Xuan Juliana Wang

How did you become a writer?

I love language and I am bad at almost everything else. 

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

By looking at my bookshelf I'd say the short stories of Tobias Wolff, Denis Johnson, Mary Gaitskill, Amy Hempel, Grace Paley, Claire Vaye Watkins, Susan Minot, David Bezmozgis, and Yiyun Li. Tolstoy's Anna Karenina and Haruki Murakami’s The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. Every teacher I've ever had has influenced me for wildly different reasons. 

When and where do you write?

I draft late at night or early in the morning, ideally at a big desk, while listening to movie soundtracks. 

What are you working on now?

A love story. 

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

Right before I entered the Wallace Stegner fellowship I met a past fellow who said, "It's funny all of a sudden you win this fancy fellowship and then you may find it impossible to write!" At the time I had no idea what she was talking about, and then it became reality. 

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Perhaps this is more advice geared towards editing. Find the best part of your story and move it to the first page. Challenge yourself to make everything rise to the level of that. 

What’s your advice to new writers?

Live an interesting life, walk around, notice things and people and be open to them. Don't be afraid to be different. Write to what is aching from you at this very moment. 

Xuan Juliana Wang was born in Heilongjiang, China, and moved to Los Angeles when she was seven years old. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and received her MFA from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Ploughshares, The Best American Nonrequired Reading and the Pushcart Prize Anthology. A fellow of the Corporation of Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, she currently teaches at UCLA.