Now For One of Self’s: “The Lost Language”

This was published many years ago, in a magazine called Isotope.

Published in Utah and edited by a poet, Chris Cokinos.

It joined together two things: science writing and creative writing.

You would find, in the same issue, a play by a physicist, a nature essay, a poem by a mathematician. That sort of thing.

Self loved it.

Chris Cokinos, what are you doing now? Know that self considered Isotope a very noble experiment.

Here’s an excerpt from the story they published, which became the title of her third collection. It’s one of those hybrid things: part essay, part memoir, part myth, part short story.

The Lost Language

Filipinos once had an ancient written language. If I were to show you what the marks look like on a piece of paper, they would look like a series of waves. Or like Egyptian hieroglyphics. Like the eye of the Pharaoh I saw in my old high school history books.

The language was written on tree bark. Epics were probably written in this language, but I don’t know what they are. My ancestors are shadowy people. Shadows.

When I was a little girl, perhaps eight years old or so, my mother gave me a book of Philippine legends. The legends were mostly about beautiful maidens and enchanted animals. But the story I liked best was about Hari sa Bukid, which means King of the Mountain.

Read the rest of this entry »

What the Writing Desk Looks Like Today, 20 March 2017

DSCN1136

Niall Leavy Brochure from a 2009 Exhibit Called “Inner Light”; copy of self’s book Mayor of the Roses: Stories, Miami University Press

Niall was here last year. Saw his work at Open Studio at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre.

At the opposite end of the table, self’s book from Miami University Press (There’s another story collection that came after this one: The Lost Language. Self’s Dearest Mum gave copies to all her friends as a Christmas present, but painstakingly tore out all the stories she didn’t like, lol)

You will notice that today the writing table is square. That’s because there are two of them in her unit, and she switches back and forth between them, depending on her need for the scissors, lol

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Depth 5: About Self’s Attachment to Books

Books, for self, are the ultimate uncharted territory.

The depth of her love for books knows no bounds.

She was running low on her copies of Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila and Going Home to a Landscape: Writings by Filipinas, but her publisher sent a box of those to Mendocino last week and they arrived safely.

Two other books: Mayor of the Roses and The Lost Language, are in Gallery Bookshop on Main Street. Those copies she signed.

Self ordered more copies of her books. They arrived from the publisher last week.

Self ordered more copies of her books. They arrived from the publisher last week.

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino: A shelf in the science fiction section (BATTLE ROYALE meets LORD OF THE RINGS)

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino: A shelf in the science fiction section (BATTLE ROYALE meets LORD OF THE RINGS)

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Memoir, Just Because

At that time, I had a very old car that was ready to give up the ghost. I wanted to win something, something big. I was tired of living off garlic fried rice and scrambled eggs, which was the only food I could afford for a long time, when I was new to America.

— the title piece of self’s collection, published in the Philippines by Anvil: The Lost Language

White Whale Review 1.2

Sometime in this literary magazine’s infancy, the editor contacted self (through this blog) and solicited a short story.

The issue was 1.2

Now, the magazine is in its sixth year.

The story self submitted to them was “Dumaguete.”  Here’s an excerpt:

His mother had taken him to the green campus of Silliman University, and there, among the tall, old acacia trees, they’d stumbled across a small museum that held shells and various voodoo paraphernalia from the small island just offshore, Siquijor. From the city’s seaside promenade, one could just discern the faint outline of the island. All day, outriggers plied the distance between the large and small island, ferrying shell vendours and curious tourists to and fro.  Carlos had heard numerous stories of this fabled place, but his mother showed no inclination to go there.

Intrigued? Want to read the rest of it? Go here.

“Dumaguete” is in self’s third story collection, The Lost Language (which is only available in the Philippines).

Self has been to that island, just off Dumaguete.  At least three times.

DSCN4154

Stay tuned.

