NaNoWriMo 2014 Almost Upon Us, Looking Back at NaNoWriMo 2013

Self has never signed up for NaNoWriMo (Also, she has never applied to UCross. Self’s just saying. Nothing against Wyoming. You know what? Right this very second, she’s going to apply for a residency to UCross!)

The New York Times Book Review she is reading is the one from Nov. 17, 2013 (Her pile of back-reading is HUMONGOUS! Simply HUMONGOUS!)

A little over a month ago, when self was cooling her heels in southern California, she looked over Fall course offerings for UCLA Extension and saw that there was a class offered on “Achieving Your NaNoWriMo Goal.” And she quickly contacted the Program Administrator to indicate that she wished to enroll. She was informed that the class was “on-site.” And ya know, that’s 10 weeks of weekly on-site meetings, and self can’t commit to being in one place for 10 weeks. Seriously! So she regretfully had to pass up taking the class.

Here’s an excerpt from the article on NaNoWriMo 2013 which was in the Nov. 17, 2013 NYTBR:

We’re now past the halfway point of National Novel Writing Month — or, as it’s inelegantly shortened online, NaNoWriMo — when aspiring authors aim to produce 50,000 words during November. More than 277,000 writers signed up for the sprint this year. Erin Morgenstern, whose best-selling novel The Night Circus originated as part of the exercise, once advised: “Don’t delete anything. Just keep writing. And if you don’t want to look at it, change the font to white.”

Excellent advise! How does one register for NaNoWriMo 2014?

Stay tuned.

 

 

Foolish Things

  • As a result of dropping by the Robert Frank exhibit at the Cantor Art Center on the Stanford Campus yesterday, self got it into her head that she would very much like to own a Leica.
  • After leaving the Robert Frank exhibit, self fully intended to go to Aquarius in Palo Alto and watch Rory Kennedy’s “Last Days in Vietnam.” But she did not.  Instead, after filling up with gas, she went home.  And today — alas! — that film is no longer showing.
  • Self hasn’t looked at her story “The Peacock.”  Not once.  Not since it was workshopped at Squaw. She has no idea what to do with that story. It just sits there, like a lump on a log. Taking up space in her computer. In her store of unfulfilled projects. She wanted it to be a memoir about her and Dear Departed Sister-in-Law Ying. She wanted it to be desperate and lonely, the voice of a soul lost in the Cambodian wilderness after failing to connect with the splendor that is Angkor Wat (Dear blog readers, do you know that there’s a RAFFLES HOTEL IN SIEM REAP???)
  • Self has wanted to replace the desert of the front lawn with trees — perhaps olive trees — to screen her house from the busy street. But she’s remained staring at that patch of bare, weed-choked dirt for 10 years. It sounds really lame to keep bringing up the drought.

Ugh, ugh, girl. Why can’t you just do? Why must you always be re-hashing the old, or rehearsing for the future? To what end?

How quickly you forget: just yesterday, you got word from Witness that a piece you sent them eight months ago is going to be in their Translation issue.

As for somehow missing “Last Days in Vietnam,” “Gone, Girl” is showing in the Redwood City Century 20 and she heard from a friend who read the book that it’s actually pretty good. Self is not a Ben Affleck fan — seems he is pretty much a control freak with his wife, and no doubt he took care to present himself in the best possible light in this new role — but what the heck? Maybe she just wasn’t in the mood for another hard-hitting documentary yesterday, maybe she should just try and ignite a new respect for Ben Affleck? She did like “Argo” a lot. He’s not a bad director.

And if she’d managed to watch “Last Days in Vietnam” yesterday, she would have missed seeing the San Francisco Giants’ nail-biting victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. She would have missed seeing the way the two teams went head to head all the way to the 9th inning. She would have missed that sweet, game-ending homer.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Silence is your treasure”

Self is reminded of this again when she reads Diane Gilliam’s essay on “Working in Silence,” on A Room of Her Own Foundation’s website.

The full quote is:  Silence is your treasure.  Do not exchange it for an easy life.

Walking to Annenberg from Littlefield, you pass this meadow. Self doesn't know the name of the artist who made this sculpture, but right in front of the Cummings Art Building is a Henry Moore.

Walking to Annenberg from Littlefield, you pass this meadow. Self doesn’t know the name of the artist who made this sculpture, but right in front of the Cummings Art Building is a Henry Moore.

Last night, self found herself back in Stanford.  Self enjoyed the walk through the still campus.  She remembers thinking:  How quiet it is here.  How peaceful.  And that’s what Stanford gave her:  four years of peace.  Two years in the East Asian Studies Program, with a concentration in Chinese, two years as a Creative Writing Program Fellow.  What an unimaginable luxury.

