindle there is so powerful, it’s palpable, because of the beauty of the dance. And same thing with writing, it’s writing who that has a really deep soul writing that has a spirit, that is not afraid of itself. It’s really difficult to explain, you know, but it’s something that when I read about it, it made complete sense to me, I’m like, oh, yeah, that that’s what I feel all the time, like, my, my writing has to have dwindled, or else, it’s no good, in my opinion, it needs to take that sort of leap and risk and be, you know, in the abyss, a little bit for it to, I think, be interesting to do something different. And so, I think about it a lot. And I think about negative capability, which is from John Keats. And, you know, he wrote that, in order to write poetry, you have to suspend your rational mind, you have to come to terms with the fact that it might not make logical sense and that things are mysterious. And, you know, poetry is full of mystery, but also a sort of exuberance, because you don’t write poetry, if you’re not paying close attention, you know, and so, it’s all connected to me, you know?

Traci Thomas 28:27
Yeah. I love that. Thank you. I know that’s like not a huge part of your book, but it really stuck out to me, thanks to my overpriced education. We’re gonna say that she was so wack, she was just I mean, I hated the class. I people know this. I actually hate writing. I’m not a writer. Like I despise that process of writing. It just it is like torture for me. So I think having to spend a whole year like learning how to write the essay, or like write an essay was just generally unenjoyable, like both. But she was just like, you know, she was probably like an overworked adjunct professor, like, it’s probably not her fault. She probably fucking hated her life too. But she did not bring a lot of the joyful part of the day. She didn’t make me feel more alive. It was a lot closer to the death part. I want to talk about the cover and the title. Were you involved with the cover at all? I know some authors are some authors aren’t. But I’m just curious if you had anything to do with this vibrant, bright, colorful paint strokes? Maybe? I don’t know, computer paint strokes?

Erika L. Sanchez 32:57
I don’t know. But it’s beautiful. You know, I look at it all the time. Like how do they do this? Yeah, it’s really lovely. And I have to thank my graphic designer for that. The book designer, because I never would have thought to pick this. You know, it. It made perfect sense. Once I really thought about it. It it felt really right, because I didn’t really want an image because the book already was saying so much. Yeah. You know, and crying in the bathroom is a title that I’ve had since the beginning of this book. Oh, really? Yeah. Yeah. I came up with that seven years ago. And I was like, this will not change.

Traci Thomas 33:47
I wasn’t anyone tried to change it? No, no, but I

Erika L. Sanchez 33:51
was ready to fight if I had to. Because I felt like it encapsulates so much of what I’m talking about. And so that’s how it came to be. And you know, there was a concern about it being similar to crane and each Mart which I understand, I felt that it was still different enough. And also I had this for so long that I was not willing to part. So,

Traci Thomas 34:20
so funny that didn’t even cross my mind. And I’ve read that book until you’re saying there were no I didn’t. I feel like crying in the bathroom is like such a relatable experience for probably a lot of people. And so to me, that feels like a very contained idea. Whereas crying an H Mart feels like a very specific to that story. Do you really mean like, I’ve never cried in an H Mart? Like that feels like a thing, but I’m like crying in the bathroom. Like we’ve been there. Yeah, you’re crying. You gotta go to the bathroom to let your boss see you. Or like, you’re on a date and it’s horrible. And you gotta get like there’s just so many reasons you could be crying in the bathroom. room, but crying an HR to me and just like I didn’t until you’re saying that I’m literally like, Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t think so I don’t think that they’re linked that much at all except for crying in. I was not concerned about it. Yeah, I don’t I don’t think you need to be of course no, I’m gonna get a million DMS of people like how could you not think of that it was straight there? Oh god. Nobody told me that I’m an idiot today stops.

Erika L. Sanchez 35:23
Yeah, you don’t tell me to have an opinion on dumb shit all the time. Oh, Tony.

Traci Thomas 35:29
Tony no but also my dams are a great place to get information when I’m like I say the wrong thing and then I find out about it instantly because everyone likes let me know oh no, it wasn’t Erica was Samantha like, oh, boy, okay. What’s not in this book that you wish could be in this book? You know,

Erika L. Sanchez 35:50
I think about that sometimes, because I have some really good stories. Everyone’s like, oh, you wrote your whole life. I’m like, I did not write my whole life more. It’s the time that I spent in Mexico when I was studying abroad. That’s that’s kind of what I wish I would have written about because it was a really funny slash sad experience for me. I was going through a breakup and I was just a mess. I was just drinking and drinking, and not eating. And I felt very lonely. And, you know, I, I feel that there’s a lot to say about that time. And then also, I went to my first strip club there. And that was a Boston. Yeah. And that place was fascinating. So I feel like that will emerge at some points, I really want to write that story. Because it’s, it’s a story that I think I would have fun working on.

