I, ____

I have two hometowns. I identify with 2 cultures, and I’m married into to a third. I hold two–soon to be three–citizenships.

I have two names.

This is how my next writing project begins. I plan for it to be the most truthful account of my experiences. By truthful, I mean to say it will be written without any attempt to make anything sound more interesting than it actually is; it will be written without any intention to make myself more likable.

I’ve been writing for roughly 18 years now. I made up stories about fictional characters, and I wrote about my life and experiences in various blogs.

But this is something I’ve never tried: writing something without worrying about what the eventual reader will think.

Sure, I’ve kept personal (hand-written) diaries. I have 6 notebooks of it so far, the oldest entry dating back to 1999. When I go back and read these diary entries, I realised something: even when I write in paper notebooks that I assume no one will ever read, I’ve actually been writing to impress my future self.

So the new writing project, I, ____, is my attempt at writing about myself, my past, my beliefs, without bias, or expectation.

I’m only a few pages in, and already I am afraid. Here is some of what I wrote on the first page:

I worry that by putting all of this down on paper and one day actually publishing this, I will lose everyone. My family will disown me, my husband will divorce me, and our future children would never speak to me again.

Whether this thing will ever see the light of day, I have no idea. It’s something I really should try at least once, though–writing a piece of work with complete honesty.

Perhaps that’s why some writers only write fiction; they put their horrid thoughts and feelings and pin them on some innocent fictional character, just so they can get their thoughts out there somewhere without being directly associated with having those thoughts.

And really, I tried that. I started the story of my family many times, in fictional format. Over the years, I shed my childhood fears and sorrows all over the pages as if they were happening to someone else. There are many versions of my story in the shorts and poems I’ve generated, but none of them were actually me.

What I found? Invariably the characters themselves grew their own sense of independence. They end up entirely different than I am, and forcing my own thoughts and beliefs upon them would no longer feel right. I let them veer off in the directions they wanted to go, and that’s usually when I end up with a story I like. A story about an actually fictional character with a completely different life than mine.

That reminds me of a quote from another great writer:

“This is the beauty of fiction. Giving your characters what you never had, which then comes around and is a vicarious gift to yourself.”

— David Wong Louie.

But I’ve had enough of “vicarious gifts”. Instead I think it’s time to write about the things I’ve been afraid to put down on paper. Maybe by committing past atrocities and childhood memories to paper will make them smaller and more bearable.

There’s a Chinese expression that I was taught to adopt; swallow bitterness. It’s something Chinese girls have always been encouraged to do in order to keep our families happy. Today I’m deciding to do the opposite of that. I’ll spit out all the things that poisoned me in one place, and move on.

 

Finishing a Story

This hasn’t happened in a while. Most of the stories I start writing end up lost in the shuffle.

Yesterday I finished a story I had been working on and, amazingly, I feel pretty good about it.

Of course it’s still early. I may come back to the same story next week and see all the flaws with it. It may be entirely garbage.

But for now, I’m just happy that I finished one.

A Writing Project

I have several of these. I find that I enjoy it this way. When I am bored of one story, I jump to the other.

Sometimes I take stock of my on-going work, and I ask myself what I’m writing them for. I think by doing this, I’ll be more motivated to finish them.

This is what I’ve came up with.

Understanding My Past

There’s a story I’m writing that’s loosely based on my parents and their family. I think I do this as to try to understand my childhood. I feel like in order to fix the mental and emotional baggage from my childhood, I need to write about their lives before me. I need to see them as the young adults they were then and to understand and sympathize with their motivations. Above all, I need to feel like they must have all loved each other deeply at one time.

Escaping a Present Circumstance

There’s another story I’m writing that’s based on a random thought. It’s somewhat science fiction, because it involves a multi-verse. It’s about escaping our disappointment and dissatisfaction with daily life and getting a fresh start. I think I started writing this because I felt trapped in my work situation and felt I could do nothing about it.

Drawing a Different Future 

This other story is about a single mother, and how she’s lost her only son to a better life. This story makes me sad to write, but for some reason I have to write it. It’s about sacrifice, and how a mother’s love can endure many hardships. It’s one of the random scenarios I run through my head when I can’t sleep at night. It’s a thing I’ve done ever since I was a small child. I make up scenarios in my head, put myself in the place of one of the characters, and I wonder: How would I feel, in that situation?

So, that’s what I’ve been busy doing lately.

My Writing Process – And How It Led to an Uncomfortable Argument

Confounded

When people ask me what my writing process is, I have no idea.

Recently Hubs tried to help me through a long stretch of writer’s block by giving me a daily writing exercise. While I appreciate the thought, I wasn’t able to continue with the exercise after just a week.

