Writing of the Day: The MC’s Sister Writes a Letter

What self is doing, she does not know. She just keeps tossing off letter after letter. Like, not only does she accept the throwdown of writing about 18th century Philippines, she has to make the whole thing epistolary!

Anyhoo, this section’s fresh as fresh, as she made the whole thing up about an hour ago. Thoughts?

You wrote that it is useless to appeal to the Bishop in Manila, for he cares more for “musk, civet, and pearls” than for his priests, which necessitates your appealing to Spain. And the Governor General is no better, you say, for he “struts about in the richest of silks and brocades”. If this individual were to somehow present to me at this very moment, I would demand that he be strung up from the highest gibbet. For are these things you have requested not proper and necessary for any human being, never mind those who are representatives of the Church and our country?

I am inclined to write a letter to the King himself, to inform him of what is truly going on in the islands, for He may well not know. Oh, to what lengths are we driven to serve both Our God and Our Lord!

Your loving sister,

Dorotea

In so many previous drafts (maybe the 1st to the 10th draft), Dorotea was the MC’s (secret) love interest, but self was unable to keep up the tension after the MC left for his mission in the Philippines, so she decided to turn Dorotea into his sister. There was more to the letter (e.g. curses to the English etc for occupying the islands, which they did for two years, in the early 1760s. They ultimately decided that the country didn’t have enough gold or silver to justify them staying.)

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

Self Answered The Call

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And the results are out now.

Read. Read. Read.

Thank you forever, Lillian Howan, for soliciting a piece.

 

 

Work-in-Progress, First Draft

“Your Holiness,” Matias said, trying to mask his excitement by imbuing his voice with a tone of the most abject humility. “You have not yet informed me where I am to be assigned.”

The Bishop acted as if he was surprised, but he was not; he had left this piece of information for the last, deliberately.

“Do you know the island called Isla del Fuego?” the Bishop asked.

Matias’s throat contracted. “I do know it,” he answered, carefully. “I believe the natives call it by another name.”

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Self’s novel-in-progress, Blue Water, Distant Shores, is 340 pages of conversations between the Bishop and Matias. And between Matias and his native guide, Diego. Oh, and a few letters. That is all.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday Reads: A. O. Scott Film Review

Excerpt from A. O. Scott review of Adina Pintilie’s semi-documentary Touch Me Not (The New York Times, Friday, 11 January 2019), which self really wants to see:

Bodies Are a Wonderland (Entry Restricted)

Propelled by intuition, emotion and philosophical inquiry rather than by plot, Pintile’s debut feature is a semidocumentary essay exploring what it means — how it feels, why it matters — to dwell inside a body. You could say that what the film is about lies just beyond the reach of images or words. It’s a necessarily cerebral meditation on the nature of physicality.

The director’s initial verbal reticence contrasts with both the eloquence of some of her characters and subjects and the explicitness of the images she captures. Nakedness and intimacy — the first almost too easy to achieve, the second almost impossibly difficult — are the basic themes of Touch Me Not.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Excerpt: First Causes (Quarterly West # 89)

Yesterday, someone on Twitter posted a question to the Asian American writing community: share your 2018 achievements. Self’s response began with: “I am an experimental science fiction writer.” Which she’s sure had people scratching their heads.

To explain what she meant by “experimental science fiction writer”, here’s an excerpt from a story that Quarterly West published in Issue #89. The story takes place in a classroom of the future. The narrator is a boy named Dragon who is NOT a dragon. The professor, who really IS turning into a lizard, is named Fire Lizard. The other characters are Drinker, Knot, and Big. Big’s just gone missing.

Drinker says, low, “Big passed.”

I answer: “Fucker. Big’s not Big. He’s Big XXX. Mark it.” I slash three quick XXX’s across my screen. Knot looks to the side quickly, then glances down.

“The All-Powerful, the Everlasting,” I start to sing, lowly.

Drinker shudders, pulls slightly out of his seat.

“You!” Fire Lizard screams, pointing at Drinker. “What’s your issue?”

“Obscure,” Drinker mutters.

Fire Lizard’s eyes seem to bug out of his head. “Who remembers rain?” he shouts. “Last rain? Who remembers?”

I hold up my hand. “Ghost of,” I say. “243 days since.”

Self would like to take this opportunity to express her gratitude to Quarterly West for taking a chance and accepting this story. It’s wild, it’s crazy, it’s not easy to understand. But did she ever have fun writing it.

Stay tuned.

