Reckless anxiety

Hugo Esteban Rodriguez Castaneda, University of Texas at El Paso


Reckless Anxiety will focus on fourteen short stories that have characters who all suffer from some form of mental illness, compulsion or disorder. The title is itself a paradox, because anxiety in its general sense could make someone with it more cautious than normal. I wanted to take it to an extreme level and approach writing with the recklessness of an artist afraid of what could happen should he ever stop moving or stop dancing. ^ PROJECT BACKGROUND: Before I started developing my thesis, as a writer I felt as if I was on a path with only one direction. In the periphery, I could see that there were other Latin@ authors and poets that had been charting out the map and making incredible inroads into the literary world. I felt disconnected to that, as if those paths were meant for someone else. I had, however, made inroads myself into different venues of writing. I had been a journalist in high school and in college and had adapted those lessons into my professional career. But for writing on my spare time, that process started changing when I enrolled at the University of Texas at El Paso’s Online Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Before that, my biggest hangup as a writer was being genre-stricken—that is, sticking to either sci-fi or fantasy. Once I started at UTEP, I started a process that made me appreciate, learn, and breathe literary fiction. ^ Writing short stories is a process that, for me, begins first and foremost with writing poetry. In my poetry, I use both image and line to the best of my ability to describe things around me. As a poet, I find something specific that calls to me, whether it is a building off of Houston’s Southwest Freeway, a particularly strong emotion at the closing of a Waldenbooks in Brownsville, or seeing two complete strangers dance the night away in a country western club. Then I scribble a page or two about that particular moment on a notepad that tends to be on my person most of the time. I then wait a week before transferring the physical notes into digital ink, where it then sits in a designated “crockpot” folder. Here, my ideas stew for one more week while I initiate other projects. Once the week passes, I re-open my project and determine whether or not the poem is ready. I have found that waiting several weeks to truly determine the worth of a poem rather than trying to perfect a poem in one sitting, and to view that poem with new clarity, has allowed me to greatly improve my poetic talents. If it is ready, then it is saved and kept in a folder for submissions. If it is not, then I set the poem aside in another folder and cannibalize the imagery for something else, or perhaps for future edits. Within this graveyard of incomplete poetry I can see if there is a connection or enough substance and enough imagery to go deeper. This makes up the first component of my fiction process. The other component involves having all that occur inside my own mind, everything from the initial draft to determining the worth or potential of a creative project. The union of these two processes is what allowed the birth of Reckless Anxiety as my thesis.^

Subject Area

Creative writing

Recommended Citation

Rodriguez Castaneda, Hugo Esteban, "Reckless anxiety" (2015). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10061480.