What happened? Did I get lazy? Did I get so stuck for words that I couldn’t even write even just a paragraph a day?

Not really. The opposite happened. I stumbled across a topic that I enjoyed writing about so much that it became a full short story project. The project went from a one-day project to a one week project.

The Argument

The Hubs made an observation tonight about “see what happened the moment you took the daily exercise into your own hands; you stopped doing it.”

I resented the implication. I explained what I had been doing.

And he insisted his point; that I should have stuck to writing short daily exercises so that it became a routine.

What he wasn’t seeing was that I was using the time I spent writing the short daily exercises on the work that’s inspired me. I said that I simply didn’t have the time in my day between my day job & my writing projects to complete the daily exercise he held me accountable for.

I told him so; only to be met with, “you can use whatever excuse you want. You can always make time.”

At that point I got up from our week night talk and said, “fine, I’ll go write right now. I should be making time to be writing, right? Then I don’t need to spend time talking to you about this.”

Immature? Yes, I thought so. I was upset. I felt that he wasn’t hearing me. I also felt that he wasn’t the best person to give me writing advice; I resented the implications that he made towards me lacking discipline.

The Process

Even though the discussion upset me, I took away from it what I could. I need to write, every day. Doesn’t matter what, doesn’t matter where. So… expect to see a lot more content here as I continue this uphill struggle with getting these words out of my head.

Writing Challenge #0001

  • Topic:

Home is the location, loneliness is the theme. A picture frame is an object that plays a part in the story.

Staying On Track

I’m not writing as much as I’d like, so I bought a pocket calendar that lasts until the end of 2015.

For every day that I’ve written, I get a green check. For every day that I haven’t written, I get a red ex. Seeing this calendar over time will hopefully motivate me a little more.

 

My Story

I finally started it. All the random memories, along with the feelings associated with them, are now being recorded on virtual paper.

It’s something I was afraid of doing before. I was afraid of being absolutely honest even when it was to no one in particular. The fear of offending someone else’s sensitivities gave me pause.

But I’m ignoring all of that now.

———————————————

I finished the series a best friend got me for Christmas. The Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu. Not the best writing I’ve ever come across, not even the best story. It wasn’t terrible enough for me to just abandon reading half way through. The ideas it put forth was familiar and the execution of it was admirable. I just didn’t feel sympathetic to the story or the characters–and I generally grow attached to books that CAN make me feel something.

I started another series that I came across while shopping for Steak. The book aisle at Stop & Shop is directly facing the meats. Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Now this book is more up my alley. It’s horrifying at times and it reads as it the author drew the story from genuine feeling. The writing is fluid and the story enjoyable. There are certain areas of the book where it feels like a heavy-handed plot device inserted to get the characters from point A to point B, but it doesn’t distract enough from the story itself.

———————————————

My family. How do I explain this? I changed my facebook profile photo to one of my younger self propping up my baby brother. The only comments this drew were from my mother and my aunts.

My mother: “You miss your brother.” What she’s really trying to say is that I don’t miss her.

My other aunt: “Good! Now when you come back you should continue to love your brother oh!” ……………

Why is my choice of living in a separate area from family viewed as desertion? Why am I accused of loving my family less simply because I live in a different area from them? The idea of what “family” means for my Chinese relatives prevents them from understanding this, but their lack of decorum is preventing them from keeping their thoughts to themselves.

There is nothing like being guilt tripped by one Chinese mother. I’m being guilt tripped by multiple because apparent my mother’s sisters all band together when it comes to their children’s wrong-doings. Let’s quadruple the guilt power, shall we?

So that’s today in my life.

My Calling

So I researched a job posting today posted on a prestigious online software company. I meet all of their requirements and then some.

My father has always told me, do what you enjoy to do.

But then there’s that saying: Your hobby is what you love to do; your career is what you’re good at.

So the question is, do I devote my time to perfect my skills in what I love to do? Or do I give in and simply pursue what I’m good at?

All I know is, the stories will never stop showing up in my head and I will never be able to keep the demons at bay without writing these thoughts down somewhere. Writing is not a hobby; it is a necessity.

Stuck

Creative inspiration–I don’t have it.

I have two existing novel projects that I’m slowly trudging away at. In both projects I’ve reached a plot deadlock.

With Realm, I have an outline that I’ve been following. But I’m so unsatisfied with the current conflict that I can’t seem to write beyond the certain point.

With Translation, the plot is completely stuck. I threw a major plot device in there but now I have no idea what to do with it. i can’t just trash the idea because it was such a central part of the story. If I were to trash the idea, I would trash the entire project.

One of these projects is too close to my life for me to take too much creative license with it and the other is so far from my life that I have no personal experiences to draw from..

Frustrating.