New for the Reading List: The Economist Books, 12 May 2018

  1. The latest from Rachel Cusk: Kudos (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle series is mentioned in the review: self has been wanting to read Knausgaard. Hopefully, someday.
  2. Eye of the Shoal: A Fishwatcher’s Guide to Life, the Ocean and Everything, by Helen Scales (Bloomsbury Sigma). Scales’s earlier book, about seashells, is Spirals in Time.
  3. Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo, by Zora Neale Hurston: written in 1927, finally out in print!!! (Amistad)

In Honor of Independent Bookstore Day 28 April 2018: Poet Anne-Adele Wight Lists Her Favorites

What a universe of riches is contained in a writer’s list of recommended books. This is the second article self has posted in honor of Independent Bookstore Day 2018. Everyone who wants to do something special for the day, take a look at Anne-Adele’s books below, then go to your nearest independent bookstore and inquire if they have a copy in-store. If they don’t, ask them to order. It only takes a few days!

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T-Shirt Features a Quote from Shakespeare: “These violent delights have violent ends.”

Anne-Adele Wight is the author of the poetry collections The Age of Greenhouses, Sidestep Catapult and Opera House Arterial, which she describes as “a surreal trickster mythology.” An interview of her can be found on her publisher’s website: BlazeVOX. Her background includes literature, archaeology, and technical communication. She performs widely and has sponsored many events in her home city of Philadelphia.

Here is how she explains the genesis of Opera House Arterial:

In 1983 a friend showed me a postcard she’d received from Quito, Ecuador, the home of a well-known nineteenth-century opera house, El Teatro Nacional. The postcard showed the opera house as something etheral, not quite connected to the ground, because a row of buildings hid the lowest part. Behind it the Andes rose high into the air, looking unearthly. I felt something strike into my brain and know I had to write a poem, but where to begin? I put the opera house aside for many years; it finally surfaced when it was ready. I realized I had not one poem, but many, and started writing. Before long I had a book, Opera House Arterial, and a mythical character, my trickster opera house.

Without further ado, Anne-Adele’s list of recommended books:

 POETRY
  • Sandra Beasley, Count the Waves
  • Sarah Blake, Let’s Not Live on Earth
  • Travis Cebula and Sarah Suzor, After the Fox
  • CAConrad, While Standing in Line for Death
  • Lucas de Lima, Wetland
  • Ryan Eckes, Valu-Plus
  • Lisa A. Flowers, diatomhero: religious poems
  • Geoffrey Gatza, A Dog Lost in the Brick City of Outlawed Trees
  • Sueyeun Juliette Lee, Solar Maximum
  • Lynn Levin,  Miss Plastique
  • Jane Lewty, In One Form to Find Another
  • Jenn McCreary, Ab Ovo
  • MaryAnn L. Miller, Cures for Hysteria
  • Debrah Morkun, Projection Machine
  • Eileen Myles, I Must Be Living Twice
  • Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué, Jazzercise is a Language
  • Raquel Salas Rivera, lo tercario / tertiary
  • Amy Small-McKinney, Walking toward Cranes
  • Nicole Steinberg, Glass Actress
  • Brian Teare, The Empty Form Goes All the Way to Heaven
  • Divya Victor, Things to Do with Your Mouth
  • Anne Waldman, Manatee / Humanity

FICTION

  • Isabel Allende, Daughter of Fortune
  • Ann Arensberg, Incubus
  • Margaret Atwood, Moral Disorder
  • Margaret Atwood, Stone Mattress
  • Robertson Davies, The Deptford Trilogy
  • Margaret Drabble, The Red Queen
  • Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness
  • Doris Lessing, The Grandmothers
  • Eileen Myles, Chelsea Girls
  • Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
  • Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight
  • Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Manor
  • Jacqueline Woodson, Another Brooklyn
  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
  • Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

NONFICTION & GENRE-DEFYING

  • Atul Gawande, Mortal
  • David Harrison, The Last Speakers: A Quest to Save the World’s Most Endangered Languages
  • Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs
  • Gina Kolata, Flu
  • Jon Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven
  • Kelcey Parker Ervick, The Bitter Life of Božena Němcova
  • Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  • Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Now, get on over to your local independent bookstore!

Stay tuned.

 

#amwritingflash

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Announcing Bellingham Review’s 7th Annual On-line Issue

The story Bellingham Review published, “Ice,” is part of a dystopian fantasy series.

Read it here.

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Cottage # 2, Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig: November 2017

 

 

#amwriting: The Hill of Storms

The ghost of Dolly the sheep and three dun-polled cows grazed the storm-torn bracken.

From that day the King of France was never troubled by visits from the lands of dark-skinned peoples.

__________________

This is one of those stories where every other line is italicized because there are two interlocking threads.

An experiment, for sure!

Stay tuned.

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