Today’s Spotlight is on Juan Alanis (@juanofwords), Founder & Editor of www.juanofwords.com - a Brand Advocate & Consultant, Freelance Writer, Mexicano bien Texano, Father, Husband, etc. Juan is also Director of the NEW Houston LATISM Chapter. You can find Juan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/
On his blog, www.juanofwords.com, Juan writes about bicultural life in the U.S. with a unique Tejano spin. Topics range from celebrity chismes to immigration as Juan showcases life in Houston and examines various cultural dichos and refranes.
Spotlight on Juan Alanis, JuanofWords.com / LATISM Houston
1. Juan, tell us where you and your family are from — country of origin and heritage. Where did you grow up?
My parents are both from Cerritos, San Luís Potosí, Mexico. My two elder sisters were born there as well and the rest of us were born here in the states. In total, somos nueve in the family including my parents, and we have lived in Texas for most of our lives. Like many other Hispanic families my parents arrived to this country as undocumented immigrants and they worked very hard to raise all of us with what little they could earn living in the shadows of immigration and law enforcement. Eventually they were able to obtain their legal residency and we were all able to finally leave the Texas-Mexico border for a new urban life in the city of Houston. This is where most of us still live today.
I guess the one thing I could say about my family is that we have always been very close knit and very united. Growing up it really felt like we were all we had, and the hardships we faced have really made us all that much more thirsty to seguir luchando.
2. You are the creator of “Juan of Words” – a popular blog focusing on stories and prose. Tells us more about Juan of Words: How you came up with this name and share with us your journey to blogging.
Wow, that’s a great question! I’d wanted to write professionally since I can remember. I mean there literally are hundreds of my early writings on sheets of folded paper all over my parents house, sheets of paper that I would cut in half, fold in half, and staple together to make them look like little books, complete with drawings and everything. I just never really believed this was an achievable dream for me. First, the idea of writing for a living seemed like such a farfetched dream because it was just not something we had ever been exposed to. My dad worked patching roofs and my mom cleaned houses for a living. Anything that didn’t include doing either of these jobs seemed like a great success to me.
When my English teacher told me I should be a writer in middle school I thought she was crazy. As fate would have it though after graduating from college, however, that’s exactly what I ended up doing – working as a writer for various newspapers. This eventually led to further writing work in the public relations field, and eventually to my deep desire to express myself more creatively in my own words.
One day after telling my wife for the thousandth time that I wanted to start a blog she turned to me and said “Juan, just go for it!” That was the push that I had been waiting for and after spending several days debating a blog name with her, we settled on Juan of Words because it just felt right. I never imagined my words would connect with so many people. Juan of Words and this blog has truly been a blessing. I am so honored and touched by all of the people who have helped me grow the name and brand through their readership.
3. Can you share some of your short- and long-term goals with ‘Juan of Words’? How is blogging helping your professional career or creative pursuits?
My goal is really quite simple. I just want to continue writing and connecting with more readers through the Juan of Words blog and brand. That really is all the compensation I’m after. It’s such a beautiful feeling to have people tell me how my writing has connected with them in so many ways. Hasta me dan ganas de chillar.
4. Latina bloggers far out-number Latino bloggers. What are your thoughts on why this is the case? Juan of Words appeals to all bloggers, regardless of sex, race and ethnicity. How have you made that possible?
As in real life, Latinas just have it together. They know what they are doing and how to connect with their audiences. I’m just amazed and inspired by the know how of the Latina blogger networks… and of course humbled that they have embraced me as a bloguero. In terms of making my blog and brand open to all, I really think that is what makes the written word so powerful. That you don’t have to be anything like the writer in order to understand and feel what they are trying to express through their writing. I strive everyday to try to let my words do the talking, not anything else.
5. Latinos are facing serious challenges in education in this country. A love for reading and writing are at the core for academic success. How did you become interested in creative writing? Who motivated you to pursue an education?
I think it was in my genes. My father is a lover of books and he has always been a reader. Whether it was the Mexican comic books when we were kids or Lluvia de Oro now that we are adults, he is very curious about the worlds contained inside of a book. That had to have something to do with it, I think. My mother is also one who is always up for a challenge and one of those mujeres who does not know what the word “can’t” means. Anytime she’s ever set her mind to achieve something she has done it. A duras penas, but she’s done it. I think I get my coraje for doing what I love from her.
6. What are you most proud of as a blogger?
There have been a couple of instances where I’ve received emails from readers about just how much a certain blog post has touched them. In one specific case, one reader printed out my post and handed it to a young boy who was growing up very similarly to the way I did. She said she did so to show him that even though his life might have been hard at the moment, and his family was having a very hard time, that there were people like him who had made it to see a better tomorrow. That really meant a lot to me and to this day continues to be the highlight of all of this experience for me. It really meant so much to me.