New Start & September Anticipations

If this is scattered (more so than usual) it’s because of 1) slight stress headache due I think to 2) EXCITEMENT because I’ve been told to watch out for a DHL delivery today–it’s a present and I’m pretty sure it’s an iPad!!!

But I’m telling myself it may not be, no point looking up apps/getting excited. There are lots of things that qualify as a ‘portal to new experiences’… it could be concert tickets, tarot cards, an umbrella…

No, I mustn’t speculate. Must wait & see. Must stay calm and have lunch first…

I haven’t been writing regularly here since all the excitement of last year’s AWARE takeover partly because there hasn’t been anything big and public I wanted to focus on and all my little issues/doings/happenings get aired on Facebook; and partly because I was taken aback by some of the comments I got on those pieces–fundies who send ALL CAPS rants in bad English and links to Pastor Prince sermons–but I realise that even with my morning pages (on the wonderful 750 Words site) I miss this blog.

I miss the accountability. Thanks to the Artist’s Way Journey I’ve been taking (we’re on Week 10 now) I’m going to miss this group so much when the journey is over!
Of course it’s possible we’ll all stay in touch but that won’t be the same as knowing we’re all working on the same chapters week by week all over the world.

(Sorry, I know it’s a lot of links for one post but these are places I’ve been en route to here!)

Thanks to The Artist’s Way Journey and the books & experiences it’s led me to explore I’ve become more aware of the incredible energy, blessings & synchronicity surrounding me now. I want some kind of record for myself that can also serve as a general route guide.

Like I find I walk more when I wear a pedometer & set a target I hope I’ll be more focused in my reading and writing and yoga practice if I write about where I hope to be going in these areas. Setting goals helps define them so at least I know what I’m trying to do!

Reading is on my current list thanks largely to Steve Leveen for pointing out 1) We each have individual ‘great’ books lists 2) Don’t waste your time on books you don’t connect with–there’s so much great writing out there waiting for you 3) With all the great writing and so little time it’s a huge waste not to plan what we want to read/love to read.

He may not have meant to say those things in his book The Little Guide to Your Well Read Life but that’s what I got out of it and according to him that’s what counts!

Another book that’s inspired me to try this is Nick Hornby’s Housekeeping vs The Dirt, a chronicle of fourteen months of reading which starts each chapter/month with Books Bought: and Books Read. Haven’t finished it yet but I’m enjoying the read so far. It’s tremendously freeing to feel I don’t ‘Have’ to finish what I start reading if it doesn’t work for me at the time.

I’m hoping to post twice a month: Once in the first week and once in the final week.

September Intentions:
1. Finish corkboarding the mystery novel on Scrivener. I’m switching from first person to third person which means rewriting it completely, also cutting it down from 70,000 ++ words to 50,000 words. For a while I thought ‘no way’ I can do that in 3 months but that was exactly when ‘Creative U-turns’ came up in TAW and it could have been addressed directly at me. I’m going to practice the process and keep going till I’m stopped–this time I won’t stop myself. I’m also reminding myself that a publisher giving rewrite suggestions is a very GOOD sign and actually once I got over the panic most of the suggestions are very very good. It’s due at the end of the year so if I manage to put down a structure I’m happy with I think I can make it. In September I hope to put down at least 15,000 words.

2) Children’s Book. Why not? I wrote 2 for SPCA (they’re only taking one) so when I heard about the NBDCS children’s book competition I thought–why not? It will be an interesting experience. I’m targeting 40,000 words for this. In September I hope to finish the outline & roughly 12.000 words.

3) Yoga. Back at yoga after so long I realise how limp wimp I’ve become! But I’ve cut myself down to doing part of Primary Series at least twice, ideally three times a week. September goal: Back to doing Full Primary Series three times a week

4) Reading: I’ve just discovered the world of audiobooks but don’t want to give up reading paper just yet so… first step is to finish the Nick Hornby and the Artist’s Way course and then I’ll see. I have 4 library books and Swan Thieves and I feel like rereading stuff after surprising myself by enjoying The Scarlet Pimpernel so much…

5) Travel: Going to Paris for just over a week–hoping to try art journaling the trip. If that doesn’t work out just mean to enjoy it.

