Tempe Author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo: 100 Creatives

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Phoenix is brimming with creativity. And every other year, we put the spotlight on 100 of the city's creative forces. Leading up to the release of this year's Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome to the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today: 6. Elizabeth Maria Naranjo.

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo's days revolve around reading, writing, and arithmetic.

The Tempe author tackles all of the above throughout the course of an average day, which starts out with taking her kids to school, then brewing coffee and putting on some music. After that, she begins bookmarking stories, essays, and blog posts for later reading, racking up at least 500 (count 'em) words in fiction writing, and then drafting or editing a piece of nonfiction, like an essay or blog post.

See also: Phoenix Storyteller Dan Hull: 100 Creatives

Earlier this year, Naranjo released her debut novel, a young-adult read titled The Fourth Wall. And the writer shows no signs of slowing in her creative output.

"I spend a good amount of time reworking short stories and finding markets to submit them to. I try to always have two or three pieces out on submission," the 39-year-old says, adding that she's currently reworking a short story called "Four Mile Road" and drafting her second novel.

She'll break from the writing and editing process on September 27 to partake in an event with the comedic crew at The Torch Theatre that will put a new (and likely hilarious) spin on the typical literary happening. "That should be a lot of fun -- it's called Improvised Book Club: the idea is that I'll read from my novel and then the performers will create scenes," she says. "It'll be nice doing an author event where I'm not center stage; I'm just providing the material and then I get to enjoy the show!"

I came to Phoenix with my most prized possessions -- which in my 20s consisted of books, CDs, and a box of old writing. Not much else would fit in my car.

I make art because I'm fascinated with human nature, and the best way for me to understand it is to put myself in other peoples' stories. Also, I like to make stuff up.

I'm most productive when I'm under deadline. What motivates a creative writer is her imagination, but it's easy to get stuck there. When I have a date looming; however, I can only daydream about a story so many times before I have to actually write it down.

My inspiration wall is full of my childrens' artwork. Children are so uninhibited in their creativity -- it's encouraged and praised at that age. Adults need to give themselves permission to nurture their imaginations -- something often considered childish. But that's where stories come from.

I've learned most from taking chances. I was a closet writer for years -- afraid to share my work because I thought it wasn't good enough. It probably wasn't, but a writer won't have a clear idea whether her work is good enough or not until she places it in the hands of others. One professional critique is worth more than a dozen books on how to write.

Good work should always hurt a little. If the artist isn't putting himself in there, making it personal, how can he expect his work to reach others? For writing, that doesn't mean making fiction autobiographical; it means putting your heart into your characters. Enough to where it hurts.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more book festivals. We should celebrate reading every chance we get.

See the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives:

100. Bill Dambrova 99. Niki Blaker 98. Jeff Slim 97. Beth May 96. Doug Bell 95. Daniel Langhans 94. Nanibaa Beck 93. Nicole Royse 92. Ib Andersen 91. Casandra Hernandez 90. Chris Reed 89. Shelby Maticic 88. Olivia Timmons 87. Courtney Price 86. Travis Mills 85. Catrina Kahler 84. Angel Castro 83. Cole Reed 82. Lisa Albinger 81. Larry Madrigal 80. Julieta Felix 79. Lauren Strohacker 78. Levi Christiansen 77. Thomas Porter 76. Carrie Leigh Hobson 75. Cody Carpenter 74. Jon Jenkins 73. Aurelie Flores 72. Michelle Ponce 71. Devin Fleenor 70. Noelle Martinez 69. Bucky Miller 68. Liliana Gomez 67. Jake Friedman 66. Clarita Lulić 65. Randy Murray 64. Mo Neuharth 63. Jeremy Hamman 62. La Muñeca 61. Kevin Goldman 60. Emily Costello 59. Kerstin Dale 58. Vara Ayanna 57. Nathaniel Lewis 56. Ruben Gonzales 55. Lisa Poje 54. Bobby Zokaites 53. Frances Smith Cohen 52. Julie Rada 51. David Miller 50. Xanthia Walker 49. Kyllan Maney 48. Cary Truelick 47. Constance McBride 46. James D. Porter 45. Allyson Boggess 44. Abigail Lynch 43. Ashley Cooper 42. Jaclyn Roessel 41. Brandon Boetto 40. Melissa Dunmore 39. Gavin Sisson 38. Rossitza Todorova 37. Monica Robles 36. Josh Kirby 35. Jesse Perry 34. Yai Cecream 33. Nathan Blackwell 32. Carley Conder 31. Ben Willis 30. Nicole Michieli 29. Brian Cresson 28. Tyson Krank 27. Mikey Estes 26. Anwar Newton 25. Sarah "Saza" Dimmick 24. Tato Caraveo 23. Jorge Torres 22. Laura Spalding Best 21. Shawnte Orion 20. Mike Olbinski 19. Christina You-Sun Park 18. Jon Arvizu 17. Anya Melkozernova 16. J.B. Snyder 15. Damon Dering 14. Rebekah Cancino 13. Liz Warren 12. Timothy Brennan 11. Mimi Jardine 10. Rosalind Shipley 9. Nic Wiesinger 8. Kendra Sollars 7. Dan Hull

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