We had the good fortune of connecting with Diego Ornelas-Tapia and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Diego, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
When I first started writing, I put my book over every aspect of my life first. That means I didn’t dedicate time for my friends or family and I hardly even took care of myself, too. I followed the advice told to many other writers. Advice that told me to write a certain number of hours in a day. Advice that told me to meet a word count deadline in a week. Advice that pretty much followed the “hustle” culture that so many people preach these days.
So, I followed that advice blindly and worked my butt off, putting in at least eight hours in a day for seven days a week. This routine went on for at least a year and guess what? It drained me. I slept four or five hours a day; I didn’t eat or exercise as much as I should have; I wouldn’t allow myself time to take a break, whether it be by hanging out with a friend or just treating myself to a movie or a nice meal at a restaurant. (R.I.P. pre-Covid days.) And because of this, I was always exhausted and depressed. It got so bad that there were a few days that I felt like I would faint as I was out in public.
Since my health got so bad I needed to take time off from writing. I gave myself a much needed mini-vacation and it was during this time where I sat down and re-evaluated my work-life balance. I decided to break free from the “hustle” culture I followed and come up with a working schedule that worked best for ME. The end result meant that I worked smarter, not harder.
I now have a good balance between my work and my life. If I’m tired, I take a break. If I feel like hanging out with a friend, I give them a call. And if I’m in “The Zone,” as I like to call it when I have the drive to write five thousand words, I dedicate the entire day to squeeze out as many words I can onto the page.
Life is a battle of finding that balance between every aspect of your life. The mastery of this allows for the mastery of one’s soul.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a self-published author and I’m currently promoting my upcoming book, To Tame a Dame, a crime thriller set in L.A. in 1928. To Tame a Dame is part of my bigger project that’s called Void, a story of a man traveling through space and time in order to try and bring his wife back from the dead. I like to see it as a love letter to all the genres I love, much like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to film and Hollywood. If there’s one thing I’m really excited to talk about, it’s Void. But, I’ll have to hold my tongue until it’s finished. Once it is, though, I’m going to share all the details on my podcast: Venturesome Dreamer Podcast.
What do I want the world to know about me as an author?
I refuse to tie myself down to one genre. I don’t want to be known as a fantasy writer or a thriller writer because, much like Christopher Nolan in film, my interests are just way too vast.
When it boils down to it, I’m obsessed with unique and adventurous stories that blend multiple genres and explore the human condition; stories that place emphasis on the emotional ties of the characters rather than anything else.
Like Joel and Ellie’s growing bond in The Last of Us.
Or Zuko’s character arc in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Or Ciri and Geralt’s reunion in The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
Or Cooper literally outgrowing his son and daughter in Interstellar.
These are the types of stories I aim to make.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I think one of my fondest memories was horseback riding, so I’d take them to LA Horse Rentals in Glendale and go on a nice walk. Then, I’d hit Dog Haus which isn’t too far from there and enjoy a delicious hot dog!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Gosh, there’s so many people in my life I want to thank for helping me out on my writing journey. For starters, there’s my family. I was fortunate enough to be raised in a household that pretty much let me and my sister be. I’ve known many people who have parents that force them to do or be something they don’t want to be. That could be joining the military, becoming accepted to a certain university, or following their footsteps in the family business. I’ve seen how bad it can affect certain friends when they’re forced to follow a path they don’t want and their pain only reminds me of how grateful I am for my parents. They let me be. And I can never thank them enough for it.
Some other people I’d like to thank are my childhood best friend, Marco; my friend from high school, Sebastian, and his wife, Julie; and my gaming buddy from Brazil, Caue. As I was coming up with a plan to market and self-publish my first book, To Tame a Dame, I had many conversations with them that gave me many ideas on how I should promote it. The two biggest takeaways that came from these conversations were the declaration that I wouldn’t distribute my book for free and that I would start a podcast that talked about my books.
The last person I’d like to thank is my friend Maureen. I met her back in the Summer of 2017, a time in my life where I was figuring out just what I wanted to do with my life. And, well, meeting her, a fellow artist and filmmaker following her dream, inspired me to set out on a long path that led me to where I am now: an author.
Other: LinkTree: https://linktr.ee/venturesomedreamer
Photos: Mo McFadden Book Cover: Jeff Brown