Researching Literary Agents... such a long process.

#amwriting

Today, I decided to look at a few literary agents, thinking that if I prepare a few people to send the manuscript to, it would streamline the process more. What it ended up being was endeavor that took up a lot of time, and made me realize how complex finding an agent really is.

There are people that looked promising when you read their blurb, but as you look at the clients they have, it’s possible that it’s not a good fit. They have a lot of social influencers as clients, or writers that haven’t done that well, or they say they are interested in books about “interesting places” but seems to mean, only in the UK. There is a question of whether these agents are looking for something different to what I can offer, or looking for something different from their existing clients, and whether they have the right contacts for what I want, and in fact, what are they?

Of course, the end of the day, there is no saying that the person would be interested in the first place. This reminds me of when I started submitting to literary magazines, and people kept saying you should read a copy to learn what the editors likes. Then after reading a large number of them, I could see some of the publications had different styles, but it still gave me no indication which piece of mine they might publish. In fact, often the answer was, I didn’t think an Asian female voice had any place. But then it didn’t mean they wouldn’t happen to just like what I wrote.

I sent my stories in anyway, having no clearer idea whether I had a chance with the said magazine at all. The better indication it turned out, was if the editor was a woman. With the exception of one, I have yet to be published in a literary magazine where a man is the chief editor.

So, there we go, finding a literary agent has a lot to do with luck. We can research and do the best we can to find the right fit, but there is no knowing at all. There are just so many variables. Are they good? Do they have the right contacts? Do they even care to have a new client?

I thought it would help me to feel more in control by researching agents, but actually its just shown me how much longer the process of getting published will be.


Nearly finishing the novel.....

#amwriting

 

Going to put all the political awakening story into one place and then write it as one short story, then separate it back into the different sections on the book. That should give it a unity. 

Thinking of reading through my political awakening in Glutter too, I suppose that is what it is in real time, albeit not in 1997. Thats what part of the book is about right? I hate reading things from that time. I don’t even know why. It’s not that I’m embarrassed of it, or think it’s badly written, just don’t like thinking about how so many people read my private thoughts I suppose. I don’t know… 

Still struggling with the way my book is chaptered, mainly it’s a lot of work every time I move something around or add another chapter, and I already have one change I need to make. But it’s just how the book is set up. 

The amount of time I’ve spent just formatting the book is ridiculous. It might not be my job in the end and it will be taken over by someone else and end up not the way I want. 

Split part 3 back into part 3 and 4. I’m always changing things. I still like my book, although the very short chapters which I liked makes it seem too simplistic now. 

I still need to rewrite some more chapters, especially in part 3…. But it’s so close now. I can see the ending. Although frustrated at the amount of work I still need to put in. I wish it was a little closer to finish to be honest. 

I’m looking forward to sending it out. 


Developing Political Awakening in Novel

#amwriting

The book is well on the way to being finished. I’ve sent the first part to the editor to clean up the English. The original story is done, I’ve been surprised by how little I need to rewrite for the majority of the book.

What I’m stuck on is the political awakening of the character. Although that was part of my goal when I wrote the book, I didn’t develop that part at all. I focused mainly on the story and it was never made explicit. I realized that the book desperately needs that Renee’s political development, especially when she grows up to be so aware for the follow up book. All the scenes regarding such a change is not ready, and only sketches.

It’s been stressing me out a lot. Like the book will never be finished, and that this is part, which maybe the most important part will look childish and undeveloped.

Today though, as I sat down with my Los Feliz Writer’s Group, albeit remotely, I realized that consider the amount of time I spent writing the love story, the friendships, I haven’t spent a fraction of time thinking of Renee’s internal development in terms of her political view.

There is a part of me that thinks it’s obvious, or overly sentimental and afraid to write it. But I suppose it just takes the work and time to do that and if I put in the time, it won’t come of as too pedantic.

I feel that I am still far off from able to get it done, but at least, I feel today I took more control of the situation, it’s a step in the right direction, instead of this constant blur in the corner of my mind that I am stressing about.


Door - A Short Story.

“Door” is an excerpt from a trilogy of novels set in Hong Kong. The novels span the 50 years between the regime change between Britain and China in 1997 and when Hong Kong becomes fully integrated into the Chinese Communist Party’s totalitarian state. This story is set in today’s Hong Kong Resistance which started in June 2019 and continues to the present.”

