Monthly Archives: May 2012

Marching orders

backlit daisies

There are a lot of new directives in my life these days, all to a good and healthy end. And so I thought to myself, if everything is on a timeline and I’m to be so disciplined, I’ve got to do the same with my novel manuscript.

Truth be told, I’ve been revising rewriting my novel-in-progress like it’s a day at the spa–with languid leisure. A page here, a page there. An occasional chapter. When I’ve come across a bump in plot or character, I let the mystery wash over me and then when the uncertainty became too uncomfortable, I’d go do something other than write, something other than stick to my chair and computer screen.

Writing has been a daily part of my life, but the great urgency I felt after my stroke (as only a brush with death can achieve) to finish a draft of my novel-in-progress, the very thing that got me to finish a draft, has been languishing for some time.

But I am now once again writing with exigency. Because I have to finish a major rewrite of this novel by the end of 2012. Because if I don’t finish a major rewrite, I’ll have deep regrets, and any discomfort I feel now as I navigate the interstitial spaces of my novel is going to be nowhere near the pain I’ll feel next year when I look at a half-finished novel revision.

I am the slowest writer I know. Writing with urgency for me means muscling through the pain and making a deep commitment to stick with my manuscript even if tomorrow is another day. It means I am still a slow writer. It does not mean writing two thousand words a day, because for me, five hundred words a day is a good writing day. But I know I can and will do it.

So I’m making it public: I’m finishing a major rewrite of this novel by year-end. That gives me about seven months, which I think is completely doable, even at my elephantine writing pace.


Filed under Novel, Revision, Writing

Becoming a Writer


When I was a little girl, I wanted to become a writer. Throughout the years, I wanted to be a doctor who wrote, a professor who wrote, and even a forest ranger who wrote, but the desire to make a writing life never ever abandoned me.

The only time I felt any peace or satisfaction as a teenager was when I was putting words down onto the page. And so I wrote. I wrote a lot, because I needed peace and I needed satisfaction and because I could not find it anywhere else. I wrote in the margins of my notebooks, and I wrote notes to my friends, and I wrote in the journal I carried with me at all times. I wrote my dreams, my fears, my complaints, my feelings, and all the things I felt I could not tell anyone.

Twenty years later, when I was recovering from my stroke and healing and reclaiming my memory, I wrote in my journal as therapy. My journal was my short term memory bank. It was my reassurance that I would “come back like Lance Armstrong.” I would write and write, and thus rebuild my neural pathways like muscles doing a particular movement in order to come back a better writer.

Writing has saved my life in so many ways. Writing enabled dreams, it heard my secrets, it gave me comfort, and it healed me.

I’ve thrown away many diaries and journals–at one point during my freshman year of college, I burned them all in a boyfriend’s fireplace, watching my secrets turn into smoke. I regret doing so, even though at the time I felt I absolutely needed to do just that. I felt I had to burn my past to move forward.

But there are a few journals that withstood time. I found my creative writing journals from the third grade. I was eight years old. It was 1981.


The very first entry was the first school writing assignment in which we had to write about our summer vacation. It cracks me up, because the basic imprint of the adult I would become is still there; having not read this in nearly three decades, I discovered that I hated waiting in lines even then.

Also, so much of what’s written is out of emulation–firstly, very apparent is the reasoning of my father, who actually asked us to have a strategy for which rides we rode and when, with the sole purpose of efficiency. If my dad had twelve kids, he’d be the Korean Cheaper By The Dozen Father.

My handwriting is also not my own just yet. It’s emulation of the standard cursive handwriting so many of us were taught back then (do they even teach cursive handwriting in school nowadays?). It’s nice to see the scaffolding of the person I’ve become.

“This summer I went to Disneyland. We went on Small World first because we knew that there was going to be a long line. Then went on the Submarine Voyage. There was a long line. We waited for a long time. And at last it was our turn. We saw lots of mermaids. And then we went on Skyway Fantasyland and the Monorail. The Monorail took us to the Disneyland Hotel and back. Then we went home. At home I put on myplayclothes. I played with my brother. I ate dinner. And then I went to sleep.”

And the next thing may have been my first piece of fiction. Or at least, my first recorded piece of fiction.


“Once there were four friends. Their names were Shorty the snail, Slow Poke the turtle, Fuzzy the duck, and Big Mouth the beaver. They were always helping. It started like this. One day Fuzz was taking a walk. Suddenly he slipped and fell in a pit. He yelled a lot and then at lat there was help. It was Big Mouth. He pulled Fuzzy out of the pit and thats why they helped a lot.”

Apparently, I had not yet been taught any comma rules.


Filed under Life, The Personal, Writing


sky from the plane

I left NYC, the center of the world. And now I feel like I’ve disappeared.

It’s an awful state of mind.

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Filed under Life, The Personal


traffic jam of children on a tree branch

This blog is still alive, really. Even though blogging in and of itself is a distraction, I’ve been distracted from my distraction these days (is that possible? Apparently, it is!). These have been happy days, but they’ve been eventful days and thus, the lack of blogging.

But I cannot let any of my distractions distract me from my main goal: I’m determined to finish a major revision on my novel by end of year this year.

I need to do it. I’m creating and integrating a new character into my novel; this new character is a young girl, someone I’ve found difficult to write, even though I’ve spent months and months daydreaming and conjuring her existence into my story. It’s time that I draw her in words. And bring her to life.

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