Self originally meant this post to be about the Rolling Stones.  Specifically, the Rolling Stones as they were in 1972, when Robert Frank made the documentary “Cxxxxsucker Blues” (Self blushes to admit that the x’s are her own.  The early 1970s were still the 1960s. What self means by that is that drug use was still rampant, and so was free love. And Mick wore velvet jumpsuits spangled with sequins and looked vaguely reminiscent of Elvis, only much thinner).  They showed it in Annenberg, last night. Amazingly, the theater was packed, even though at that very moment, the San Francisco Giants were facing off against the Saint Louis Cardinals.

Frankly, it was just painful to see the way women were treated in this movie (like pieces of meat — yes, exactly. Thank you Jennifer Lawrence or whoever): they were either in bed or shooting up or sewing. Yes, sewing.

With one exception:  Bianca Jagger. Who was in no way a groupie. Who Mick treated with affection.

Thank God for Bianca Jagger.

The album “Exile on Main Street” was self’s first ever Rolling Stones album. And the Robert Frank documentary was about the 1972 tour for that album. If for nothing else, self had to see the documentary.

And Mick had this amazing, amazing diffidence (Keith Richards had it too, to a lesser degree). At one point, he stares straight at the camera (presumably being held by Robert Frank) and says, casually contemptuous, “Fuck you.” And it’s not as if Frank caught him in an intimate moment, either.  He’s just standing there, and he decides to turn his head, look at Frank, and without his face changing expression, says “Fuck you.”

Now, that’s a moment.

And now, before self gets too carried away with this post, she needs to get moving. She realizes she hasn’t even connected the dots between the quote “Silence is your treasure” to the Stones documentary.

But, ta-ta, dear ones! To be continued.

“The Seeker of Buried Treasure” : A Piece About General Yamashita

This piece appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of Our Own Voice,  a magazine of the Filipino diaspora.

There’s a legend about General Yamashita, who the U.S. held accountable for war crimes in the World War II occupation of the Philippines.  Yamashita was executed shortly after the war, after a brief trial.

They say he stashed away bars of gold bullion, and treasure hunters have been trying to find the riches ever since.

Self suddenly recalled this piece after listening to Joanne Diaz, a poet, whose reading in Moe’s Books self attended last night, along with Jay D and Lillian H, who belong to her fabulous writing group.

Joanne Diaz is an AWESOME reader. Self bought the two collections that were on sale last night:  My Favorite Tyrants (which won the 2014 Brittingham Prize in Poetry), and The Lessons.

“The Seeker of Buried Treasure”

He was a shaman. Oh, something very old.

Like the turtle you forgot about that grew to 10 times its size in your mother’s garden.

My uncle looked for the gold bars, you know.

Under the old fort.

Why would they be there?  Why would General Yamashita leave them behind? Underneath an old fort in Manila?

Tell me where I can find it, the treasure that the Tiger of Malaya stole, the gold Buddha, the bullion.

You remember.

The necklaces of diamonds and jade . . .

The rest of self’s piece can be found here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 19 No. 2 (The West Coast & Beyond Issue)

The latest in a series of issues focusing on “Place.” Crab Orchard Review initiated the series in 2009, at a time when, according to the Editors’ Prologue, Vol. 19 No. 2, it seemed that the magazine might go under.

The “Land of Lincoln: Writing From and About Illinois” issue became the first series on place because Carolyn Alessio, Crab Orchard Review’s Prose Editor, was born “in the Chicago suburbs and lives in the city itself today.” The issue focused on two of Chicago’s literary greats, Carl Sandberg and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Next followed “Old & New: Re-Visions of the American South.”

At that point, everyone was very aware that Crab Orchard Review was approaching its 20th year.  So the editors decided to make the review’s 2012, 2013 and 2014 “special issues into a kind of anthology exploring the United States of America and its regions as a subject.”

The series developed into four issues: “Old & New: Re-Visions of the American South,” “the North,” “Prairies, Plains, Mountains, Deserts” and, finally, “The West Coast & Beyond” (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawai’i, the Commonwealth countries, territories and areas of U.S. occupation)

Now, in this “final edition in the series,” the editors point out that they have managed to “include at least one story, poem, or essay about, or work by an author born in or living in every one of the fifteen states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.”

Here’s an excerpt from a poem by one of the writers in the issue, April Christiansen.  Her poem is “The Great Seattle Fire, June 6, 1889″:

Shouts, pitched water, the surface glazed,
boiled over. Glue embers tumbled into shavings
littering a turpentine-soaked floor, and men
grabbed their coats, flew to the stairwell as flames

fastened themselves to the building’s walls,
inching towards the liquor warehouse next door.
Glass shattered, the crisp smell of burnt alcohol and paint
filled the sidewalks, and a crowd gathered.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

White Whale Review

This evening, self decides to re-visit some of the literary journals who’ve solicited and published her work.

There is a reason why, on this blog, self begins to list her publications only starting from 2007: that was the year when she began getting published again.

Yes indeed, dear blog readers:  Just because one has two books under one’s belt is no guarantee of your survival as a writer. And for a period of several years, self received not one single acceptance.

But she hung on.  For which, thank God.

In the meantime, while she was suffering through the acute discomfort of many-years-not-getting-published, she started a blog. This blog. She was writing, but purely for entertainment. Slowly, editors began to write her, leaving comments on the blog.

