What an up-and-down few weeks it’s been. A chronological-ish list of recent things:
—— I bought an AlphaSmart to help me with more focused drafting. It is my new favorite thing and I’ve named it Lyra:
—— I found out all of the AWP 2017 panels I was pitched for got accepted! But each participant is only allowed to be on two panels max, so I had to drop out of one. Here are the ones I’ll be doing:
The first panel: The Book of Your Heart: Ignoring Market Trends and Writing the Novel Most Connected to You. The description is: “How would you define the Book of Your Heart? Can there be only one? What happens when you put your heart on the page for an audience of young readers? Five YA authors at various stages in their careers will read from and speak about the novels they felt most personally connected to, published or not yet published. Discussion will explore ignoring market trends, facing publishing struggles, making use of real-life inspiration, and the aftermath, including reviews and writing something new.” My fellow panelists are Nova Ren Suma, Brandy Colbert, Bennett Madison, and Amy Reed.
The second panel: So You’re a Writer Looking For a Publishing Day Job. This one was a proposal I drafted. The description: “It’s hard to pay the bills with your writing alone, so now you’re hunting for that perfect desk job that will surround you with what you love best: words and fellow readers. But what are the routes you can take to land said job? And will it benefit your writing? A diverse group of writers with backgrounds from various aspects of the publishing business — and a mix of conventional and unconventional ways of getting into those roles — discuss their experiences and concerns.” I’m doing this one with Sona Charaipotra, Eric Smith, Rhoda Belleza, and Linda Camacho.
—— Last week I lost a friend from college. He was very important to me, and his death was an awful shock. The last time I saw him was when he surprised me by showing up for my wedding…it was just about two years ago. In recent years we’ve been separated by land and sea, and like what happens with so many friendships, our connection faded a bit. So I’ve been overwhelmed by a bad mix of emotions. Grief, of course. Nostalgia, remembering the way things once were. A lot of regret. Anger at myself for not being as good a friend as I wish I had been — as good a friend as he was to me. And panic, accompanied by the pressing need to see the people I love while they’re still alive.
—— My research for this novel revision is getting intense. My favorite parts of it are the long conversations spent asking my family questions about things like temple rituals and Taiwanese superstitions and going to the market. I’m thrilled to be actually going to Taiwan very soon, and I’ve planned my trip around the specific things I need to write about.
—— A nice thing: I backed the Litographs Kickstarter and ordered a custom scarf printed with the draft of my novel that we sold early this year. The scarf just arrived, and it looks pretty awesome:
—— Aaaaand yes. Revisions. I had been hoping for and trying so hard to work toward a huge breakthrough, but then realized that instead of one big epiphany, I’ve been hitting upon a lot of mini breakthroughs. Which are crucial. Those add up. I just wasn’t appreciating them because none of them were the One Giant Magic Fix I had been waiting for. But sometimes that’s just how it goes. A few days after I had this realization and made my peace with it, I hit four really major breakthroughs in one day.
—— …And then three days after that, I sank right back down real low and felt like my novel was absolute trash again. This writer thing really does sometimes feel like it’s a mood disorder. So this rocky pit of doubt is where I’m stuck at the moment. I’m trying hard to push past this feeling and stay productive. My best friend made a good point when I told her I felt like I’d ruined my novel: “It’s just mid-surgery. You look at a human mid-surgery, you’d think they’re messed up for good too.”
—— I’ve been doing a ton of physical therapy to fix several problems in my body. There’s some strange hip weakness on one side, and one patella isn’t tracking correctly in its groove, just to name a couple things, so every week I’ve been carving out precious time to go and rehab all these issues. I’ve dealt with the knee pain for a year, but with all this PT the pain is actually starting to go away. So I’m thrilled, even if PT is exhausting and I’m eager to get back to my regular yoga practice.
—— Speaking of yoga. This week I began teaching a vinyasa class at New York Sports Club, which is very exciting and fun. I’m thrilled to have a big weekly class at a gym — it’s definitely a different experience from teaching at studios.
—— And let’s end on an extra good note. In a week and a half Loren and I are celebrating our two-year anniversary. Every day I wake up and think how lucky I am to have him. He painted this beautiful picture based on a photo of us getting out of a cab on our wedding day: