Sunday, October 28, 2007
I blame this on the fact that my GREs are coming up next Saturday, and then for the next month, I'll have to spend every free moment either working on my applications, reading other people's excerpts for class, working on the first 50 pages of my own novel for class submission, or doing some freelance research an author friend of mine has enlisted me to do by the end of this year. So I don't think I'll be picking up a book to read for pleasure until late mid-December. I also don't have time to peruse my usual industry feeds to find tibits of information I want to post. So I suppose posting on this blog will be very limited for the next two months.
But, good news is, current word count of the novel is around 8,000 right now. I haven't spent as much time on it as I would like, but okay...
Scheduling as follows:
This week: Study for GREs
Next week: Chapters 3-5 of novel
Weeks after: Portfolio and essays
The logic behind this is that once I get my novel pages out of the way, when it comes time for me to submit, I only have to do cursory editing, instead of breaking up what should be my real focus around the latter portion of the month: my essays.
By the way, I just took a practice test. I did better on the verbal but did abysmally on the math. WTF.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Ugh. So mad.
Anyway, because I've been cleaning my shelves recently, a friend of mine forwarded me all these book swap sites, if anyone was interested:
There's also this site, similar to the Where's George site for dollar bills, where you can track where your book goes....
Okay, off to lick my wounds. Today is NOT a good day.
With whom did you last get angry?
Myself... for dropping Giants' defense.
What is your weapon of choice?
Words and feeble knuckles.
Would you hit a member of the opposite sex? How about the same sex?
Opposite sex - sure! Anyone who has seen me really drunk knows... haha. Opposite sex? No, not unless she pissed me off something bad and I thought she was a total raving lunatic bitch.
Who was the last person who got really angry at you?
Hmm. Probably my mom or dad or brother. Wait, I'm a total angel. No one gets made at me!
What is your pet peeve?
Do you keep grudges or can you let them go easily?
I let them go easily if you're someone I'm friends with - I'm forgiving to a fault. If I don't know you at all though, I will probably not forgive you enough to ever want to be friends with you.
What is the one thing you're supposed to do daily that you haven't?
Floss. My dentist hates me.
What is the latest you have woken up?
Uhhh back in the days when I was unemployed and staying up all night doing god knows what, I'd wake up at like 5 pm the next day... YEAH, I know.
Name a person you've been meaning to contact but haven't.
My grandmother. I know, I'm terrible.
What is the last lame excuse that you made?
I don't remember. No, really, I don't. It was probably something like, "I'm tired."
Have you ever watched an informmercial all the way through?
Yeah. It's fascinating how hypnotic they are. They make you believe in miracle products. Luckily for me I'm too lazy to pick up a phone to order one of those products, but I've definitely thought to myself how cool they looked....
How many times did you hit the snooze button on your alarm this morning?
This morning, only once!!! It's a record for me...
What is your overpriced yuppie beverage of choice?
Are you a meat eater?
Yeah. I tried being a vegetarian for half a year, and in the end I believed I was doing my body way too much harm.
What is the greatest amount of alcohol you've had in one sitting?
HAHAHA. Honestly? Something like 8 shots and 6 mixed drinks... back before I quit drinking for a few months.
Are you comfortable with your drinking and eating habits?
No, I don't think I get enough nutrients, and probably I eat too much.
Do you enjoy candy and sweets?
Too much. Alas. There's a history of diabetes in my family so I should be careful.
Which do you prefer: sweets, salty foods or spicy?
Sweets, mostly (cupcakes and other tasty desserts!) but I will take just about anything.
Have you ever looked at a small house pet or child and thought "lunch"?
UH no. Gross.
How many credit cards do you own?
1 that I use, 2 that I don't. I have great credit.
If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?
Finance myself through grad school, donate a few thousand to charities, save the rest to give myself the chance to actually write.
Would you rather be rich or famous?
Famous if fame means famous writer. Rich if famous means anything else.
Would you accept a boring job if it meant you would make mega bucks?
No. Well, wait. How much we talking here, and what does "boring" mean exactly? If it's 9-5 boring, but it's not with a hell-boss and good benefits and it's paying me like $300 an hour, then maybe. As long as I don't have to take work home and my QOL is otherwise decent.
What is one thing that you have done that you are most proud of?