And that’s how she came to be published in White Whale Review. One of the editors contacted her.  Her story, “Dumaguete,” appeared in Issue 1.2

It’s been a while since she dropped by; she decides to visit this evening, and finds out, Holy Cow, they’re now on Issue 6.2.

So they did not fold.

It’s almost a miracle.

Busy Bee

Self is extremely, extremely happy this morning. She was able to wheedle a reading date from her local library for Manila Noir, an anthology that Akashic published last year, and for which she has never given a reading.

She’s only one of — ehem — 15 Filipino writers in the book, it was edited by Superstar Jessica Hagedorn, she loves the pieces in it to bits. Why has she never read for it in her own neck of the woods?  OMG, why?

She wrote a brand new story, just for the anthology. Yup, one winter holiday, almost three years ago, La Hagedorn requested a story from self, and after wringing her hands for nearly a month, and subjecting herself to all sorts of angsty emo feelings, self ended the pity party, grit her teeth, addressed the problem (which had been hovering over her head, a veritable Sword of Damocles, making her incapable of performing even the simplest holiday tasks, such as setting up the Christmas tree) and that very same day, she came up with a story. Turned it in. Got quick thumbs up from Hagedorn. Became pride-ful and slothful. Told the world of her inclusion in said anthology. Crowed about her triumph in her little corner of the world, and then waited for — NOTHING. Everyone in the Philippines and Asia and even the continental U.S. of A. read the anthology, but her story was sandwiched between such greats that no one seemed to have time to comment on it. Nevertheless, nevertheless . . .

She did manage to get Lysley Tenorio (a fellow alum from Stanford’s Creative Writing Program, he teaches at Saint Mary’s in Moraga) to agree to read with her. Quite a feat, as the guy’s got a big agent, a big publisher, and he agreed to make the trek to REDWOOD CITY. And besides, self isn’t sure whether she still can read, it’s been a while. So it is good if Lysley reads with her, for he is an excellent reader. And not only that, he is affable and very used to signing author copies.

Now, since self is so energized, she is thinking of contacting other places, such as Books, Inc. in Town & Country. Hello, they already carry it; she’s seen it there, in their Mystery section. So, what’s the problem, self? What’s taking you so long? Get off your couch and who says you can’t? Get yourself over to Book Passage, while you’re at it.

Johanna Ingalls, Managing Editor of Akashic Books.  She's holding up MANILA NOIR: Self is one of the contributors.

Johanna Ingalls, Managing Editor of Akashic Books, at the 2013 Miami International Book Festival, holding up MANILA NOIR: Self is one of the contributors.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

In Progress

Self worked on these stories today:

  • The Mountain Dog
  • The Hole

Why, she wonders, does she keep churning out short stories, when she really ought to be concentrating on a novel, since that is more liable to capture the attention of literary agents and/or big mainstream publishers?

Nevertheless, self is proud about today’s accomplishments.

Both stories were begun ages ago. Suddenly, today, self knew exactly what each story was missing. She had put up the framework, but she didn’t know the story. Not until today.

Go for it go for it go for it

Life is short, the journey long.

Stay tuned.

Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia: “The Heart of the World”

The cover of Colin Poole's TONLE SAP, The Heart of Cambodia's Natural Heritage (Thailand:  River Books, 2005)

The cover of Colin Poole’s TONLE SAP, The Heart of Cambodia’s Natural Heritage (Thailand: River Books, 2005)

In 2004, self and her sister-in-law, Ying, took a trip to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. We stayed in a house ($10/day for a room, including meals) and hired a driver.

The monument was crawling with tourists. One morning, desperate, self and Ying awoke at 4 a.m. and had the driver bring us to the temples. Across the giant causeway, which was barely light, we saw at least a hundred photographers, cameras pointed at the horizon, waiting for the first rays of the sun to appear. It was very dispiriting.

The thing self remembers most from the trip is not the temples. It was Tonle Sap Lake. Self and Ying hired a boat and threaded our way through the floating villages.

In 2008, Ying passed away in Tel Aviv. Self saw her for the last time a couple of months before. Her eyes were so sad.

Self’s story, “The Peacock,” is about that trip to Cambodia. She’s never been able to get it published, but she keeps trying.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Available Now: Your Impossible Voice, Issue 5

Today self heard from the editors of Your Impossible Voice that Issue No. 5 is out!

YAY!

The story they took is “The Elephant.” Self actually sent if from Cork, Ireland. It was the morning she was transferring from Ballyvolane House to Café Paradiso. You know, self just fell in love with Cork and wishes she had stayed there an extra week.

But, back to Your Impossible Voice and “The Elephant.” It is actually quite a disturbing story, but it is what it is. Here’s an excerpt:

For over a week, the elephant’s wild thrashings sent reverberations throughout the ship. It threw itself against the walls of its container, again and again. Sea monsters, the crew awoke thinking. We’re all going to die!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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