Traci Thomas 36:51
Yeah, yeah, I really liked the ways that you talked about your own life and comparison to the lives of your mother and your grandmother and the women that came before you and your family. And the ways that like, rethink about what a choice actually is, and what a choice isn’t? I don’t know, I just found that to be really. Again, though, that was one of the things that I was like, I’ve never thought about this, in this way, kind of thing. So I really liked that. How did you know you were done with the book? How did you know that you had made like a complete thing.

Erika L. Sanchez 37:27
Um, I wasn’t quite sure. I mean, I felt like this was the best thing that I could write. You know, I took it as far as I could. And then my agent looked it over. And then my editor eventually looked it over. And I added another essay. But yeah, I felt that there was no way I could improve what I’ve written by myself. And so let’s, let’s try to see what the world has to say about it. And so when I showed it to my agent, she was really pleased. And I made some changes, and, and then we sold it at auction. And it was bananas. I just didn’t even understand what was going to happen. And, you know, I met with many different editors, and it was really exciting. But yeah, to get to that point, I, I had to rewrite this thing multiple times, you know, I, I always do this thing where I print the whole document, and then I write it all over again. Wow. So that’s what I did with these last two books. And it works because it makes me pay attention to language more. It makes me cut things out that feel unnecessary. I remember to include other things. And so that whole process is incredibly important in my revision, and yeah, and then of course, you know, with my editor, I don’t know how many times I’ve revised it. It’s just hard to remember. It’s all blur. Now. It was just a lot of work. Yeah.

Traci Thomas 39:13
Will you say which essay you added the last one? Okay. Okay, since we’re on process, let’s do my favorite. How did you write this book? Where were you? How many hours a day? How often do you write Do you listen to music? Are you having snacks and beverages that? Are their rituals or their candles? Is there a yoga session before after like set the scene of your writing?

Erika L. Sanchez 39:40
Well, where to begin? I write in many different places. Now I have my beautiful office here in the attic of my house and it’s been really wonderful to have like, a cozy place where I could look out the window. No one disturbs me. I could work and and feel like I forget what is happening outside in the world. And so this has been really nice. But before this, I mean I, I’ve written on planes I’ve written on trains I’ve written in different countries I’ve written, you know, in bed. Sometimes in a notebook that I carry, I take walks a whole lot, and that helps my process. I seem to like really figure things out when I when I take a walk. And so, you know, now that I’m more stable, much of it takes place here in at my desk, but when I was single, I was traveling, I was doing this and that I was just really reading wherever I could, and wherever the inspiration struck me. I always listened to that pull, you know?

Traci Thomas 40:54
Yeah. What about snacks and beverages?

Erika L. Sanchez 40:57
Oh, yeah, of course. Many snacks. I like I like hot chips. So like chips. I like kombucha.

Traci Thomas 41:08
Is there a flavor of kombucha that you watermelon? Okay, interesting.

Erika L. Sanchez 41:11
And everyone else in my life seems to think it’s disgusting, but I stand by it. And what else? You know what I smoke weed, you know, whatever. I’m not ashamed. Yeah, I’m always just moving around. And sometimes I, you know, stretch. Sometimes I work out. Sometimes I like sit and meditate for a while. It’s kind of all over the place. Also, reading reading is part of my writing process, obviously. And so I have to read a lot in order for me to feel nourished, intellectually, and emotionally.

Traci Thomas 41:53
Do you read in, in close proximity to writing? Or do you just have like a healthy reading practice that sort of sustains your work? Or some people like to sit down and read like 10 pages before they start writing? Or is it more just like you read a lot? Generally?

Erika L. Sanchez 42:09
It’s more general, I’m always reading and sometimes I read when I’m writing, and sometimes I don’t, it all depends. I’m kind of a free spirit, if you will. I’m still writing, you know, like, I don’t have a set schedule I write when I really want to do it. And even if it sucks, like, I, I do it because something is pushing me to do so. And so, for me, there’s really no limit. You know, I always make sure to have a pin. I mean, sometimes I type things into my phone, but that doesn’t feel right to me. I’m kind of romantic in that way. When what’s your sign? I’m a Gemini and everybody hates us. And that is true people do

Traci Thomas 42:59
Hey. I wasn’t sure because like, I’m, I’m a very rigid person. And so like, for me, I have like a lot of habits around my creativity. Like I need a lot of like, this has to happen. I have to have this I have to pair in this way. And what you’re saying is like very opposite of me. So I was like, Oh, I wonder what but Gemini makes sense. Because that’s like the duality. Yeah, right. Like you can do? Yeah, you can do in a lot of different ways.

