1. How long have you lived in New Mexico? Does it affect you creatively, as a writer, in terms of identity? Or?
2. I like the term “emerging” in that it implies the new, the fresh. But you have also published a lot, could be considered established as a writer and editor. So, what are you emerging into? What are your goals/visions for yourself these days?
3. What is your favorite thing about writing? Least favorite?
1. I’ve been in New Mexico since January 2013, and I moved from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I think the move made a huge impact on my writing for many reasons, but I actually started writing about New Mexico before moving out here, and since moving out here I switched my focus from short stories, primarily flash fiction, to writing a novel. This place inspires me in a different way than Virginia, so I have seen my writing change in certain ways I didn’t expect when I moved. I also engage with the outdoors very differently in New Mexico, which is sometimes how I work out story ideas or get myself energized before writing. Aside from writing specifically, Santa Fe especially tends to be more accepting of LGBT people than much of the South, so my overall identity has shifted a bit because I feel more comfortable and open out here. I also write more consistently out here than I did in Virginia, and perhaps that’s part of why.
2. First, thanks so much! I really like to be engaged with the literary community both through my writing and through editing, which I genuinely enjoy. I see myself as emerging because I may have published in a lot of journals, but not many of them are very well-known, and I’ve yet to publish a book. I’ve published far more than a book through literary journals, but it doesn’t carry the same clout. So my goals are to publish a book (then more), and to elevate the level of literary magazine that I send my work to. I’m nervous about making goals like “getting a story into such-and-such magazine” because story taste is so subjective, and I’d rather cast a wide net and see where my work is welcomed than try to force it into any venue or change my approach to storytelling to fit what a specific journal wants. That’s not to say I don’t work with editors—I actually love that work as a writer also—and that I don’t have a list of 10 absolute dream magazines to be published in, but I try to shape my goals around finding the best places for my work and let those dream publications help shape my goals rather than dictate them.
3. My favorite thing about writing is obviously writing something in a way that feels just right, but it’s also the glorious struggle before that and perhaps more so, the idea-world of writing. I love the way I get to play with ideas as a writer, and that in writing I get to combine the world of ideas and the concrete world. My least favorite part is spending hours working very hard on a specific piece and reading it the next day only to feel like very little (or sometimes nothing!) got done. It stresses me to just think about it!
Here is the opening of Eichelberger’s piece in New Mexico’s Emerging Writers
An Anthology Compiled and Edited by Z Publishing House
The Colors When He Thinks of Her
Jonathan never told anyone, but when his mom fell ill, he started picturing her framed by a colorful mass of the hummingbirds she loved so much, her face bright as the metal hibiscus flowers that lit up the windows of her home, large red and pink blossoms from which the tiny birds could drink. She told Jonathan on the phone from the hospital that she had collapsed in the grocery store while reaching for creamed corn and that her blood work had been inconclusive—she told him this three weeks to the day after his move to France to make use of his international business degree, just hours after he’d secured a job and spent the last euros to his name on a celebratory beer.