Gearing up

13 06 2010

Sorry I’ve been so absent, but work has been super-busy lately, and I anticipated that my writing life on all levels would fall off during this hectic time. But I was okay with that because I have two writing workshops coming up: next week at VONA in San Francisco, and next month in San Antonio when I head to Sandra Cisneros’ Macondo Workshop to study with one of my old professors from Cal, Carla Trujillo. I’m really excited about both workshops and looking forward to talking about writing, being around my writing buddies and meeting new ones, and just immersing myself in my literary world and leaving my everyday work-world behind for a few weeks.

Of course, my ultimate goal is to merge these two worlds more fully, and I’ve taken a few steps in that direction, but still have a ways to go. I did get one of my short stories placed in a publication recently—and, even more exciting, will be getting paid for it too!—but I’m hesitant to say where just yet since things in the literary world can be a bit unsure at times. Like the fact that I never got any copies of one of the anthologies in which one of my non-fiction pieces was recently published.

In any case, I’ve got a lot of reading to do in the coming few weeks, and will be doing a fair amount of writing too, I’m sure. Will try to blog during the workshops and fill you in on what’s going on.


I Miss Writing

23 05 2010

It’s true, I’ve been spending a lot of time writing—but for work, not my own creative writing. I have to admit that I am one of the lucky writers who’s not completely broke all the time, or who can actually still work on my grammatical and technical writing ‘chops’ and get paid to do so (I do fundraising consulting which entails a fair amount of writing), but I really miss spending more time on my creative writing. Fiction, non-fiction, even poetry (which I rarely try my hand at, but when I do, it’s pretty fun).

This blog helps fulfill my craving a little, and I have been working on a new short story for a friend’s online publication, but I miss the days when I had more time to sit and write, or think about writing, or read whatever I felt like reading. Ironically, I don’t think I really valued those days when I did have them—of course, when I had days in a row with little paid consulting work I mostly goofed off or cleaned my house rather than write—so now the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak. I am planning to go on a short writing retreat soon—not sure where, but I just know I have to get out of Dodge and away from the distractions of the city, my apartment and everyday life and get some solid hours of writing in.

But even this craving is a sign of progress to me, because when I was working full-time 9-to-5 I could go for months without writing and it didn’t really bother me all too much. Now, writing has become more of a habit, a good habit that I don’t want to break. I started this blog and my other blog to help keep me writing, to keep me accountable to my own writing goals, and I’m glad I did. I still don’t blog as much as I’d like to at times, but it’s nice to know that these blogs are here for me to just scribble (or type, I guess!) a few words and thoughts and send them out to the world with a click of my trackpad.

Still, though, I miss my fiction writing, and when I’ve sat down lately (like I did the other day with my friend A. at a cafe) and work on a story, I feel a different part of my brain, my consciousness come alive. And I like that feeling. A lot.

Getting ‘Lost’

19 05 2010

I’ve been getting lost on a few levels—lost in work, which has been keeping me from my writing (but I’ll be going to writing workshops this summer so that’s what I’m banking on)—and lost in ‘Lost’. Not because I’m a huge fan of the show (I’m not, although I do find it entertaining and intriguing, especially as a writer), but my husband is obsessed with the show, so much so that during the 9 o’clock hour on Tuesday night, I am not allowed to talk to him except during commercial breaks. (I am not, unfortunately, kidding)

Ironically, my husband owes me, and my writing, for his entree into the world of ‘Lost’, since we only started watching it a few years ago on the recommendation of my writing teacher at VONA one summer, Chris Abani. I was writing a fantasy/speculative fiction novel at the time, which got critiqued in Chris’ workshop, and Chris told me I should watch ‘Lost’, because “a lot of weird shit happens” in it. That phrase could probably sum up lost in a nutshell.

As a writer, I’m fascinated with the complicated structure and plotlines that the show’s writers and creators have crafted, and wondering how they’re going to wrap it all up in the season finale. I’m also hoping that ‘Lost’ doesn’t end the way Battlestar Galactica did, with more than a whimper than a bang. The last couple episodes explaining Joshua and the Smoke Man/Man in Black’s backstory and thus the story of the island’s power have been a bit cheesy and disappointing, but I’ll watch it until the end and keep my hopes up.


7 05 2010

Being a writer can be damned lonely. Maybe I’m feeling this way right now in particular because I just found out that one of my ‘Uncles’ (a family friend that I grew up with as a little girl) just passed away yesterday, and that his funeral is tomorrow, and I got the message about it on my cell phone voicemail. And that I’m sitting here alone, and feeling sad and isolated from my family (whom I have a very difficult relationship with), and wishing on some level that things were different.

And then, I thought, let me write about this. Because writing is the one thing I can do when I’m feeling lonely that sometimes—not always—but sometimes, makes me feel a little less so.