6) Blogging–mean to get back on the page for my September round up!

February!

Start of new month & new week & (slow start to) new day.

January was a great month but last Saturday I got upset by Bian Chan’s fatuous piece on Salinger in the Straits Times. Not sure if he’s an idiot or he just interviewed a bunch of idiots but the piece comes across as saying that Salinger is too ‘quintessentially American’ to impact Singaporeans though Catcher was the required reading of pretentious wannabe intellectuals who now admit it doesn’t do anything for them.

To quote Gwee Li Siu (whose FB rant I only saw after I calmed down–somewhat)

Can I take this chance to say how shocked I am with ST Life!’s way of compiling responses? It’s one thing to include varying opinions on Salinger; it’s another to include people who clearly DIDN’T read his books and have an opinion!

He puts it better than I do. In fact just reading what he wrote calmed me down and now I’m going to put it behind me.

But first I just want to say though that ‘red hot rage’ doesn’t describe it for me. What I felt was more like an icy cold rage—lightheaded, dizzy and seeing light shards.

I’ve learned two things from this:

1) The Glass family was ‘my’ family for years.
I don’t think I would have survived adolescence without J D Salinger’s written assurance that I wasn’t the only one feeling like the only one.

Thanks, Li Siu, for doing the same thing for me on Saturday.

2) Road rage. I never understood it till now. I’m a happy driver. Someone rear-ended me at a light once & we ended up chatting about my old school which his wife & daughter were both from (yes, he paid for the damage).
But on Saturday after reading the article I was ready to smash the writer’s face in/gouge his eyes out/choke him on his scrotum.

No, it doesn’t make sense at all I know that now.

But still, I’m going to make February a good month for me by staying away from the ST Life section!

Ivan Heng & The Abomination…

So very happy!

Talked to Ivan last night, he likes The Abomination of the Blue Hibiscus and agreed to read an excerpt with me at Books Actually–Ivan, I love you love you love you!!

& if we get carried away we may read excerpts from the other stories in the book, Year’s Best Lesbian Fiction 2008 too!

Reading will be at:

Books Actually (the official bookshop for Singapore Writers’ Festival 2009!)
86 Club Street (they are moving today–12th Oct)
Saturday, 31st October, 4pm

Thank you also to Kenny & Karen of Books Actually for making this part of your SWF programme!!!

Resurrection or Life Change?

That’s what it feels like right now.

I haven’t been reading any of my reading list books–

–but strangely enough have been absorbed in children’s books. I’d forgotten how wonderfully evocative & non-condescending Noel Streatfeild & Edith Nesbit are & I’m really loving Wind in the Willows right now.

I know–some people turn to comfort food, me I need my comfort reading!

They’re very inspiring as people-writers too (though yes, I was introduced to the idea of writing & reading ‘discipline’ if I wanted to grow up a real writer as a preteen reading ‘Apple Bough’).

Noel Streatfeild said in an interview somewhere that she had to ‘know’ her characters for at least a year before she was ready to write about them and Edith Nesbit was a founder member of the Fabian Society & bizarrely I started reading Shaw’s plays because of this connection.

Less ‘fun’ reading–have been reading The New Yorker & Time mags too. Most sticky-tragic was the review of The Vagrants by Li Yiyun based on the true & tragic story of the public execution of a 28 year old revolutionary (who had been in prison for the past 10 years) & who could not speak out at her public denunciation because her vocal cords had been cut & whose kidneys were harvested for an ailing party official before she was shot.

This is a book I know I should read & want to have read rather than want to read.

Almost 2 weeks off regular yoga/gym/meditation hasn’t helped the going nowhere feeling either.

I’ve canceled 2 writing for $ projects (because I can afford to right now so I want to focus on things I really want to do)  & opted out of volunteer work for 3 months. (Why? Because I can. Sorry, I really don’t have a better reason)

But perhaps oddly I”m feeling very good, like suddenly now a standard I was never conscious of trying to assess myself against is gone. Is this what growing is supposed to be like? Feeling freedom of choice & strength & flexibility?