Erika L. Sanchez 43:27
What’s your sign?

Traci Thomas 43:29
I’m a Leo. But famously, I was born the last day of cancer. And I didn’t find out I was a Leo until I was an adult when someone did my chart, but I was born so late at night that the son had transitioned into Leo. So I’m like a real true cusp person.

Speaker 2 43:44
Oh, wow. See, I don’t even know what that means.

Traci Thomas 43:47
I just means I’m like a mix of both. But when people meet me, everyone thinks I’m a Leo because I have a pretty big personality. But if you know me, most of my close friends are like urine cancer like nice try. Oh, interesting. Yeah, I think I have big Leo outside energy, but inside have the cancer energy. Anyways. What’s the word? You can never spell correctly on the first try?

Erika L. Sanchez 44:13
license for?

Traci Thomas 44:14
Oh my gosh, that’s an impossible word. Yes. Correct. Stupid. It. There’s like, Where does the AES go? And where does the C go? Because I know they’re both there. But like, Good luck. Good luck to you trying to solve that anyway.

Erika L. Sanchez 44:28
Yeah, it makes me feel very stupid. I’m like, Why do I not know how to, I can’t

Traci Thomas 44:33
spell anything. It’s like, really embarrassing, where I’ll be trying to Google word and I’ll be spelling it’s so wrong, but autocorrect won’t even be able to help me and I’m just, I’m just like, what is like, I can’t this happened to me a few days ago. I can’t remember what it was. But I was like, it’s lost. Now. Like, I can’t even find the word to Google the thing that I want because it can’t even get close to spelling it.

Erika L. Sanchez 44:55
And then if you tell a friend they’re gonna laugh.

Traci Thomas 44:58
Well, I tell my husband, I’m just like, so if you We’re gonna spell license like, what direction? Like, where would you start? And then like, keep going until you get to the end. You know, just help, please. Okay, you in addition to being a writer, you teach people, college students things. How does that help? Or hurt your ability to write? Like, does it get in the way does it give you ideas, maybe it does both.

Erika L. Sanchez 45:28
Both. But for the most part, it really helps. I feel like teaching keeps me very closely engaged with texts. And so I am always, like learning different things. I learned a lot from my students, I really love the act of teaching, I think it’s really fun. And it brings me a lot of joy. And so talking about books with students, when they also feel strongly about the movie is very fun. And that’s something that I always want to have in my life, I think young people bring so much energy to me, and in my life that I just want to keep teaching forever. On the other hand, there are times where of course, I get tired, and there’s all this crap I need to do. And I have to grade and I hate grading and, you know, all I want to do is like, hole up in my attic, and the right thing is and read whatever I want. But it’s not possible because I have all these responsibilities. And so that’s the only time that I ever feel frustrated, but it’s really not that bad. And I, for the most part, just love the experience of it.

Traci Thomas 46:51
Yeah, do you what what’s the title of your course that you are teaching currently? Does it have a great name or something?

Erika L. Sanchez 46:57
Well, I had Latina memoir, a few quarters back, and then I taught American writers of color. Oh, which I designed.

Traci Thomas 47:10
How do you even narrow that down? Like, how do you even come up? with like, a syllabus for that’s like, so many books?

Erika L. Sanchez 47:19
I mean, of course, but I give them like just an intro into this world, because many of them haven’t read these types of books before. A lot of them were like, I’ve never read a book by Native American person or Latino person, what’s the next person? And so I feel like it’s my job to expose them to all all of these great books that, you know, their teachers probably did not. Yeah, expose them to? Do you.

Traci Thomas 47:49
So I’ve had people on who are professors before who say that they pick some books that they know, and then they always put in at least one book that they haven’t read that they’ve been like really wanting to read into their syllabus. Is that what you do?

Erika L. Sanchez 47:59
I do, but you know, what, it’s, it’s been a challenge at times when, when I get the book, and I’m reading it, and it’s a, it’s just a chore to read, you know, sometimes it’s not good. It’s not what you wanted. And you still have to teach that. So you better get it together and figure it out. And so that’s, that makes me hesitate sometimes to do that. But yes, I’ve done

Traci Thomas 48:26
that. Do you ever find I mean, for me, a person who picks a lot of books that sometimes do not pan out, I find that some of the books I don’t like actually ended up like being the best ones for conversation are the best ones for like, like, when I have these book club dialogues, or whatever, that if I have issues with the book, it ends up being like more fun to talk about.