I don't know, really. Maybe having learned to deal with things alone and maturely.
What's one thing you have done that your parents are most proud of?
I'm not sure. Graduating from a good undergraduate school with a high GPA and honors?
What thing would you like to accomplish late in your life?
Well, if I don't publish a book early in my life...
Do you get annoyed by coming in second place?
A little bit.
Have you ever entered a contest of skill knowing you were of much higher skill than all the other competitors?
Nope. Contest of skill sounds a little bit scary.
Have you ever cheated to get a better score?
Um, yeah. Not often, and not by much, but I definitely have.
What did you do today that you're proud of?
Wrote an outline for my next chapter...
How many people have you seen naked (not counting movies, family, strippers, locker rooms?)
How many people have seen you naked (not counting physicians, doctors, family, locker rooms or when you were a young child)?
Have you ever caught yourself staring at the chest/crotch of a person of your chosen sex during a normal conversation?
I once had this econ teacher in HS who wore really tight tight tight pants. It was like impossible to avert your eyes while he was walking around the classroom. He also happened to be extremely tall.
What is your favorite body part of a person of your gender choice?
The fatty part of the earlobe. Also the space in the neck right below the jaw (the place where you would normally put two fingers to take a pulse).
Have you ever had sexual encounters (including kissing/making out) with multiple persons?
Like at a time? No. Though I did kiss two guys in the same night once.
Have you ever been propositioned by a prostitute?
What item of your friends would you most want to have for your own?
A really nice apartment in the city.
Who would you want to go on Trading Spaces with?
Lily because she paints walls. Well, I don't know.
If you could be anyone who existed in the world, who would you be?
Me. Well, maybe me + a little bit more talent.
Have you ever been cheated on?
Not that I know of and at this point I don't want to know.
Have you ever wished you had a physical feature different from your own?
When I was younger I wanted to be blonde and blue-eyed. Now I just wish I had a smaller belly and a faster metabolism.
What inborn trait do you see in others that you wish you had for yourself?
Many things. Courage. Financial acumen. Grace. Generosity. Selflessness. Well, I might be being a little tough on myself, but anyway...
WHAT DEADLY SIN
do you do the most often?
do you do the least often?
Lust. No literally. Hahaha.
is your favorite to act on?
Gluttony. If I go to hell, it would really be because I ate my way down there.
- I caught Fievel this morning on a sticky trap. I felt very terrible when it squealed at me.
- I hate fantasy football. Like really really hate. But good job to my beloved Cowboys. And to the Giants on their amazing blowout.
- Umberto Eco: I'm still ambivalent about him.
- I reworked some of my first 2 chapters. Also talked extensively with my film friend who helped me flesh out the plot even more. I'm totally psyched to write this (um when I have time).
- I am getting a promotion today (I think.)
- I have the GREs in less than 2 weeks. I have not studied.
- I am heading upstate to go "hiking" with my mom tomorrow. Except. It's supposed to rain all week!
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Anyway, Alice Sebold was 15 minutes late, but when she came in, it was funny because she was exactly what I'd pictured her to be like. She started the reading off with a poem by Wislawa Szymborska, which was really nice (I've read only one of her poems before, a really great poem actually). Then she read a little from the beginning of her novel. I like the way she reads, its smooth and slow, captures perfectly the tone of her book. You can hear the way she meant for it to sound.
Afterwards, she took some questions. There were questions ranging from "Do you have a family? Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?" to "Why didn't you KILL Mr. Harvey in Lovely Bones in a more torturous way!!" to "What does your own mom think about Almost Moon?" (since the book is about a woman murdering her mother). She answered all the questions politely, even sort of funnily. I liked her. She wasn't super charismatic or anything, but she seemed patient and kind and appreciative of her audience.
What I found interesting was when she was asked how she picked her topics for her books. And she said she picked obsessions that had stayed with her for awhile, and then she just had to create characters strong enough to deal with these obsessions. Someone asked her if the first line of the book was the first line she had written and she said, no, how she had spent a long time trying to figure out what the story was, and whose point of view it had to be told from, so that by the time she finally got around to writing the beginning that it is now, she already knew a lot of what had happened.