 

"The next morning, I called someone to fix the door. An old sifu, with two young men arrived.

“I’ve been fixing a lot of doors,” the man said, with resignation in his voice. “There are so many doors being broken these days.”

I nodded at him, understanding his coded message. He knew.

After putting in the new door, I asked him how much. He pushed my wallet towards me. “Ng sai bei chin,” he said.

I insisted, at least let me pay for the door, even if he didn’t let me pay for his services. He said again, “No need to pay.” I took out some cash, and tried to tip the young men who helped him.

They both shook their heads. As they started to leave, one of the young men looked around as if wary someone might hear. When he saw no one, he spoke to me.

“Gwon fok Heung Kong,” he said. “Liberate Hong Kong.”"

 

Full Story. 


Publications: Fiction/Essays (No Longer Updated)

Please go to https://glutter.typepad.com/glutter/

 

FICTION and ESSAYS

 

Once I saw an Elephant
Five on the Fifth: Dec 5 2019

Door
Cultural Weekly: Nov 7 2019

Consumed 
Ordinary Madness, Weasel Press: 2019

McKinsey Point.
Animal: A Beast of a Literature Magazine: May 2019

Falling
Gravel Mag: April 2019

Taipei, Taiwan
Wanderlust Journal: Nov 19, 2018

Nineties Song
Litro Online: July 2018 

Stop at Red
Suitcase of Chrysanthemums
Great Weather For Media Anthology: 2018 

How I became a Chinese Mother
Miso For Life: 2012

At the Heart of the Smiley Face
PopMatters: 15 June 2004

Live Fast, Die Young. A night with the Street Racers
BC Magazine: Feb 01, 2004

Days in the DotCom Bubble
Net Slaves: March 2003 

The Raver Personality Guide
XLR8R: Mar/April 1996

Tattooed Dragons
Boiling Point Anthology: 1996

Multiple Pieces
Yummi Hussi Zine Issues: 1995-1996

Three Shades of Blue
University of Waikato Press Anthology: 1995

 

 

INVITED READINGS

Great Weather for Media Tour 
Beyond Baroque. Venice Beach Oct 25 2019

Great Weather for Media Tour
Stories Books & Cafe. Los Angeles: Oct 23 2018

Great Weather for Media Tour
Beyond Baroque. Venice Beach. Oct 21 2018

 


Publications: On Hong Kong (No Longer Updated)

Please go to:

https://glutter.typepad.com/glutter/on-hong-kong.html

 

Hong Kong Essays

It’s #MeToo and all of us: Hongkongers will not accept oppression, subjugation or sexual violence
Hong Kong Free Press: 26 September 2019

What is White Terror? The slipping of norms in Hong Kong’s flawed democracy.
Hong Kong Free Press: 2 September 2019

Hong Kong’s last stand? A gallant battle in the face of unspeakable sacrifice and overwhelming odds.
Hong Kong Free Press: 19 August 2019

Hong Kong’s third generation of democracy fighters are not just rioters, they are last line of resistance.
Hong Kong Free Press: 28 July 2019

Being polite and respectful is not an indicator of how worthy Hongkongers’ causes are.
Hong Kong Free Press: 8 July 2019

July 1, 1997: When six million Hongkongers were handed over by their colonists to a totalitarian regime.
Hong Kong Free Press: 1 July 2019

Unelected Carrie Lam compares Hongkongers to children as a tactic to disenfranchise.
Hong Kong Free Press: 23 June 2019.

I Kept My Promise to Those Who Died
Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents p46
Reporters Without Borders: 2005 

Women Not Allowed and Girls Not Wanted
Popmatters: 07 Sep 2004

Why Just a Free Tibet? How About a Free China?
Popmatters: 20 Jul 2004

Born and Banned in China
Popmatters: 11 May 2004

Live Fast, Die Young. A night with the Street Racers.
BC Magazine: Feb 01, 2004

 

Hong Kong Fiction

Once, I saw an Elephant
Five on the Fifth: Dec 5 2019

Door
Cultural Weekly: Nov 7 2019

Falling
Gravel Mag: April 2019

 

Translations

At All Costs
#MadeofWaterHK: Nov 2019 


 

Highlights of The Old Fun Stuff 

Afternoon Tea with the Tai Tais (Advice Column)
renren.com, Feb 1997 - April 1998

