Tag Archives: Manuscript

Blogging progress and “Writing the Difficult” Workshop

At the “The Writer is Also a Citizen” reading at Japanese American National Museum the other day (see Barbara Jane Reyes’ post for a fantastic write-up of the event), I met Sarita See, author of The Decolonized Eye and Executive Director of Center for Art and Thought.  She referred me to Kimberly Alidio’s Artist-in-Residency blog posts over at the organization’s website. Reading Kimberly’s posts inspire me to document the writing / thinking / percolating / banging-one’s-head-against-the-wall process.

Sometimes, I forget that the blog is a useful way for me to process the work I’m doing, trying to do.

So, after receiving a batch of MS rejections, I am re-rethinking the organization of my Aswang manuscript, chopping extraneous poems and writing seeds of poems.  Again.  And again.  The manuscript is as unruly as the creature herself.

I just finished taking a wonderful and generative online workshop, entitled “Writing the Difficult” via Creativity Squared.  I worked with a talented duo of instructors, poet Jenn Givhan and non-fictioneer and blogger Lauren Fleming (AKA Queerie Bradshaw), who gave me a wealth of feedback and ideas about new poems and the manuscript I’ve been chipping away at for the past couple years.  Lauren gave me some incredible advice in regards to the structure of the book, and Jenn helped me to focus on my voice in a lot of the very emotionally difficult poems I wrote for the workshop.  (Psst, I highly, highly recommend you take their classes or sign up for one-on-one consultations!).

Along with implementing the workshop feedback I received, I’ve been using the following strategies to get back into the flow of manuscripting:

-Writing titles of possible poems.

-Writing poems that have nothing to do with the manuscript.

-Writing with a pen, using my left hand.

-Doing the Daily Grind (writing/revising a poem everyday for a month).

What do you do to stay focused and refreshed?

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Cacti & Other Updates

Four brand-new cacti gracing my window sill

I think I’m settled in now.  I have about a gazillion books checked out from the UC Riverside Library; I made tatertot casserole and apple pie for new friends in my MFA program; I take the bus for free; new friends and I have a “table” at the local Pho place.  It feels good to be writing lots and lots.  Even though the lots and lots turn out to be mostly crap, it’s good practice, plus it’s fun.  And as it turns out, I’m challenged everyday by new friends, professors, the writers/poets I’ve been reading.  I’ve written my first fiction piece (ahh!), and I remembered how nice it is to have that beginner’s mindset.  There’s tons of risk involved, and you don’t know if it’s good or not but you just keep writing to see what happens.  I sometimes miss that in poetry.  Occasionally when I start a new poem, I have a lot of expectations of what should be on the page.   So, it’s refreshing to not have that in prose.

Okay, here are a list of work/poetry things I’ve been thinking about recently (I apologize — this might be more for me than for you, reader, though maybe you can answer some of my questions):

*ASWANG PROJECT.  Is it appropriate to workshop poems from a larger series of poems?  I understand that poems should stand alone, but must EVERY poem need to summarize or define what the aswang is or detail the world in which the poem is set?

*MANUSCRIPT?  I’ve just re-read Barbara Jane Reyes’s post on the “doneness” of poetry manuscripts on her blog here, which she wrote in response to a question I had.  I’ve sent out a manuscript to a dear Kundiman friend and am planning to send it out to others.  I had originally planned on writing an entire book on the aswang, but now I’m not so sure.  Maybe I’ve been sitting on these poems for too long?  Some of the poems I’ve lightly revised, but now I feel like they’re too dusty to even touch.  I’ve been writing a lot of non-aswang poems and wonder where these poems will go.  Lots of questions on this.

*THE BLOOD-JET.  I’ve put the radio show on hold, since I’m back in school, but I’ve now finally found some time to broadcast it.  I’m excited to talk to Aimee Suzara, writer and performer, about her new play, A History of the Body.  She’ll be on the show this Wednesday morning.  Check it out.  I’m still planning the Fall/Winter schedule, and it’ll be fun to get into the full swing of things again.

*BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS.  I’m taking a craft of fiction class, and I often feel like I know nothing, which is good because this means I need to read more.

Here’s my short list:

-THE ENGLISH PATIENT by Michael Ondaatje

-THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy


-INTERPRETER OF MALADIES by Jhumpa Lahiri (I’m re-reading this)

-Both books by Junot Diaz (re-reading)

-SAG HARBOR by Colson Whitehead (Thanks to Rio)


*AND, YAY.  I’ve just signed up for winter quarter classes, and wow, the time just zips by.  I realize how lucky I am to be writing full-time.  Most people don’t get to do this.  I hear it all the time — the two years in grad school go by quickly– and I want to take full advantage of it.

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