I went to get my copy of the book signed, along with my copy of Lucky (my mom currently has Lovely Bones with her so I couldn't bring that). The BN lady was like, "What edition of the book is this?" and I was all confused for a second, because I hadn't realized it wasn't the same edition as the one that is currently being sold. Then I realized I had bought the book when I was in HK, so I told her so. Alice was like, "Oh yeah, this is different," and the BN lady was like, "Doesn't have the rabbit's foot." So on my way out I checked the cover of the US edition, and sure enough, the cover has a rabbit's foot, while mine has a pink hair ribbon. I hadn't even known, but my guess is because people in HK would have had no idea what the hell a rabbit's foot symbolizes.
On a side note, as I was sitting waiting (reading submission pieces for my workshop), the guys behind me were having an animated convo about other readings, including one guy who talked about the number of times he went to see Tao Lin. He recounted how Tao Lin read a poem, this one actually, and how he was able to read the thing in its entirety without once changing his expression or tone of voice. Hilarious.
Friday, October 19, 2007
I think it's because I'm being consumed by this novel (and partly because of fantasy football). Someone once told me he doesn't like to blog, because it meant sort of wasting words (and energy too, I'm sure) on blogs when it could be channeled to the piece that was being worked on. I didn't understand that at the time, but now I do.
Also, because of that, I haven't been reading anything, besides the pieces that need to be workshopped for my classes.
I went to the Alice Sebold reading last night. I have things to say about it, but I'm really tired right now. Will try to do that later tonight.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Awesome, all I'm going to do is write this weekend. Oh, and get a cavity filled.
[Oh, right. I also have apps to do and GREs to study for. Um. Coming up on Nov. 3.]
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Read her entry. I like.
I mean the thing is, ultimately, you should write to write. Write because you have something to say. Because honestly, if you're looking for riches, this is not the way to do it. And if you're looking for fame, it may not come in your lifetime. But if you write because you want to, because you have to, because you can't not write, then what's stopping you? You are not a writer because someone else tells you you are; you are a writer because you are writing.
I am a writer. Whether or not anyone else in this world, in this lifetime, ever recognizes that does not change that fact. Write because you must, because this is how you process the world, and this is the art you want to leave behind. Fickle audiences be damned.
But okay, might as well put some thoughts down now.
In workshop, they always talk about the importance of a driving plot/obstacle/challenge that is sustaining enough to move you through an entire novel. But then there was recently that thread we had over at Moonrat's blog on plot vs. style too.
My thing about Mysterious Flame is that I don't think that the book is very driving. Much of the book is about this guy looking through his old papers and books and comics to sort of find out about himself because he's lost his memory. The back copy of the book promises that he's looking for the memory of his first love, but this doesn't even come up until about 3/5 of the way through the book. While the history of all the documents is mildly interesting, it's not interesting enough to me to sustain my attention. I find myself growing weary, because every chapter is nearly the same - he finds some new boxes, pieces together a little bit more of his past, etc etc. At moments when I finally think plot is taking off, it settles again after only a few pages. The whole thing is sort of a plateau, and I think I'm not versed enough in Italian history and politics to care enough about how all the period pieces fit in. Don't get me wrong - it's not completely disinteresting, but I find that I keep turning pages hoping that there's going to be something that hooks me. I also think it doesn't help that Eco's style tends towards the verbose side. While he's a good writer, the way the plot is being doled out isn't sustaining me.
I'm about 100 pages out from the end, so I'll let you know how it ends up wrapping up for me. But so far, I'm wondering if I should have chosen Name of the Rose as my first Eco instead.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Barnes and Noble, Astor Place (Bway)
October 17, 3:30 PM
She'll be reading from her YA novel Bullyville
Symphony Space, Bway (95th St.)
October 17, 7:30 PM, $25
Discussing The Emperor's Children (also with Valerie Martin and Hope Davis)
Barnes and Noble, Bway and 65th
October 17, 7:30 pm
New novel, The Abstinence Teacher
Barnes and Noble, Bway and 82nd St.
October 18, 7:00 pm
On his new anthology I'll Fly Away, stories from women in York Prison
Barnes and Noble, 17th and Bway
October 18, 7:00 pm
On her new book The Almost Moon
Cool? I may try to hit the Alice Sebold one myself.
1. Hardcover or paperback, and why? Paperback because it's lighter to carry around and I don't worry about tearing the jacket cover.
