Noelia Rivera is a social studies major in the School of Education (SED’11) who writes vignettes on some of humanity’s most driving forces: obsession and fear.
When did you first start writing?
A while ago. At least since I was 11 years old. It’s hard to remember – forever.
What inspires you to write?
When I write I don’t usually have anything particular in mind that inspires me, I guess I write, and stuff happens. It’s kind of hard to explain.
What was your first short story?
I didn’t wrote short stories until very recently; I used to write poems and attempt at novels. I have a bunch of written stuff just lying around on my computer.
How do you try to improve your writing?
By writing. A lot. I’ve always wanted to take a writing class but I was nervous about people reading my work. I can tell when I’ve written something that I don’t like so I just look back at stuff I don’t like and try to reflect on that.
What other forms of writing/art do you do?
Basically everything. Now I mostly write vignettes that are more surreal — I’ve tried novels, poetry, screenplays. I’ve at least experimented with everything.
What kind of poems did you used to write?
More vignettes than poems– poem-like prose. I don’t rhyme.
How would you explain your surreal voice?
It’s just how I like to write. It’s just more natural to me; I feel really awkward when I try to write in a traditional narrative voice, and it kind of bores me, so I guess that’s why I try to write more surreal.
Are any of your stories based off of real experiences?
Not literal events, but off of general experiences yes. Looking around and checking behind things, like in “Church.” I write about fear and obsession mostly because of my own experiences with OCD. This is kind of my way of trying to express how that feels. So there are the rituals in “Church,” and the obsessive counting in “Parts.” What I’m trying to say in the stories is that everything is fear, to me.
I asked my friend once how she comes up with her ideas for stories and she replied “I call on Zeus.” How do you come up with your ideas? How did you come up with “Church”?
Mostly I write and stuff happens. Lately, I’ve been writing about the theme of obsession and fear. That kind of comes with my experience with OCD. But mostly, I write and stuff happens and it doesn’t make sense until I’ve written it. I wanted to write about obsession and I wanted to bring in the religious imagery to show how obsession is ritualistic.
How many short stories have you written?
I have no idea, a lot. Lots. I’ve been writing for awhile, so I don’t really remember. I lost a lot of stuff when my computer crashed. I lost everything.
What are your goals for your writing/publishing?
I would like to start getting published. I’m going to start sending in to magazines. That’s why I submitted to the Quad, but I didn’t think I would like to start working on improving my writing and getting published. That’s my hope.
How do you want people to feel when they read “Church”?
I guess I just want them to think about it. I don’t usually think that my stories are really obvious; I want people to maybe get that sense that obsession is something really compelling and really sickening at the same time.
Who are your favorite writers?
My favorite writers are not that surreal: Neil Gaimen, Ray Bradbury, Michael Cunningham more recently. Also, Chuck Palahniuk.
I love the Quad.
Read Noelia Rivera’s short story “Chuch” and “Parts” on the next pages.