Yes, my mother & 2 cats are dead but I’m suddenly more alive–or more aware of being alive–than I’ve been in a long time!

& feeling self-indulgent too–I now own a Wii console & balance board… & on a totally different front, a Braun combimax & a hand vacuum (for the car–toted the cats’ baskets, carriers blankets, unopened bags of litter & KD etc to SPCA & while I thought I’d cleaned everything up good a lot of dust left behind…) & I’ve been writing by hand again–

Recharged!!

Went to a great presentation yesterday!

Kelly Sonnack from the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency was at the National Library. At the talk itself I was impressed chiefly by:

1. How well she handled herself: she stood & talked non-stop for almost two hours in heels & looked calmly gorgeous throughout–long blonde hair & short slinky dress.

2. How well she handled  her subject: If you want to be considered seriously by international publishers a literary agent with know-how & contacts makes a big difference; literary agents do the dirty work like contracts/negotiations/deadline bargaining for you; literary agents & agencies specialise in certain areas so figure out where/who you should be going before you mail them your life’s work; literary agents want to help you to make lots of money so they can make lots of money. When you think about that it makes sense right?

3. How well she handled us. She was bombarded with questions like ‘how do I know the literary agency won’t say no to me then steal my idea’ to ‘why don’t you handle science fiction when you handle fantasy’ but she was pleasant & clear; informative & detailed without being condescending. Then after the ‘official’ talk she stayed (still standing) to answer the questions of the mass of people, some of them trying to hand her manuscripts though she had said she wasn’t accepting any yesterday.

She asked me ‘Do you have a question?’ because I was hanging around & eavesdropping on the Q & A. Sadly no, I didn’t have a question to ask. I know what I want to do, I just have to decide whether I’m going to do it.

Problem is: I feel I should keep publishing in Singapore because I want to support stuff here that’s supported me up to now. But what if I get a Singapore publisher–it’s the distribution that’s a problem isn’t it? I can be a bestseller here & that doesn’t add up to very much.

I was just ‘impressed’ by the presentation then I came home & looked up the agency & found…

It’s not just any agency, it handles Diane Mott Davidson, Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni, Lillian Faderman (so I know they’re prob not anti-gay characters), Maxine Hong Kingston, Anchee Min and omg omg omg Amy Tan.

Their client list alone makes me drool. I mean, these are books I own. In some bizarre (& yes, totally irrational) way I feel connected already.

Today I started to rewrite/rework/re-edit the next rough in my pile: ‘Falling From Clean Windows’ & I’ll see if I can turn it into something they might take on–Monsoon hasn’t rejected ‘Dead Wrongs’ yet so I’ll keep my fingers & toes crossed there too…

If I get a rejection from Sandra Dijkstra even that would be a step ahead won’t it?

Okay, I’m babbling. I did some serious walking today, a 15 min breathing meditation & a 20 minute practice. It’s coming back but slowly. I didn’t try to do jumpbacks & upward dog still hurts my lower back. It may take a while more… but at least I’m walking again. 12,000 steps today!

Library Thing & Sayoni happenings

Signed up for an account at Library Thing in attempt to get my books in order–I like the site, it’s a very low interference zone or rather you can interact as much as you want to while analysing/paring/cataloguing your own books at home.

So far I’ve only managed to put in about 50 books so far, but I’m enjoying the process. Maybe I’ll finally get my books ‘in shape’ here as well!

And I got nominated for the Sayoni ‘hot list’ (!?!)

Must say it’s a thrill to get on the nomination list–wish I knew who these people are, (jen? jj? think I’m falling in love!)

And the nlb called back & were totally sweet so I also apologised for making a fuss & though my initial tantrum ranting desire was to get my manuscripts back from them now I’ve submitted my copy request for 5 stories by email, they’ll get them copied within 2 weeks & let me know how much it costs & I can go down/have someone go down & pick them up for me.

But does this mean that sometimes you have to be irrational & freak out? Because if not I can imagine still being there in the queue, especially if closing time came (for the photocopy room, not the library) & I had to start queuing again this morning?