Weekly Ten Hong Kong Trends.
hongkong.com: Jan - Dec 1996

Last Week in the Clubs
hongkong.com: Jan - Dec 1996

Weekly Horoscopes 
hongkong.com: Jan - Dec 1996

Mid-Autumn Festival Memories.
hongkong.com: June 10. 1996

Everything You Need to Know About the Leonid Meteor Showers 
hongkong,com: Nov 10 1996

Ten Things to Do If You're Trying to Avoid Valentines Day.
hongkong,com: Feb 10 1996

Calling the Shots on CD. 
SCMP: Feb 21, 1993. 
(My first ever published article -on Interactive CDs for consoles.) 

 

 


Tweets about My journey.

As I have discovered, I am as fascinated at the journey and process of writing my novel as the activity instead. I had wanted to write about it more, but simply working on the book itself has taken up all my time. But I tried to tweet about it, so I have a record. So here goes... I decided to post it here so I have a copy of it because it goes away into twitter world and lost forever. 

  • Jan 20th
  • I hate it when fact clashes w/ fiction. I either rewrite or use poetic licence. I probably rewrite because that's who I am. #amwriting

  • “I always start writing with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind.” - Patrick Dennis #amwriting #writingtips


  • Are you allowed to not be able to fall asleep because you want to cry for your character?


  • Sooo. I was very confident and happy with my book. HAPPY!  CONFIDENT! Suddenly the whole second half feels like it sucks. Why?
  • Jan 19
  • Wrote my 3000 wds synopsis. Interesting, what I thought powered the story was a very small part of it and only a mid-point
  • I asked 3 people who were 18 in 1997. Yes, some of them still wrote letters even if they had email. Phew.
  • Jan 17
  • Wait. What do you mean? I might finish chapter 4 today? I thought it would take weeks?
  • Jan 16
  • By 1997 did anyone still #write #letters? Especially 18 year olds? or was it all #email by then? #amwriting #history
  • Jan 16
  • Okay. Take in it's entirety my book isn't that dark. I feel less scared. #amwriting
  • Jan 16
  • Got the comment, "Read for 1.5h straight, as soon as I started I couldn't stop. I'm hooked, I want to read more!"
  • Jan 15
  • So 2nd draft of chpt 1 to 3 finished. Now looking at 4,5,6,7,8,9 & 10. Then 2 more drafts til sending to publisher. Lot of work
  • I keep wondering if the love story plus politics is a strange combination, but I decided I am writing for smart girls. That's it
  • Jan 14
  • My dad said, "You are writing for leisure and pleasure." I practically yelled, "No dad! I do it for art!!" It's lost on him
  • Jan 14
  • Chpt 2 & 3 sent to editor friend. 82 pages. Will try not write on the novel again until Saturday. Ha ha. Probably can't.
  • Jan 13
  • "extrapolate," must use word in book.
  • Jan 13
  • Strange to think, the period I am writing about, 20 years ago, I already knew I was going to write this book.
  • Jan 13
  • Sudden new pgs in chpt 3. My teen friend's bday, brought back memories. Used in book. Just flowed out.
  • Will I be able to take the reader with me all the way until the end?   
  • Chpt 2 sent. Chpt 3 finished, just need a quick rewrite tomorrow. Then probably a long while before chp 4, is done.
  • Jan 12
  • Asked pilot friend to read a paragraph on Kai Tak Airport. He said "It's great, but there was only 1 runway not 2" phew
  • Jan 11
  • I keep writing about after the book. I just found out 2 of the characters were friend all along. Oh now it's different again
  • Chpt 2. Second draft done. What if my editor and friend hates it? They both liked the first chapter. What if i disappoint them?
  • Jan 10
  • My characters just had a huge fight. Bringing up things from 17 years ago. What is thing called "writing?" Who are these people? 
  • Jan 10
  • Please stop writing 2nd book my dear character. I know u r just far sexier now you are older. But we need to get back to being 18
  • Jan 9
  • Second lots of comments: Minor adjustments, and wanting more detail. Otherwise "loved it, looking forward to reading more."
  • an 9
  • Just thinking...writing isn't really a nobel, especially these days. It feels like some form of mental illness.
  • Jan 8
  • #amwriting #novel I listen to "Everlong," "Walk," & "learn to fly" on repeat. I never found Dave Grohl attractive before, but he's beautiful
  • Jan 7
  • My book grabbed, held, pulled, & stood a lot. 26 to 40 instances. It sounds like a romance novel. Must remove some
  • I spent the whole day reading my book from beginning to end. It's a good book, I really believe that.
  • Had #Britain followed their own edict of the Atlantic Charter. #HongKong could be #independent long before 1997.

