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Meet David Lopez

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Lopez.

David, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I knew I was a writer when nothing made me happier in Kindergarten than making personalized birthday cards for my loved ones. As best as I could, I would write my feelings and express what people meant to me. Even though my spelling and grammar was never perfect, I still touched people with my words–and that meant the world to my five-year-old little heart. Today, I’m still not perfect. Far from it. I sometimes ramble, sometimes have issues with spelling those SAT words or my placement of commas, but my heart remains. Writing has gotten me through many extremely difficult times in my life–primarily heartbreak, grief, and my own bouts with identity and self-confidence. It has always been my solace, but I constantly struggle with writer’s block–awaiting the muse–and I fear that I have grown too dependent on crisis to urge writing. What I have done to condition myself is to write about things that I love and that are personal to me. This is what has led me to explore poetry, screenwriting, memoir, and journalism.

In addition to my writing, I am a librarian in my home of Santa Ana. I am fortunate enough to be able to work in the community where I have grown up. As a kid, my aunt and my sister worked for the library and this introduced me to the possibilities a library could afford. My summers were spent joining reading programs and attending movie screenings while after school, I was getting tutored and learning how to use a computer—all for free! During undergrad, a part-time library job opportunity presented itself so I thought I would give it a shot. What I didn’t know is that this job would soon turn into a career where I would be able to impart my knowledge of library resources to the community. The library has taught me about the importance of literacy and access to information, but ultimately, it has been the congregation of people inside the library’s walls that has transformed me into the librarian I am today. Like many in the field, I am an ‘accidental librarian’, but most of us who got here by ‘accident’ fail to realize that this is where we were meant to be. I personally have found great pleasure in exploring how I can contribute to the shift in the library profession. I thrive on networking with other professionals and commiserating or celebrating our ventures. It is what I learn from colleagues that has kept me fueled in my day-to-day jobs and inspires me to do more for my community. I see myself and my family in every person that is lifted up by a library resource and at the end of the day, that is what motivates me to move forward. Whether it is finding a book on a shelf, giving directions to the local immigration office, showing someone how to use an electronic device, or getting drag queens to tell a story–there’s magic in libraries every day.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Nothing has been smooth. Even today, I struggle to find inspiration and suffer from major imposter syndrome. I often question if what I am doing brings value to those who experience what I offer and this, I believe, stems from my life of personal trauma that I now attribute to my resilience. My anxiety gets in the way of clarity and I constantly second-guess myself. I often get attacked by my inner saboteur telling me I’m not smart enough, I’m not good enough, I’m not worthy—and someone is going to figure it out! It takes a lot to recover from failure or rejection so sometimes trying can seem impossible. These are things I’ve had to learn to control the hard way.

Writing is never easy. Like with any art form, it does not exist until it is experienced and criticism can be soul-crushing, but no one’s criticism is as harsh as their own. Mine included. Rejection is real and it is that fear of rejection that often gets the best of me and interferes with my ability to write. But when I am inspired, I feel like I write for myself—without restraint—and that is when I invoke my best work—when it’s for me.

My career as a librarian has its bumps as well. While I am passionate and happy with my work, funding is a systemic problem across libraries across the nation and my community is no exception. This causes frustration. There are many things that we wish we could do to make our libraries better, but unfortunately, funding can pose a substantial roadblock that can even derail you from why it is that you do the work that you do. In libraries, we have to tap into creativity to be able to serve the needs of others. Fortunately for libraries, patrons acknowledge the access to resource as life-changing and affirming tools and are grateful with whatever we can provide. But that shouldn’t stop us. We should continue to strive for excellence regardless of our budgets. Usually, this requires working from the heart outward.

We’d love to hear more about your work as a writer.
For almost two years, I have been a contributor to Instinct Magazine, one of the nation’s leaders in online LGBTQ+ news. My freelance writing challenges me to inject my voice into the world and expose how opinionated I can be. My writing stems from very personal places and sometimes I keep pieces just for myself. I’m not sure if this is a defense mechanism or greed, but most of the time I write with the intent for people to read and experience my words. While the focus of the publication has historically been for gay men, today, the magazine is a transformed site that includes diverse narratives spanning politics, entertainment, popular culture, travel, and more. Through Instinct, I have had the great opportunity to interview some incredible LGBTQ+ figures I feel are paving the way for today’s and future generations. From celebrities to activists to drag queens, each has taught me something more about myself. As a queer Latino, it’s important for me to use my freelancing to highlight and celebrate narratives by LGBTQ+ people of color and allies. Writing about LGBTQ+ news has inspired other facets of my writing and vice versa. I’ve tapped into my poetry, nonfiction, and screenwriting projects and taken these a step further in detailed articles.

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Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My parents have always put their faith in me and my siblings 100%. It is their confidence and reassurance that keeps me ticking to this day. I attribute my work ethic and my ability to empathize from them. They taught me to work hard, be objective, but to follow my heart. I have also had many great friends who have pushed me to share my voice through writing and in librarianship. People who, without, I would continue to struggle to find happiness. In one way or another, they’ve all given me advice, guided me, listened to my frustrations, read my work, and slapped some sense into me. They all know what they mean to me, but I’ll thank them here: Albert Lopez, Jr., Sarah Rafael Garcia, Susan Luévano, Silvia Cisneros, Adam Dupuis, and last, but never least, Julian Guzman, who often knows me better than I know myself and who will always believe in me.

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