On Tuesday, April 30, the English Department Student Association (EDSA) hosted a writer’s workshop titled “Getting Published: Tips for Aspiring Authors,” aimed to help students understand the process towards publishing for the very first time. The event was moderated by Andrea Valdés, president of EDSA, and the workshop was conducted by published authors Fernando Correa and Dr. Gabriel Romaguera.

This workshop sought to help aspiring authors and writers gain insight of the publishing process by presenting a panel of young, experienced authors to speak about their personal writing journey and take on publishing for the first time. “It was a way to demystify how people become writers, how they complete their drafts, and how, eventually, they are able to turn it into a published work…” shared Valdés on a written interview. The event speakers were graduate student, Fernando Correa, and assistant professor, Dr. Gabriel Romaguera.

Fernando Correa is a graduate student in our Masters in Arts of English Education (MAEE) that has self-published and helped published a variety of poetry books. His first book entitled 36 Chambers of FEN: Enter Las FENdejaces was published in 2015, touching on themes such as family and identity. Recently, Correa published The María Journals, a compilation of all of the poetry he wrote since two days before Hurricane María struck Puerto Rico all the way to September 20th, 2018.

Our other speaker was Dr. Gabriel Romaguera, who has a PhD in English from the University of Rhode Island (URI), but his BA and MA in English are from our Department of English. This Mayagüez native was a GTA in 2008-2009 as part of our MAEE, but he currently works in our English Department as an adjunct assistant professor. Romaguera’s first novel is Murder at Crimson Manor, a dark comedy about university students who are trying to survive all the struggles of college life where things turn tragic but also more interesting along the way.

Throughout the workshop, the speakers talked about some of the logistics that go into the writing and publishing process. From the inception and drafting of an idea within the writing process, to the publishing and marketing of the final piece, the speakers provided their input in the aforementioned processes based on their experiences as rookie authors. “My focus was more on the narrative production of fiction and long form texts,” stated Dr. Romaguera on a written interview, “… Fernando Correa spoke on his expertise when it comes to publishing his many poetry collections.”

When the workshop was concluded, EDSA president, Andrea Valdés, opened the panel for a Q&A towards the participants. “Writing is process, do you agree or disagree and why?” asked Valdés as a first question. “Super agree!” immediately responded Correa. He explained how his personal writing process consists of putting everything down, looking at it with fresh eyes, and continue to work on it again and again. “… you’re going to see things you don’t like, so work on them and then get it revised by sending it to friend. Rewrite and send it again for feedback… as the writing process continues, get ready for publishing for when it’s done.”

We asked the panel how does one knows that a piece is done and ready to be published. “[It is done] when I know that it’s not only achieve what I want do, but also when someone that I highly admire tells me that [it’s getting there].” Answered Romaguera. He also encouraged writers to get different perspective but to always maintain their main idea or what they want to communicate within the piece.

After the event was done, Andrea Valdés shared that her main hope for this workshop was to help aspiring authors understand that writing is a process that requires discipline and planning. “It is more than just saying ‘I want to be a writer,’” firmly stated the English Literature major, “It’s about taking that desire, learning what works for you, and putting them into practice.”

The speakers shared one last piece of advice for those who have high hopes of becoming successful, publish writers:

Find the right moment when you are okay enough with your work that you are okay sending it to the printing press. If you keep putting it off until it’s perfect then you will stay stuck in revision mode and won’t get over that crucial step. Second editions can be the opportunity to revisit and improve the text once you have some more readers/reviewers of your work. – Gabriel Romaguera

Be creative, patient and disciplined. In today’s climate where art, entertainment and overall content is more available than ever, you must be creative in order to stand out, patient because very rarely does success comes in the blink of an eye, and of course disciplined because in order to achieve greatness there must always be practice. In addition, I would tell them to not be afraid of putting themselves out there, to be truly passionate about their work and to learn a few things about self-promotion. – Fernando Correa

To keep up with our speakers work you can follow their blogs and social media. We can find Fernando Correa’s work in his blog at fencorrea.weebly.com/blog and following him on Twitter and Instagram @fencorrea, or on Facebook. Also, make sure to check out Dr. Romaguera’s blog as well: https://midnightsnackserial.wordpress.com/