    Jan 7
  • I told my character to go away so someone else can talk, he refuses, taking over the 2nd book. The men in my life! Infuriating.
  • Jan 6
  • PLOT HOLE.. Damn
  • Jan 6
  • Twice now, an undeveloped side character has fought his way out into being a main one. This new one has his own book
  • Jan 6
  • Shit, shit, and shit, I just opened my file started my follow up novel because I figured out it's ending.
  • an 6
  • I rewrote the ending, while writing the epilogue accidentally started book 2. This may not be a good sign. I need a rest
  • Opened old draft of the book. Nov 21st. I can't believe how few pages there were. I have written a lot
  • I never planned my book to have subtext, turned out it was there. Completely unconscious.
  • I finally got my proper ending! It was sitting there not looked at, didn't quite know how to write it. It just came
  • Books has changed so much, I am shocked that some of the last part doesn't even work anymore
  • Son's art teacher said, "You have to trust yourself when to stop -it's easy to over paint." Note to self.
  • Jan 4
  • Librarian said "I like depressing books, it makes you feel something." I need to stop stressing mybook is too dark
  • Jan 4
  • Woke up. Still liking my book. I am fascinated by the emotions of this journey.
  • Jan 3
  • I don't hate Chapter one anymore. I put back the prologue which I was a mess. Now it makes sense. Resent to editor
  • Jan 3
  • My panic today was so minor compared to those who are arrested for writing & publishing. I am thankful for freedom of speech
  • Jan 3
  • Heartbreaking to write a book when Chinese gov't arrested booksellers in my hometown #respectfreedoms #amwriting http://www.france24.com/en/20160103-hong-kong-china-missing-booksellers-xi-jinping-publisher-causeway-bay-books-mighty-current …
  • Jan 3
  • Travesty, Chinese Communist can't help themselves but to oppress, abducting Hong Kong citizens for criticizing China
  • Hong Kong rocked by case of ‘missing booksellers’ -Breaks my heart that it's happening in my hometown
  • Procrastinating to the point I am writing "procrastinating" on twitter
  • Jan 3
  • Sitting outside #library. knew it was closed, came anyway. Feels comforting to be near "people" who hated their 2nd drafts too
  • The #novelwriting process is as horrible as all authors tell you it is.
  • hate everything I sent. Hate it. I see every creative mistake, bad choice of word & turn of phrase. I should not have reread.
  • I actually made half of my goal. I just finished Chapter 1. About to send to my lovely friend and capable edito
  • Finally finished chapter 1. Spent hours and days.. It turned out only to be 14 pages, and I am utterly convinced is really borin
  • Returning scene 1 after painfully deciding it had to go. These really feel like life and death decisions,
  • Jan 2
  • Dissolution: what a perfect word.
  • Did some character profiles, it works! It really helped with the minor characters! Gave me room to create new interactions.
  • Jan 2
  • Didn't make Chapter goal. Not even close. Too many changes. New goal: I don't care if no one likes it, as long as it's not crap.
  • Dec 31
  • Feeling extremely bitter I didn't notice scene 2 is a better opening before spending hours on scene 1
  • Dec 31
  • Starting on scene 2 makes a better opening, but i rewrote scene 1 about 3 times in 3 days. Kill my darlings
  • 31 Dec 2015
  • Why was I touched by that muse, yet with no promises I would excel beyond average and succeed in any way. http://glutter.typepad.com/glutter/2015/12/without-passions-there-would-be-no-books.html …
  • 30 Dec 2015
  • Breakthrough! asked what my book ws about I mumbled. Now I can say, "It's about love, friendship, family, a terrible lie"
  • 30 Dec 2015
  • Talking to friend abt the negatives of my passions. She replied, "But w/out ppl like you, there would be no books.
  • 29 Dec 2015
  • Love this too! Not everyone needs a passion or be creative. Us #artists #dancers #writers should acknowledge that..
  • 29 Dec 2015
  • Final Riddle to Being a Writer: Unexpected Loneliness of Writing a Novel
  • My Writing Mantras by Hemingway and Orwell. Its a process that every writer has to go through, even the be...
