Fellow C&R Press author Xu Xi and I at the private press reading party
My first AWP has come and gone. It was a pretty wild ride and absolutely wonderful to see old friends and meet new ones. The advanced copies of Meditations on the Mother Tongue sold out on Saturday afternoon. And the Friday night reading was a blast! I was truly blown away by the talent and skill of the other authors and am honored to be among their company.
I also now understand what everyone means when they say the interactions at AWP can be very awkward. It’s a little weird when you know someone either through their work or some other means first (they published you, or you have social media interactions) and you’re all suddenly in a place together. I think you expect to be really comfortable with them already, but you aren’t because you technically just met, and the dichotomy is a little unsettling at first. Plus there’s the frequency of just being star-struck by these legends whom you have admired for many years. But it was all very fun and it made me really feel like this book can make some waves.
It’s been a long time–as always–since my last update here, but I’m happy to share that I’m in the latest issue of the Southern Humanities Review. The cover is beautiful and the issue is elegantly laid out and typeset. I have to say a huge word of thanks to former managing editor Chantel Acevedo for accepting the piece, and to current fiction editor Aaron Alford for all of his support with this story. There’s even an excerpt of it on the website, which you can read here.
In other news: I’ve been working really hard on this novel-in-progress, having written over 150 new pages this past summer alone. The draft is nearing completion (I think) and I can’t wait to get into the editing process. But it may be a long time coming, and I’m impatient. We shall see.
I also have some other short work forthcoming, so keep an eye out!
I’m happy to report that my story, ‘The Grinning Man’, published by Eclectica Magazine, has made the cut. Please go check it out and, if you are so inclined, place a vote through this GoogleDocs Form. I’d greatly appreciate it!
Thanks to the judges! And Eclectica’s editors Tom Dooley and Anne Leigh Parrish!
Also, in other news, the Sententia Books website has been redesigned, and my short story–one of the favourites I’ve produced–“Conversations with the Rest of the World” has been put up online. Thanks to Paula Bomer and Adam Robinson for allowing me to share this story with the world, and in so many different mediums!
I probably should’ve posted up last week, since I’m guest editor for SmokeLong Quarterly from August 11th through August 17th. Yes, those dates are over with now and I’ve a queue of pieces to read through and select from. I didn’t post up because I happened to fall under the weather with a pretty nasty cold and fever, and still had to take care of my day-job responsibilities. I did announce it on Facebook and Twitter though, so if you submitted during this period, thanks! I’ve already read some promising pieces and expect to find some real gems in the queue.
I’ve definitely been in a bit of a creative rut lately, second-guessing myself and feeling all-around uninspired. I suppose this happens to the best of us and I’m just going to try to exercise a lot of patience. We all fear that fire inside of us going out, but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. Something will occur in life that I won’t be able to ignore, and words will aggregate again. Patience.
In the mean time, I’ve been hard at work trying to finish up this MFA business, particularly with this craft paper. I’ve been reading Kirstin Chen’s Soy Sauce for Beginners and find the novel absolutely riveting. Check it out, if you’re itching to add another book to your To-Read stack.
I’m ecstatic to announce that I’ve just had a story accepted to Gargoyle Magazine. Like my piece in Big Lucks, this will run in 2014, so it’s a ways out, but all the same I am honoured to have my work appear in such a fabulous publication with such a deep local history. The story, titled “The Message of My Skin,” is one of the more honest pieces I’ve written. It takes place in the neighbourhood that I grew up in–coincidentally the neighbourhood Gargoyle is based out of and which I more or less still live in–and discusses Vietnamese crime in the Washington, DC area. I am humbled.
So the year 2013 is somewhat lacking, though I have done much revision in the past seven months. I think this thing will go in waves of creativity and then re-working, so I’m going to not let myself become too anxious about my dried up well of creative energy right now. I’m happy to know that I’ve secured some publications in 2014 and that they are two very different stories. Compared to my earlier published work, I think that my range is growing and my voice is becoming clearer. Very happy for that.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written an entry in this blog. I’d love to say that I’ve been a busy bee, toiling away at the arduous labour that is the writer’s life, but that’s not exactly accurate. In the past few months, I’ve only managed to produce two additional short stories and most of a third.
What I have been doing:
Founding and curating a new reading series in Arlington, VA … it’s coming great and we’ve got quite the season booked for this summer. More details to come.
Going to other readings … I’ve had the pleasure of seeing one of my new favourite writers — Marie-Helene Bertino — read from her novel-in-progress along with Elliott Holt, Scott McClanahan, Sara Rose Etter, Matthew Salesses, Laura van den Berg and so so soooo many other great writers. This is the kind of thing I live for.
I have a review / recommendation for Ms. Bertino’s debut collection, Safe as Houses, forthcoming at TheLitPub (it’s REAAAALLY good)
A short story is forthcoming in Big Lucks — huge thanks to Michael Beeman, Mark Cugini and Chris Molnar for featuring my work!
Reading and other schoolwork
So it has been actually fairly busy. There’ve also been this huge debates internally about whether or not to move. For now, I’m staying put.
I have a more personal anecdote to share, but I’ll reserve those thoughts for another time when I can devote more to it.
I wanted to avoid posting this until I had the issue in my hands, and now I am happy to share that I’ve been published in The Carolina Quarterly’s winter issue! This is the first non-fiction piece I’ve ever written and recounts a tale from my childhood years. The essay is titled “Redshift.” Check it out at the NewPages webstore!
I am deeply grateful to the Carolina Quarterly and Non-Fiction Editor Nick Anderman for accepting my piece. Not only that, but–as you can see–I’m excerpted on the cover. I’m also the excerpt for CQ’s TellItSlant submission page! Humbly honoured.