Which is ironic, because writing is a very lonely act. I think that’s why when we get together with each other—especially when we find a group of writers we like and vibe with—it’s like we can’t get enough of each other. That’s what happened a couple weeks ago after the reading I did with a few other writing buddies from last year’s VONA workshop for writers of color. Five of us read at a local cafe to a small but attentive audience, and then we proceeded to head out to a nearby restaurant/bar to hang out, eat, talk writing, laugh a ton, and just be.

It felt good, warm and right to be there with them. We don’t hang out all the time—I hadn’t seen one of them in almost a year—but we share a bond as writers that I don’t find with other people, even other artists. And these moments of connection with other writers can do a lot to assuage the intense loneliess I sometimes feel when it’s just me, here, at my laptop, at home alone or even in a cafe surrounded by a sea of strangers, typing away, trying to articulate something that dwells deep inside my psyche—and sometimes succeeding, oftentimes failing.

I think this loneliness factor—that the act of writing by its very nature is a solitary act—is what spooks a lot of people about writing. I was at my dentist earlier today getting my teeth cleaned, and talking about my writing and other work, and he said, “Well, it’s a gift, isn’t it? Not a lot of people can write.” I wanted to say, “Well, they can, it’s just that they choose not to.” But I decided to just nod and let him stick metal instruments into my mouth.

Sometimes—I would say maybe 30% of the time—the loneliness and the solitary nature of writing doesn’t bother me. At these times, in fact, I enjoy it. The loneliness becomes a blanket of serenity, giving me the quiet stillness that allows me to really listen to my mind, to let the images in my head flow out of me, to allow my consciousness to pick up on the subtleties of language and meaning that otherwise get drowned out by the quotidian distractions of modern life. At these times I guess I’m able to transform or distill the loneliness into concentration—and the result is often decent, if not good, writing, and a full feeling of satisfaction which motivates me, ultimately, to keep writing during those times when the loneliness just feels shitty and well, lonely.

But right now, I’m remembering Uncle Tito, and allowing the loneliness to wash through me, and letting it work for me by writing about it here. And maybe you, a writer yourself or an aspiring writer or just someone who likes to read about writers, will feel a little less lonely because you’re reading this.

Or maybe not, and that’s all right too.

Writing Workshops Comin’ Up

5 05 2010

Despite the fact that I have so little time to write creatively right now because of work overload (but hey, I gotta make my money somehow!), I have to find some time to work on the manuscripts I need to turn in soon for VONA. I just found out that I got into the Advanced Fiction workshop with Mat Johnson, but didn’t hear back about Week Two, for which I applied to Chris Abani’s workshop as my first choice and Tananarive Due’s workshop as my second choice. (Incidentally, I just finished Due’s modern-day vampire novel My Soul to Keep. I already turned in my manuscript for the Macondo workshop on revision that I’m signed up for with Carla Trujillo, who was one of my professors at Cal long, long ago when I was just an idealistic youngster.

I’m looking forward to having two, if not three weeks’ worth of ‘writing time’ to hang out with my literary buddies, talk about writing, critique each others’ work and generally cavort about town and have fun. I’ve never been to San Antonio either (or Texas at all for that matter) so I’m looking forward to doing a lil’ traveling this summer.

Keeping my fingers crossed that I get into a VONA Week Two workshop…wish me luck!

(No) Time to Write

24 04 2010

You can probably guess from my absence on this blog that I’ve been busy with other things. Unfortunately, they have not been writing-related. On the other hand, my fundraising consulting business is thriving, which will help me take off three weeks this summer for writing workshops and retreats. So it’s a blessing for my writing that I’m so busy thusfar.

But this brings me back to a question that a lot of people I know who want to write but have intense, 40+hours a week jobs ask me often: “How do I find time to write?” I answered that question in an earlier post, and I find myself turning to that post now to remind me that, even though I haven’t had time to write more than a couple blog posts and journal entries over the past few weeks, I am still a writer, and I will find the time to write when I need to.

For example, I have two deadlines coming up in May that I’m setting out to meet, one for this Visions 2042 project: Notes toward a Racial Order Transformed, and another for fiction deadline, a web site that features content about sharing as a path to sustainability. I don’t know yet if my super-packed work schedule over the next few weeks will allow me to meet them, but I’m going to try my hardest and do my best.

And that’s pretty much all one can be expected to do. If we all tried our best most of the time with most of the things we do, I think the world would be a much better place.

Reading on April 24 in Oakland

17 04 2010

I’ve been so busy with consulting work that I’ve neglected to promote this reading I’m doing next Saturday, April 24 at 7pm at Woody’s Cafe in Oakland, not far from my house. I’ll be reading with fellow alums of the VONA 2009 fiction workshop with Junot Diaz. The other folks who will be reading their work are Gessy Alvarez, Alison Cross, Miguel Jimenez and Roopa Ramamoorthi. Not sure yet what I’m going to read, but I promise I’ll entertain you. Should be a fun time, so stop by.