  • 27 Dec 2015
  • I spent 8 hours writing 2000 words, and this morning I realized a better way of doing the whole scene? Really?
  • 27 Dec 2015
  • Second Draft Rewrite. The Painstaking Sentences. #amwriting http://glutter.typepad.com/glutter/2015/12/second-draft-rewrite-the-painstaking-sentences-.html …
  • 18 Dec 2015
  • I can't believe it, I set out every scene, in order, ready for 2nd draft rewrite.
  • 16 Dec 2015
  • This may seem obvious. But turned out my local library is a really great place to write. #amwriting
  • 14 Dec 2015
  • I don't know how many hours, months or even years I need to put in http://glutter.typepad.com/glutter/2015/12/daunting-.html …
  • 14 Dec 2015
  • 14 hrs writing on the novel again today. Was supposed to be the day I took a break and worked on my blog. I need some balance
  • 12 Dec 2015
  • Is it possible for not work on the novel for a few days and concentrate on finishing posts on the blog? It's going to be hard
  • 9 Dec 2015
  • F... I had no idea my character was lying to me. Do I let her lie or go back and write down the truth from the beginning?
  • 9 Dec 2015
  • I am having a hard time killing my darling. I can't use that scene bc I don't need that character anymore. It physically hurts.
  • 9 Dec 2015
  • Today I start on the second draft. #amwriting
  • Starting Second Draft. No exhilaration, have to trudge through it. Writing is work. At times it's as dull as writing an analysis
  • 8 Dec 2015
  • Worked on character to soak up a bunch of spare thoughts floating around. Hoping the last two of them falls into place too
  • 8 Dec 2015
  • Writing a novel is so so hard. It's so much harder than I ever imagined. I think that's why I had to be this grown up to do it.
  • Turned out parties clouded by the end of colonization isn't as much fun to write when self reflection is involved. Sigh.
  • 8 Dec 2015
  • Can you tell me why, when you're 70,000 words into a novel there is still so much to write?
  • 22 Nov 2015
  • I colored in 6 complicated pages in my son's book
  • 22 Nov 2015
  • How do you know when you're actually done for the night or you need to push through for the next part?
  • 22 Nov 2015
  • Caught up. 14756 words today. 40001 words and 9999 to go. I am surprisingly pleased with this book.
  • 6 Nov 2015
  • At cafe: there are a lot of scrivener windows open. I wonder if we are participating in #NaNoWriMo2015 #NaNoWrMo
  • 6 Nov 2015
  • I wish I asked my grandmother more about food, when I interviewed her in 1991. What she liked, what people ate, what was sold. #NaNoWriMo
  • 6 Nov 2015
  • Transcribing an interview with my grandma in 1991 for #NaNoWriMo. She is talking about the Japanese invasion. They lived different lives.
  • 2 Nov 2015
  • Wow, this was not the novel I thought I was going to write at all. #NaNoWriMo
  • 1 Nov 2015
  • I am amazed how motivating and comforting it is to know thousands upon thousands of people are all writing at the same time. #NaNoWriMo
  • 1 Nov 2015
  • Word Count 909 #NaNoWriMo I will finish the other 700 in the day. Good night.
  • 1 Nov 2015
  • These formulas equals a number that has no mathematical significance, except the answer is the gravitation center of.... #NaNoWriMoOpeners
  • After trick or treating with the kids, I planned to write 1600 words for #NaNoWriMo I am at 316 after about an hr. This is going to be hard
  • 31 Oct 2015
  • I never wrote that book bc I didn't want to intrude on my friends with the memories, but we're 40 now. They might forgive me
  • 31 Oct 2015
  • I always wanted to write a book that was completely stream of consciousness, and went everywhere and talked about everything.
  • 31 Oct 2015
  • This book has been swirling around for years, each time it felt so raw. Maybe #nanowrimo can get it out of me in 30 days & I will be purged
  • 31 Oct 2015
  • I had no book, but a title came to me. Now I am afraid. I have to face my friend's OD, my grandparents moving and other memories
  • 30 Oct 2015
  • Had no plan to write a novel right now, but signed up to #NaNoWriMo Now I am dying to start! I will be good and wait until Nov.
  • 29 Oct 2015
  • Mentally signed onto #NaNoWriMo