Another Day at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Anaghmakkerig, Another Irish Writer Discovered

The writer today is David Park.  Here’s a short bio:

Oranges From Spain, a volume of short stories, set against the background of the Troubles, was first published in the 1980s.  Since then, David Park has written five novels:  The Healing, The Rye Man, Stone Kingdoms, The Big Snow, and Swallowing the Sun.  A teacher, he lives in County Down with his wife Alberta and their two children.

Park was interviewed in Netting the Flow, “the first anthology of work by members of the Comber Reading and Creative Writing Group.”

Which of your books gave you the most satisfaction to write?

I don’t often dwell on past books and I never go back to them after they’re written.  There is an element of fear in this because I’m probably frightened that they’ll disappoint me and when they’re out in the world it’s too late to call them back to try and remedy real or imagined imperfections.  This feeling of apprehension is both a positive and a negative because it’s the constant dissatisfaction that acts as the spur to try and try again.  So when I’m asked about favourite books, the truth is that there are only books that dissatisfy me less than others.

Speaking of favorite books, self brought copies of two of her collections —  Mayor of the Roses and The Lost Language — with her on this trip.  One copy of The Lost Language went to Joan McGavin (the 2014 Hampshire Poet) and her husband, who so patiently put self up, when she first arrived in the UK.  She’d never been to Southampton before; Joan met self at the station and then took self to see a play staged in Her Majesty’s Prison in Winchester, in which all of the male roles were acted by prison inmates, and the female roles by students in the University of Winchester.  (This would never have happened in the States, let her tell ya.  They’d be too worried about the young women rehearsing with inmates.)  It was a very excellent play.  Set in World War I, about conscientious objectors and how they were reviled.

She’s managed to give away all her copies except one, her last copy of Mayor of the Roses.  She offered poet Csilla Today a choice of which of self’s collections she wanted to trade her poetry collection for, and she picked The Lost Language.  Interesting choice!  Then self went into her usual disclaimer, telling Csilla the stories were rather “dark.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Lists, January 2013 Edition

The most number of years between visits to Manila:  5

The longest self has ever stayed in Manila since she left for grad school:  4 months

How long it took her to see Ground Zero after 9/11:  7 months

The number of years it took her to produce her one 9/11 story:  8 years

The number of pages in her 9/11 story:  4 pages

The number of pages in Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila:  100

The number of pages in Mayor of the Roses, her second collection:  181

The number of pages in The Lost Language, her third collection:  153

The number of pages in her novella, Jenalyn, out this month from Vagabondage Press:  80

The number of years it took for her to complete her fourth collection, Magellan’s Mirror:  4

The number of years it took her to find the right ending for “Silence,” the story that was shortlisted for the O. Henry Literature Prize:  3

Total number of years she spent in Stanford as a grad student, first in East Asian Studies and then in English with a concentration in Creative Writing:  4

Number of books she read in 2012:  39

Number of books she read in 2011:  44

The longest period of time between checks of Facebook:  a few hours

The number of times she has been to Corregidor:  2

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

JENALYN, Self’s First Novella, Downloadable Now: Only $2.99 per Download!

And here’s the link, dear blog readers!

It’s very experimental storytelling.

And it’s available FREE for a very limited time  (NOT!  You waited too long!  Now you have to pay $2.99!)

If anyone is interested in reviewing Jenalyn or The Lost Language (more about this collection, below), please contact self so that she can send you review copies!

*     *     *     *

And here’s something else:  Because The Lost Language, self’s third collection of short stories, was published by a Philippine press, Anvil, it hasn’t been readily available here in the States.  Self has told many people that, if they should chance to be in the Philippines, they should drop by their local National Bookstore or Powerbooks and pick up a copy there.  That, or have a visiting relative bring over a copy.

But self has just discovered that Linda Nietes of Philippine Expressions (L.A.-based long-time purveyor of Filipiniana) gets a monthly shipment of books from the Philippines, so if you want a copy, all you need to do is e-mail her at:

linda@philippineexpressions.com

She has a Paypal account.

