My flash nonfiction piece, “Not Done with the World” appeared today in the New York Times. After a series of disappointments, setbacks, and heartbreaks for me these past two years in my writing career, this publication means so much to me.Read More
So, I just finished talking to one of the projects assistants on the phone and I’m happy, shocked, and (completely fucking) stoked to announce that my flash nonfiction piece “Lennon Wall” will be published in the New York Times in a few weeks in the Modern Love column for their Tiny Love Stories project.Read More
So, an editor that I deeply admire at a major imprint just started reading DREAM POP ORIGAMI, my experimental memoir about patchwork hapa identity, and of course my internal dialogue for the past week has been nothing but:Read More
Few things push plot lines as well as vengeance in drama and leveling up in RPGs, which is why Dishonored 2, despite its many flaws, integrates plot, adventure, and history effortlessly into a unified field, centering its narrative on the propulsive quest of assassination and personal redemption. Much like Victorian morality in the nineteenth century, this game is a Manichean fantasy world of good and evil.Read More
Only in a Japanese RPG can a boy band save the world from the nefarious empire and its demonic biotechnological army. In Final Fantasy XV, four male friends led by its visual kei leader, Noctis (whose name means “night” in Latin), use the empire’s language of violence to decolonize the kingdom of darkness. Somewhere, Fanon’s ghost is drinking sake and smoking Peace cigarettes in celebration.Read More
Today I got an email telling me that my personal essay, "When Words Make You Real," was accepted in the mixed-race anthology The Beiging of America, which is awesome. I'm happy, proud even, to be part of such a groundbreaking but also crucial anthology exploring what it means to be mixed race (in my case, hapa) in America.
There was a flower arrangement to our entrées, a harmony of light and darkness inside the dining room, a small ceremony for the chilled chickpeas and sun-dried tomatoes, crisp Arugula salads, haunting ginger slices and incinerating Thai soups, that was uniquely Japanese in spirit and decorRead More
I just got the awesome news today that my lyrical essay "Obāsan in a Cup," which is part of my experimental memoir Dream Pop Origami, was accepted in the always-awesome Guernica Magazine. Even more shocking, it will be published tomorrow. Many thanks to the smart, perceptive, and insightful suggestions from Raluca Albu, the CNF editor at Guernica. Stay tuned!
Remarkably, it's been ten fucking years since I've been back at AWP. The last time was in Atlanta in 2006, back when I was a confident, driven, ambitious, but also paradoxically naive, trusting, and hyperidealistic MFA student whose only aspiration at the time was to publish short stories and essays in the best literary journals possible. The idea of publishing novels was fundamentally foreign to me for the simple reason that I hadn't written a novel yet, nor a collection of short stories. There was no lofty expectation because there was no product.
Ten years later, I'm both amazed, horrified, and also humbled by how differently I look at the publishing industry in general and at my literary ambitions in particular. Unlike ten years ago, I have a bunch of stories and essays published in a number of legit literary journals, but it's no longer enough for me anymore. Also, unlike ten years ago, I have several manuscripts that are ready for publication. I have more than a few realistic publishing possibilities with several awesome indie presses (though they remain merely possibilities until those manuscripts become material objects of art for public consumption). I have--I always seem to have--several agents and a senior agent at a major New York publishing house reading my novels. I have two rad lecturer positions at UCI and CSUN teaching literature, writing, rhetoric, research, and creative writing. I have probably too many advanced degrees now, but whatevs. I have a network and a community of friends (many of them APIA writers, but certainly not all of them). I have some fans who follow me on Twitter because of the things I've written. Most importantly, I feel--possibly irrationally, possibly delusionally--that I finally have momemtum in my writing career. So, I apologize for this self-indulgent recollection, but the point I'm making here is that I see this conference in such a different way than I did before because I bring a different emotional and professional technology than before. I feel like I can almost touch my future, as absurd as that sounds.
Among other things I did at this year's AWP, I got to:
1. Attend readings from Claudia Rankine, Eula Biss, Jonathan Lethem, Geoff Dyer, Leslie Jamison, Maggie Nelson, my friend and mentor Percival Everett, Shonda Buchanan, Judy Grahn, Joyce Carol Oates, and Peter Ho Davies, which were all pretty amazing.
2. Attend a fascinating (and inditing!) panel by Adam Atkinson, Lillian Yvonne-Betram, and Sarah Vap (an SC student) that presented the results of its survey and data collection about race and racial representation within PhD programs in Creative Writing.
3. Talk to editors of several of my favorite indie presses and do a tiny bit of politicking (almost all of it unplanned and unintentional)
4. Make new writing friends and also do some networking (which never hurts in this business)
5. Most importantly, meet up with and reconnect with former professors and old friends from my MFA and PhD years, many of whom I haven't seen in years and whom I've missed, sometimes terribly, including Steve Tomasula, Marc Irwin, Joshua Bernstein, Chris Santiago, Lily Hoang, Gwendolyn Oxenham, Casey and Denise Hill, Heather Dundas, David St. John, and Percival Everett (who hugged me and then said, "What's going on, brother?")
6. Buy a shitload of books and literary journals from indie presses
7. Remember again why I'm a writer, a writer before I'm anything else in the professional and artistic domains
After a concentrated two weeks where LB and I saw both our families back to back, I'm finally getting back in the groove with my writing, revising, and submissions. And today I've realized that I'm going all out.
Recently, a bunch of my friends have been getting agents, then two-book contracts, thereby fundamentally changing their literary careers in the span of literally one year. A boy can only dream . . . Of course, because I'm human, I've been waiting by the phone too for the same phone call, waiting for the same miracle to magically transform my writing career into a solid object, but so far, I've been mostly stood up by publishing industry (literary journals have been much kinder to me). Agents are happy to tell me how talented I am, but their rejections are always about the fit. Truthfully, it's hard not to feel bad about yourself, especially when you stroll through the local bookstore and you see straight up shit on the coop. But I'm an eternal optimist, obviously delusional, and also very stubborn, so I'm not giving up. Not when I'm so close.
This leads me to the whole point I was making before I digressed earlier. Now that I'm back in action, I'm going all out, man. I'm submitting queries for NINJAS to a bunch of new agents soon (I'm still waiting to hear from three agents who are reading full manuscripts, but the longer time passes, the less hopeful I get). If Kaya rejects AMNESIA (they're taking their sweetass time, by the way), I'll send a query for it to fifty agents the next week. I just sent out several novella manuscripts to Plougshares and the Massachusetts Review. I'm also sending one of my best (and fave) short stories to several literary journals. Lastly, I'm sending my memoir to a few indie presses that I think would be a good fit aesthetically, conceptually, and structurally. Instead of staggering my submissions as I was forced to do during the school year, I'm now going full force. And that's not even including a screenplay I'll start revising/continuing this weekend about two bike messengers in DTLA.
And it don't stop . . .