It just takes that much work...

I was just looking at chapter, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. Then contemplating the two more rewrites. Then knowing my book is honest, intense and dark and I will be so exposed if it's ever published. Even though it's fiction, it's a world I created. I was having a moment. And then I saw this. If I want to write a really good book, that tells the truth, has an interesting heroine, which includes a good story, set in the time of my teens. I will just have to work this hard. That's it. I just have to do it. Even if it takes months, and lots of work.

Balletfeet


Nobody is Crowned to be Great before they Started Writing. Diary of Novel Writing..

No matter how many years I have wanted to do this, how long it's taken for me to have the stamina to sit still long enough, and having this sense of having failed myself because I hadn't become "a real writer," I still feel conflicted about  writing the book. It seemed somewhat of a futile obsession, it's perfectly possible that this would turn out to be a disaster with a perfectly quantifiable reason. I hadn't read enough books in my life, wasting it on Candy Crush, I am not knowledgeable about Greek mythology or post-colonial writers, or just too old to write about teenage years, and probably should have written this when I was young, and moved on to more sophisticated topics in my 40s. 

A publisher I met off hand told me, "You will have many moments," what I garner from that, is I would have many moments of doubt and discomfort, a never ending fear that this would would not be finished, and actually wanting to quit. I have many of these moments, nothing I cannot move past, as I realize, more importantly, even if I feel terrified at the prospects of whatever negative outcome of this book, I would feel much worse if I died feeling a failure. Not having done what I was born to do. 

So my new question is a matter of passions. How all consuming this need to create is, no matter what medium. I have done a lot of photography, ceramics, and the recently finished mosaic, all of which I did well at, and had I had the time, and that life didn't intrude, I would have made increasingly beautiful pieces, until I had enough of an exploration for an exhibition, and as I said before, life always got in the way. So I lamented at my friend, how this need of mine is just not that healthy nor useful, it makes me constantly question myself about whether I have done well enough, why had I not spent more time devoting myself to these projects, and never knowing if I reached my full potential, in fact knowing I had not. 

Therefore, maybe if it could all go away, I would have a much easier life, to live the very comfortable, fortunate life I have, and deal with only certain disappointments that I am by far not the only person to go through. Not everyone needs a passion, not everyone needs to create, and I am not sure how I was touched by that muse since I was a child, yet with no promises I would excel beyond average and succeed in any way. 

After she listened for a while, she nonchalantly leaned back, not as if she is about to say anything profound, nor anything that she had spent time thinking in order to placate me, she said it in an utterly non thoughtful way, not because she is thoughtless, but because it was simply obvious, "But without people like you, there would be no books." 

"Without people like me, there would be no books," I repeated, and the profundity of that simple sentence as it relates to me, I am still digesting. Every book to ever exist came from someone like me, not a special person crowned to be great before they sat down to write and she believed I am "one of those people."

I have never seen myself as part of that tradition before, more a strange creature that felt a little lost, because everyone else seemed to just go to work, look after their children, and have aspirations that did not include sitting in front of a computer or a piece of paper, to tell a story, spending years feeling inadequate because others have put out books, always feeling there was something on the list not done, and my son and his success and happiness is not my only focus in life. 

But I have found, that is fine, it is perfectly valid to want that, because the world needs thoughts, and colors, and intellect and conversations, and imagination, and sadness, and catharsis, and morals, and history and stories because people have always needed them, to transport them to and process the larger world around them. 

So there, that is my reason, I don't need to know why, I don't know need to know if my friend really did whisper his story to me, or I did this because I needed to understand what happened to him, or question if I have some mental illness to feel there are voices telling me to write down something for them, or just simply wonder how my imagination and brain creates stories in my mind and thoughts about the world that I feel important and want others to know. Those are not questions I have to ask. 

I just have to tell myself, over and over again, without people like me, who for whatever reason was touched by a muse at some point in their lives, there would be no books.

And that is not a world we should live in, so if I want to live in a world of books and stories, we need people to do it, and I just have to raise my hand, and volunteer. 

 

 

 


The Final Riddle to Being a Writer: Unexpected Loneliness of Writing a Novel

 

Writing is a singular activity, not in the way it's unique or exemplary but separate, by oneself, alone. This may be obvious to some, or intuitive for others, but for me, this drive I have had since I was a pre-teen to write didn't come with any concept of how lonely it would be to embark on a novel.