When self’s first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, was published, it was Linda Nietes who organized the launch in L.A.  And she has done the same for untold numbers of Filipino and Filipino American writers.  Really, self cannot thank her enough!

Stay tuned.

You Asked For It, You Got It!

More answers for the “Next Big Thing” Meme (Apologies for being two days late!)

Question # 7:  How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Self has two current book projects:  a short story collection called Magellan’s Mirror, and a novel (her first!) called The Vanquished.

The title story of the short story collection Magellan’s Mirror —  self began that story sometime in 2009 (A handful go as far back as 2006).  The other stories are mostly since that period.  The draft will never be finished.  Until the manuscript gets accepted by a publisher, self will just keep working and adding and revising.  So, let’s say the collection gets picked up in 2015, and self gets to answer this question again:  At that point, she can say, “Six years.” But until then, who knows?

As for The Vanquished —  she started the book with the events that are now in Chapter 2.  That was sometime 2009 as well.  Whoa!  That was truly a watershed year for self, writing-wise!  2009 was also the year Anvil brought out The Lost Language.  It was a year after self’s sister-in-law, Ying, passed away.  Whenever someone in self’s family dies, it just lights a fire under self.  It’s how she “deals” —  with anything hurtful.  By writing.  So, bring on the hurt, World!

About Ying:  She was so proud of self’s writing.  Self got a lot of inspiration from her.  Self wrote a story called “The Peacock,” about a trip she and Ying took to Angkor Wat.  It’s so far not published, but that story is largely about the time she and Ying were in Siem Reap.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Story

This story is a story of return, or perhaps of many returnings.

Can she write this story?  She wants to; it exhausts her.

It is not a story about revenge (though, to be completely honest, there’s a little of that, too.  That, and anger.  Yes, those feelings are always in self, even in each and every bite of a crumbly piyaya)

Strangely, it also turned into a story about becoming American, about a person who knows her rights and doesn’t have to kowtow to anyone.

As an American, self returned to this island and to Bacolod, her father’s hometown.  She saw the wonder of the people (who she thought were the kindest people in the whole world, especially after self experienced the grief of her Manila family).  She made it her purpose to traverse every inch of this island, and to treat her experiences with the same respect with which a museum curator treats a priceless artifact.

Emotions —  ah, emotions.  They directed her gaze, always.

In her latest message, self’s Burmese friend Kyi says “people in Rangoon imported a lot of flowers from the Philippines, including the double bougainvillea Million Dollar.”  What a fantastic name for a flower!  Self has never seen a bougainvillea with that name, certainly not in California.  And she is suddenly reminded that she has, growing in her Redwood City backyard, a bougainvillea “Purple Queen” that she managed to coax to life after six months of anxious coddling, and was just starting to flower when she left for Bacolod, in early October.

She loves this island.  Her eyes ache, just to look at it.  Her room looks out over the rooftops of Bacolod.  Her gaze always ends at the sea.  There was where the ships came:  first, pirates.  Then, Spanish missionaries.  Then, French engineers.  Then, American soldiers.  Followed, at last, by the Japanese Imperial Army.

Like son, self loves the sea.  Or water of any kind.

In self’s room, she now has five copies of The Lost Language.  She bought them at National Bookstore in Greenbelt One.  She has never given a reading in Bacolod, not in all her years of being a writer, and wonders if she ever will.  Here’s a passage from a story in the collection, “Dust”:

It was sunny, a glorious day.  April was sometimes cold, but Jocelyn thought she could sense summer coming, just around the corner.

The girl who clipped them, that afternoon in April, was just 18.  Driving her red Ford Mustang at a speed that was just short of criminal, she’d gotten her driver’s license only that month.

The Ford Explorer rolled over and over and over —  for almost two years she kept seeing the image.  It would flash into her mind, often just before she lay her head down to sleep.  Then she had to get up and pace the bedroom, or take two Ambien if there was something important she wanted to do the next day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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