Rachael Warecki is a native of Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review, the Masters Review, Midwestern Gothic, the Tahoma Literary Review, and elsewhere. She is a graduate of Scripps College and Loyola Marymount University, and holds an MFA in Fiction from Antioch University Los Angeles. For more information, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.
ROAR: Who is a feminist you wish the world knew more about?
RACHAEL: This was probably the question with which I struggled the most. Even though I went to a women’s college, I feel like my knowledge of feminism’s history is fairly superficial compared to other people’s. There are so many feminists about whom I should know more, honestly.
But I will say that I wish the world gave more kudos to people who are, either quietly or not-so-quietly, doing feminist things every day, just by existing and making choices and working toward their goals. I have friends who are women of color working in male-dominated industries, dealing with harmful assumptions and stereotypes; I know people who are intentionally making space for more women’s voices in the literary community; I am close with teachers and supervisors who are opening pathways to success for their women students and protégées; I see the online disability community boosting women’s voices and talking a lot about intersectionality. But I sometimes overlook just how feminist all this work actually is–maybe because I went to a women’s college, where feminism felt kind of like the baseline.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: I wish we could all be better about explicitly recognizing the feminist icons in our own lives, whether they’re our relatives or classmates or coworkers or friends. (Does that make even the slightest bit of sense outside of my own head?)
ROAR: We have talked a lot in person about trying to achieve an artistic/working life when you have a 9-5 day job. Can you talk to me about that but with activism work?
RACHAEL: Activism around the confines of my job is difficult, not only because I have to keep the two things very, very separate, but also because my day job isn’t just a 9-5. Most days I’m at work from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., if not later; during the busiest times, I also work on weekends and late into the evenings. So, for various reasons, something that seems as simple as calling my representatives–on which many calls to action have been centered since the election and inauguration–isn’t quite as easy for me, given my specific situation.
But I’ve always worked jobs with longer hours, and I’ve always had to fit my activism around the dual constraints of time and health. Because of those constraints, my activism has mostly been flexible and locally based: mentoring via email or on the weekend, writing letters on behalf of former students who need specific help, donating to individuals and organizations, attending smaller events and rallies. Since the election, I also send emails to representatives when I’m off the clock, and I call and donate when I’m able, and I boost things online, especially resistance-related work by people from marginalized and multi-marginalized communities. It’s not enough–it’s never been enough–but I’m still trying to achieve that balance.
ROAR: What is the most rewarding thing you have ever done artistically?
RACHAEL: I’m not sure if this counts as something “done,” because I’m still not finished (yet) and it’s not published (yet), but my most rewarding artistic achievement thus far has been the work I’ve put into my novel manuscript. I’ve been working on it for six years now–I started it just before I got into my MFA program, and I’ve taken a few multi-month breaks here and there because work or family has taken precedence, but I’ve always come back to this particular story. And I think each round of revisions has made it a stronger, better novel, which isn’t something I’ve been able to say about the previous five manuscripts I’ve written, all of which I’ve trunked.
ROAR: What does activism look like to you?
RACHAEL: For me personally, I think it’s about stepping aside, hearing what marginalized and multi-marginalized people have to say about their experiences and their methods of activism and their solutions, and then doing my part to boost that signal. It’s about educating myself rather than putting the burden of my own education on others. It’s about supporting literature by marginalized and multi-marginalized writers, buying their books and letting publishers know that I, as a reader, want more diverse literature. It’s about being uncomfortable, examining that discomfort, and working through it rather than pushing it aside and using it as an excuse to dismiss others’ ideas. And it’s about doing what I can to help provide opportunities for others who haven’t necessarily had the opportunities I have, whether it’s by leveraging my networks to connect people, or by passing along my knowledge or expertise, or by using my privilege to stop bad outcomes and/or create good ones.
ROAR: What next?
RACHAEL: My natural inclination is to be far from the spotlight, so I’m going to go back to revising the lives of fictional people instead of yammering on and on about my own. 🙂
Ashley Perez lives, writes, and causes trouble in Los Angeles. She has a strong affinity for tattoos, otters, cat mystery books, and actual cats, but has mixed feelings about pants. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She runs the literary site Arts Collide and does work of all varieties for Women Who Submit, Jaded Ibis Press, Midnight Breakfast, ROAR, and Why There Are Words. Her work can be found at The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, The Weeklings, Red Light Lit, and others. You can find her on Twitter at @ArtsCollide.