I have written for others before, but mostly online, in magazines, or in collections, each one published quickly, the response or lack thereof immediate. None had any pretension of art, or were something too meaningful, or trying to talk of a time and place I have waited a lifetime describe.

At first it was simple, I had joined NaNoWriMo with a solid goal of reaching 50,000 words in 30 days. It was a competition of sorts, an exercise to find out whether I could live up to the fantasy of being a novel writer. There were write-ins, events that people gathered to write next to each other. Maybe for some it was a feeling of community they hoped to acquire, but my experience, it was a place writers could gage what others were doing, how far they had gone, how many books they had written before and how many published. Of course, I cannot say what they were feeling, but I found people to be slightly suspicious and embarrassed when asked about their work. It wasn't a place to meet others to talk, but yet there were others to see, try and fail to have conversations with, witness fear in their eyes. Not only that, there were 100 of thousands of other people doing the same, and a website to watch as each region's word count were taken in, real time infographic of which place had the most prolific writers. Mainly, there were a lot of us. 

What I didn't expect was after the month, I did not have a novel on my hands, I had the very basic backbone of one. The website had emptied, no longer taking updates, abandoned like a ghost town because the reasons people were once there, is no longer. I hadn't found a single person I could go to the coffee shop post-Nano, and a hunch from the brief conversations I had with serial Nano participants, that the majority of people have shelved or given up on their projects because there was only so much time, because it was an intellectual exercise, because they didn't reach the word goal: they had been found out, they were not real writers, at least not until next year. 

There are of course people who are still writing, I just don't know where, or how many. 

So it means, I am alone. 

Writing.

This is not a complaint, this is a fact. 

I am under no illusion being able to sequester myself for days with no distractions is anything but a privilege. 

It's so tempting take a break, to call a friend, to make a plan, but that won't finish the book. To do that, I need to sit, write, even if I don't want to, putting words down, and slowly bulking up the novel, so it can expand like a rubber float filling with air until its full and stops (My version is a leather bound tome rubber float that whistles when it's squeezed).

And sitting here being lonely is how a novel is written.

So I just have to cope. 

Even George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway talked of it, and I suppose that's something all writers have to learn to deal with. Maybe this is the final riddle we have to answer, to stop feeling like an imposter, it's not the 50 000 words that makes you a writer, it's finishing the book even when it's so lonely. 


My Writing Mantras by Hemingway and Orwell

I have been struggling with the loneliness writing and hence spending hours by myself, but I try to think of these quotes whenever I have doubts, they are my mantras for finishing the novel, because whatever I am feeling is a process that every writer has to go through, even the best. 

 

 “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

"Why I Write" George Orwell

“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.....For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.”

Nobel Prize Speech, Ernest Hemingway 

 


Daunting.... -diary of novel writing...

I went to the library and took out some of my favorite books, I noticed how different they all were, but all had the same qualities. They took me somewhere else, and created a logical world within the covers, and the sentences flowed easily and each paragraph were compelling no matter where I picked up, I always wanted to know what came next even if I didn't know what came before. Looking at my book, I could see I have created a logical world, I feel my characters are compelling but my language simply isn't rich enough.

I feel it's so lacking comparatively. 

It's completely daunting, not because I don't think I could write like that, because I think I might, but I don't know how many hours, months or even years I need to put in before my book has as much texture and depth as these ones. I really don't know if I can get to the end. I have started projects before, and then something happens, SARS, getting sick, my son starting school, and a life change, and then I let it go, and leave it unfinished. I so often let life get in the way. 

And as much as I want to finish, I don't know whether I can keep up the momentum when the process has gone on for months on end.  Will I just spend less and less time on it, until it's shelved because my life would so full of other things to do, and I no longer have time or inclination for it? 

I do know that I have never gotten this far in the process for this particular book. I have tried to write it at least three times, but each time, I stopped because I felt it was too close to life, and I didn't want to talk about my friends, I just wanted to respect everyone's privacy. I also didn' t have the stamina or the maturity to write this much, I don't think. But this time, it's been so long since it happened, I don't remember the true stories anymore, I had to make a lot of it up. 

But this book is something I talked about even when I was a kid, "I am going to write about us one day," I would say. I am 65 000 words into the current novel, which are 200 plus printed pages, but I had written over 300 pages and 100 000 words over all. 