2. If I were to own a book shop I would call it... um I have absolutely no idea so I'm going to copout and say Books Taste Good only because it's easy right now.
3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is... ah. This is so difficult. I love this:
"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta." from, obviously, Nabokov's Lolita.
Also the romantic in me likes:
"Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering." from History of Love by Krauss.
But I think my most favorite of favorites is the Danticat quote from "Children of the Sea":
"From here I cannot even see the sea. Behind these mountains are more mountains and more black butterflies still and a sea that is endless like my love for you."
4. The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be... Well, it would have to be Edwidge Danticat, wouldn't it?
5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except from the SAS survival guide, it would be… the Bible. I'm kidding. I'm not actually religious so I don't think that would do me any good. Um... on a deserted island... only one book? I honestly don't know. Maybe a large thick edition of the history of the world.
6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that… Oooh ooh! I've thought of this. A bookmark with flags in it. Because I hate marking up/dog-earring my books, so I'd rather flag quotes/sections I like. But there never seem to be flags on hand.
7. The smell of an old book reminds me of... basements?
8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be... Omg, just so frigging cool how he runs to the Catskills and successfully LIVES there for a year.
9. The most overestimated book of all time is… Hmm. I honestly can't really say. Let me read some more and get back to you on this.
10. I hate it when a book... Is perfectly good as a standalone is frigging awesome... and then they go and write a sequel for the sake of milking it.
Bleh. I couldn't think of good answers for most of these. How boring.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Well, no more bschool in my future (at least not for now), though SF is still a viable option for me as I'm applying to SFSU. I wondered secretly to myself about how the lit culture there could possibly compare to that in NY (a consideration I have for all of my Cali schools, despite how BADLY I want to live in Cali for a few years), but I must say, if I were in SF this weekend, I would most definitely be attending LitQuake and doing the LitCrawl. Seems so fun.
On a completely separate note, does anyone else find it really ironic that Al Gore, loser of the presidency to a president seemingly obsessed with war, just won a NOBEL PEACE PRIZE? I don't know about you, but I think the Nobel Prize is a better achievement than being commander-in-chief...
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Some other pretty notable authors on there too, though I haven't read anything else (my sister owns Hugo Cabret which my mom heard about on some morning show and bought for her. She has not touched it, in fact it is sitting on my ground.)
Oh hell, here it is, in case you live in a cave:
Mischa Berlinski, Fieldwork
Lydia Davis, Varieties of Disturbance
Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End
Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke
Jim Shepard, Like You'd Understand, Anyway
Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I'm Dying
Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
Woody Holton, Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution
Arnold Rampersad, Ralph Ellison: A Biography
Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
Linda Gregerson, Magnetic North
Robert Hass, Time and Materials
David Kirby, The House on Boulevard St.
Stanley Plumly, Old Heart
Ellen Bryant Voigt, Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976-2006
Young People's Literature
Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Kathleen Duey, Skin Hunger: A Resurrection of Magic, Book One
M. Sindy Felin, Touching Snow
Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sara Zarr, Story of a Girl
Dammit. I had something else book-related to say today and now I've completely forgotten...
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
.... I just have to say how proud of my boys I am tonight for digging Romo out of his hole, especially ice cold Nick Folk. Thank god for him. Tonight was not Romo's proudest moment, but I still love him, and we are still 5-0.
Team loyalties trump fantasy. :)
Yeah, no relation to books whatsoever. I don't care. I'm just getting my breath back after holding it for last two minutes of regulation game play.
Okay, now I'll switch back to my usual bookish nerdy self.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
A funny tangent question might be, "Could you be with someone if you didn't respect their taste in books?" Or would it be easier to be with someone who doesn't read, or with someone who reads garbage?
That's a tough one. Depends what the garbage is. I tend to be pretty openminded about books, so as long as he TRULY enjoys reading SOMETHING, that might be better than nothing. Though I might have serious issues if he likes reading only Candace Bushnell or something (taste being only one concern). For instance, in GENERAL I'm not a big sci-fi/fantasy fan, though I've read (and enjoyed) my fairshare of Piers Anthony and Orson Scott Card (LOVE the Ender's series). So while it may not be within my taste, I'd be okay with it... I suppose I'd have a really big problem if I picked up the books he was reading one day that he claims he LOVES LOVES and found out it is the most poorly written thing ever though. Hmm. I might question his intelligence at that point.