Erika L. Sanchez 48:48
Oh, yeah, there are some books that I wish I would have had a book club for us to talk shit. Or to, I guess, try to figure out what the hype was all about. That’s sometimes very confusing. Yeah, but yeah, I think that from now on, for the most part, I’m going to choose books that have been vetted, because it’s tough teaching something you don’t like. That’s yeah, that’s true.

Traci Thomas 49:16
Yeah. Okay. I know this question is a little bit disrespectful. Please don’t hate me. But do you know what comes next?

Erika L. Sanchez 49:26
Well, first of all, it’s not.

Traci Thomas 49:29
But sometimes I feel like it is. It’s like your books not even out yet. And I’m like, so what are you going to do next like, but I’m just, you know, if you have an idea, please share. If not, we don’t have to do this one.

Erika L. Sanchez 49:39
Well, you know, I’ve got a number of things going on one being the I Am Not Your perfect Mexican daughter movie, which should be in production very soon. And I don’t really have a lot of details on that. But it’s, it’s something that I will be involved in. And so that’s really cool. Also, I am working on a children’s This book ends Oh, yeah, that’s been really fun. I wrote it about my daughter for my daughter, and I’m still working on it right now. And then I write poems a lot these days. So I’m really, really trying to immerse myself in poetry because that’s what makes all this other writing possible for me, is to have that foundation. So there’s nothing like it, you know, reading a poem. I feel like it’s a spiritual experience or something like that. It’s hard to really describe.

Traci Thomas 50:38
Yeah. For people who love crying in the bathroom, what are some other books you might recommend that are maybe in conversation with what you’ve created?

Erika L. Sanchez 50:48
A dream called home by Lena grounded, who is just a really stunning writer. She’s so great. This is a memoir about her. You know, growing up in Mexico immigrating, becoming a writer. It’s just such a fascinating story. And she’s just very skilled in her writing abilities. And so that was some of the season Thanos, a house of my own, where she writes about so many different things. But I think what really moved me about it was this notion of being like a young woman of color, wanting more wanting a life that you never thought would be available to you, but pursuing it anyway. And I feel very inspired by that. And then oh, for brown girls, by prieska Mohinga. Dorcas Rodriguez, I hope I got the order of that correct. She’s amazing. She writes about trauma. And, you know, growing up in a very strict, conservative evangelists, environment, and how damaging that is for for women. And, you know, I have a list of books that I made for my students. Actually, I have a Google Doc, where I like, I just keep adding books to it. Because my students have requested that I do that. And I was very happy to do so.

Traci Thomas 52:25
That’s awesome. Are you going to share it with the rest of us? Or? Yeah. Oh, yeah, you send the link, I can put it in the show notes for people. Cool. Yeah. Fantastic. Last question. If you could have one person dead or alive, read your book. Who would you want it to be?

Erika L. Sanchez 52:40
Toni Morrison. Or James Baldwin?

Traci Thomas 52:45
can argue with that perfect people.

Erika L. Sanchez 52:50
I feel like we would have like really great discussions. If, if I was able to talk to them, maybe in my dreams, I can conjure them. Yeah. Yes. Because my my writing is like very much in the spirit of of what they wrote. And I, I feel very influenced by them as people and as writers.

Traci Thomas 53:14
I love that. All right, everyone crying in the bathroom is out now in the world as you’re listening to this. You can get it wherever you get your books. Erica, you do the audiobook, right?

Erika L. Sanchez 53:26
I do. Yeah. And you can hear my really aggressive Chicago accent which you’ve heard here as well.

Traci Thomas 53:33
I don’t think it’s really aggressive. At all I’ve heard really aggressive makes me uncomfortable. You’re yours is not even close. But sure. But anyway, everyone you can get a book where you get the book wherever you get your books, you can get the audiobook if you want to hear more of Eric has allegedly very aggressive Chicago accent or thank you so much for being here. Thank you. This was lovely. And everyone else we will see you in the stacks

Alright y’all, that does it for us today. Thank you so much for listening and thank you to Erica for being my guest. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to Rebecca Marsh for helping to make this episode possible. Reminder the stacks book club pick for July is season of migration to the north by tayeb salih, which we will be discussing on July 27th. If you liked the show and want insight access to it, head over to patreon.com/the stacks to join the stacks pack. Please make sure you’re subscribed to the stacks wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you’re listening through Apple podcasts or Spotify, be sure to leave us a rating and a review. For more from the stocks follow us on social media at the stocks pod on Instagram and at the stacks pod underscore on Twitter and check out our website stacks podcast.com This episode of The Stacks was edited by Kristian Duenas with production assistance from Lauren Tyree. Our graphic designer is Robin McCray. The Stacks is created and produced by me Traci Thomas.

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