I’ve another short story accepted for publication, this time to The Kartika Review. Very rarely do I ever write anything that stems from being Asian-American. I’ve actually taken great strides to distance myself from that identity. I want to be known for writing great stories, not for writing great Asian stories. I think Nam Le sums up how I feel on the matter best:
My relationship with Vietnam is complex. For a long time I vowed I wouldn’t fall into writing ethnic stories, immigrant stories, etc. Then I realized that not only was I working against these expectations (market, self, literary, cultural), I was working against my kneejerk resistance to such expectations. How I see it now is no matter what or where I write about, I feel a responsibility to the subject matter. Not so much to get it right as to do it justice. Having personal history with a subject only complicates this — but not always, nor necessarily, in bad ways. I don’t completely understand my relationship to Vietnam as a writer.
I wrote this story after my girlfriend and I broke up (right around the time this blog was started). I was fairly distraught over the idea of suddenly being alone again and needed to write out my grief, sense of loss, and abrupt solitude. I didn’t want to do a break-up/divorce story (I seem to do those best when I’m not feeling like that). Somehow, the news article I read about a giant turtle from Vietnamese legend being discovered sick came into my mind and provided the backdrop for this story. I found myself writing about Vietnam for the first time in my life, but there was enough distance (and subtle amounts of fantasy) that I could do it without necessarily being very personal about the whole process.
The Kartika Review is a journal with a themed focus on the experience of Asian-American diaspora. Honestly, I could never write about my experience with that diaspora. It almost seems like whining. But I’m proud of what this story – originally very cathartic, raw, and super cheesy – has turned into. I’m happy and extraordinarily grateful to have it face the public. After, of course, the editor takes a knife to it. 🙂