I don't know. What do you think?
Saturday, October 6, 2007
And if you are a writer -- what is your opinion about spending your life with another writer? Is it:
a) Good (perhaps preferred, even necessary) because you want someone who understands that thing that you love the very most, and the process that goes with it
b) Bad -- because what if he/she is a better writer than you (is more successful, wins more awards, blah blah blah) or what if YOU become better than him/her (a la Carrie and Berger in Sex in the City)? Competition never bodes well.
These are questions that arose from a conversation I had tonight.
I have things to say about Mysterious Flame but I am currently coughing up a lung and I think I should sleep.
Mm. I dreamt last night I found an abundance of white hairs on my head, and I kept plucking and plucking. I wonder what that means.
There's always the temptation to be a little more personal on this blog. But I will resist my penchant for oversharing.
Friday, October 5, 2007
But I wanted to say that, not surprisingly, Oprah's new pick is Love in the Time of Cholera, which is like on 80% of people's "favorite books" section in their Facebook pages for some reason... But yes. We are all excited for the movie due out in November!!!! Good choice, Oprah, if unimaginative. Give new authors/books a chance, will you?
Thursday, October 4, 2007
I am reading Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana right now, and I love his ridiculous amount of knowledge vomit, which of course, comes with the condition that his poor character has (which I also love, because I was a psych major in college, and I've always wanted to write novels about people with abnormal psychological conditions). I'm only 20 pages in, but it's quirky and strange and maybe overly verbose, but funny and it works.
Randomness: Before it got warm and staying indoors was unbearable, I spent a good amount of time on weekends in a Starbucks right next door to a Barnes. This was my routine - walk into Barnes and spend 20 minutes browsing before schlepping next door and sitting down to write for a good four to five hours (or more). The reason I went into Barnes first, always, was because it not only inspired me, but also gave me hope. Looking at all the books surrounding me, I thought, there are so many books here. So many people have already made it. Why can't I be one of them too?
When everyone tells me how difficult it is to make it, I choose to go into Barnes and surround myself by the hundreds and thousands of books that tell me at least this many people have already made it.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Anyway this is a reminder of the Michael Ondaatje reading coming up at the AAWW. It's okay. You don't need to be Asian. Asian people don't bite (nor will they kungfu your ass or anything like it, despite favored media portrayals). So feel free. I'd go but I'm taking a roadtrip up north with my mom that day to watch the leaves change color (no really).
Copied from the email I recieved in my inbox today:
An Evening with Michael Ondaatje
Thursday, October 25, 2007
6-7:30 pm Private VIP cocktail party ($100)
7:30 pm General public reading, Q&A and booksigning ($15)
Tickets at 212.494.0061
@ Moti Hasson Gallery
535 West 25th Street (btwn 10th and 11th Avenues)
Chelsea art gallery district, Manhattan
The Asian American Writers' Workshop presents an exclusive event featuring Michael Ondaatje, award-winning author of The English Patient (Knopf, 1992), Anil's Ghost (Knopf, 2000), poetry collection Handwriting (Knopf, 2000) and other major, internationally-renowned works. Michael has selected and will read from his favorite passages, including his latest novel, Divisadero (Knopf, 2007), and will discuss the impact of film, mixed media and moving images on his writing. Audience Q&A to follow.
VIP and general tickets may be purchased only over the telephone with a credit card through the Workshop. Please call 212-494-0061. Tickets will be held at the door under your name. A limited number of student tickets are available for purchase in-person, in advance with current ID for $7 at the Workshop (Tuesday - Friday, 12 noon - 7pm). There will be no tickets available at the door as we will sell out. All proceeds from the event support the Workshop, a 501(c)(3) non-profit literary arts organization.This event is offered in partnership with The Consulate General of Canada - New York, The Rema Hort Mann Foundation and Moti Hasson Gallery.For more information or to purchase tickets, please call the Workshop at 212.494.0061 or click http://www.aaww.org/aaww_events.html#ondaatje.
My favorite part of this whole email is where they say "there will be no tickets available at the door because we'll sell out". Confident! Hahahaha.