It feels like a good book, but it's a big book, with lots of characters, and stories. It's about kids in a difficult time in history, in a difficult time in their lives, but at the same time, so many beautiful memories were made, all that I am trying to capture. I never planned for the book to be this reaching, nor this dark, nor tell so many points of views about a political situation.

I had thought I could finish this book, or at least enough of it to send to publishers by March. I am still going to aim for that deadline, but I doubt very much I would be able to get it to a place I am happy with. Seeing how far this process might be in the future, I know that I cannot carry on with this much concentration, and this much time spent on a daily basis. I need to find balance and compartmentalize my life. Otherwise I will just simply burn out and have a messy apartment, unreturned phone calls, and forgotten responsibilities. 

I have no idea how to do that either. I spent so many years not knowing how to write a book, and didn't know where to start, and at this point, I don't know how to stop, or write in a way that allow my life to go smoothly. Such irony. 

 


The enlightening Plot Arc

I was curious what my book looked like if I made a plot arc.

As I feared/had a hunch there were a lot of problems with it when I looked at it this way.

There were stories in there that had no forward momentum.

And subplots randomly placed when no one knew the character..

Saved a backup copy, and got to redo timeline again and put new scenes in.

Last time I did that, I threw out all the hard work five days later because I decided I didn't want to write two parallel stories.

I could seriously change my mind, again in a week and all that hard work is gone.

I knew writing a novel is hard, but not this difficult. I really is a long process of trial and error..

The enlightening Plot Arc


Fake Fruit, Lies, and the Marlborough Man

Recently I have been thinking a lot about food. I started reading "Salt Sugar and Fat," by Michael Moss about the food industry.

The book is about how they work, how they lie to us, how they purposely create food that satisfies our greed and our primal instincts without a thought to our overall health.

Despite never trusting the label of "Made with REAL FRUIT," it still never occurred to me that could be used as an euphemism for "made with PURE SUGAR "

The food companies removes all the fiber and nutrients from fruit, reduce it down to fructose (which is about as healthy as corn syrup) and then add it to their products while claiming it's "made with real fruit." None of which has any vitamins, minerals or micronutrients found in fruit. 

These kinds of strategies were invented by the executives from the tobacco company "Philip Morris."

The company had bought up "Kraft" and "General Foods" in the mid-80s, fired a large number of those in the company, change the recipes, no longer paying attention to the ingredients or health, then used their cigarette marketing strategies to sell process food to children. Once the kids were conquered, they began to lead their parents to those brands. The parents bought it, the company grew and so it went. 

 

Marlborough Man has been telling kids what to eat for decades.

 

 


Rewriting after going to print.

Steve Lopez, the LA times columnist, was guest speaker at my journalism class. He told us he used to hand in his articles, go home and rewrite them on a typewriter, because he thought of a better way to say something, despite the piece had gone to print. I cannot express the relief I felt when I heard other people do that too. 

http://www.latimes.com/news/columnists/la-columnist-slopez,0,7768178.columnist


3 Minute Fiction: This Week's Favorite Released.

The first story of 3 Minute Fiction competition is up!! They post their favorites of the week online, every weekend, until the competition ends. 

This week is not mine unfortunately, but it’s very good. I liked that it had action and description. It never occurred to me that someone could move around -as my story was tied to a pay phone. 

I now completely understand what my painter friend said about “It’s not about who’s " best", it’s about what they are looking for.” 

At first I was concerned that they may be looking for a more genetic relational piece thus my originality superfluous. I also wondered if my story was a little too dark. But this story is very dark, and suspenseful. So I know they do like dark stories. But then I wonder if they like action orientated stories, if so, then mine will simply not be in the running, but if the judge is looking for a more emotional piece than I will have a chance.

All a matter of taste!

But no matter what, you should read this other entry.

 

“Hey Jimmy, it's Kevin. Pick up if you're there.

We just pulled up to your cabin.

What? Oh. Ellen says hi. Annie too, but she's sleeping in her car seat.

Anyway, it's pitch black. No lights on in the cabin. You said you'd leave the porch light on. Doesn't matter. I'm lighting up the porch with my headlights.

Thing is, it looks like your front door's open. I thought I should call in case it might be a problem.”

http://www.npr.org/2013/02/16/172121145/call-from-the-cabin