Tag: writing (page 1 of 2)

My writing playlist

In case anyone is wondering…this is my writing playlist.

There are a lot of Jonsi and Sigur Ros tracks. I’m indebted to Jonsi and Sigur Ros for the bulk of my writing, as you can see.

Also, while I love lyrics (in my non-writing life I love Journey and Sia and Kate Bush and New Order and the Killers and Houndmouth and Imagine Dragons and Postal Service and Blondie and David Bowie and Adele, etc., etc), I bend towards ambient or non-lyric-based songs for my writing (the words from the song get mixed up with my own words). You’ll see at the tail end of the list, I have some songs with lyrics; that’s me coming out for a breath of air from a deep dive into my own writing. The beginning is mood-setting, and the middle is pensive and slow.

It’s a 4 hour long playlist, which is about the maximum amount of time I can sit at any one time to write. I rarely make it to the end.

And sometimes yes, I do skip around.

(I’ve only very very recently discovered Standing At Last–recommended to me by a superior friend who suggested them after I shared my general predilections with her). Always looking for more. Always looking to lengthen my writing time.

What is your writing playlist? What do you like to hear while writing? Anything I might be missing, based on what I’ve got?

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(In case you’re averse to itunes, here is a list of the songs):
1. Anthem by Moby
2. The Newsroom Main Theme
3. Hymn by Moby
4. Myth by Beach House
5. Chasing Cars by Sleeping At Last
6. Around Us by Jonsi
7. Growing Till Tall by Jonsi
8. Hengilas by Jonsi
9. Untitled 4 by Sigur Ros
10. Indian by Sleeping At Last
11. Marl1 by Tsewer Beta
12. The Hunt by Youth Lagoon
13. Holocene by Bon Iver
14. Montana by Youth Lagoon
15. Flume by Peter Gabriel
16. Why Not? by Jonsi
17. VCR by The xx
18. Building the Barn by Maurice Jarre
19. Boy Lillikoi by Jonsi
20. Mariner’s Song by Cowboy Junkies
21. AEvin Endar by Jonsi
22. So Long, Lonesome by Explosions in the Sky
23. Sun by Jonsi
24. Cannons by Youth Lagoon
25. We Bought a Zoo by Jonsi
26. Hoppipolla by Jonsi
27. Viva La Vida by Coldplay
28. Snaerisendar by Jonsi
29. Into the Blue by Moby
30. Opus 26 by Dustin O’Halloran
31. Southern by Sleeping At Last
32. Whole Made of Pieces by Jonsi
33. Sweet Jane by Cowboy Junkies
34. All Through the Night by Sleeping At Last
35. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
36. Your Hand in Mine by Explosions in the Sky
37. Knife by Grizzly Bear
38. The Book of Love by Peter Gabriel
39. Poison & Wine by The Civil Wars
40. A Whiter Shade of Pale by Annie Lennox
41. On the Sea by Beach House
42. Youth by Beach Fossils
43. The Others by Birds of Tokyo
44. Yellow Roses by Animal Hours (my boyfriend!)
45. Entropy by Grimes x Bleachers
46. Everything Little Thing She Does is Magic by Sleeping At Last
47. Simple Things by Miguel
48. Lo Boob Oscillator by Stereolab
49. What a Pleasure by Beach Fossils
50. Cybele’s Reverie by Stereolab
51. The Story by Dolly Parton
52. Still Falling For You by Ellie Goulding
53. Two Weeks by Grizzly Bear
54. Train by Niklas Aman
55. Daydream by Youth Lagoon
56. I Drove All Night by Cyndi Lauper
57. True Colors by Cyndi Lauper
58. Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler
59. I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton
60. Anthem by Moby

How to Ask Authors for an Interview

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I used to be a technical recruiter. This meant that for over 15 years, I left voicemails and email messages with the intention of opening a dialogue, with the hope that I sounded both professional and engaging. And ultimately, with the hope of a reply.

Additionally, once people called, I interviewed people. My goal was to get to know each person’s motivations and assess skill set and gain insight into their character to determine fit for the companies at which I worked.

I often wondered how this career experience would at all dovetail with my dream of becoming a published writer.

But then when I became a fiction editor at Kartika Review, my past and present jobs began to converge. Part of my responsibilities included seeking out writers for interviews and then interviewing them in the most rewarding way I could muster. I felt like finally my past life was making sense in my present life!

Now that I’m officially an author (!!!)–wow, that sounds weird and amazing to write–I’m on the other end of all this business. I’m the one asked for interviews. And I’m experiencing an entire range of queries.

I can’t say yes to everything. My publicity team is curating requests for me. But I thought I’d take some time here to offer up what I’ve learned (on and off the job) to more effectively ask authors for interviews. It’s “how to get to yes” for author interviews…

In the query emails…

  • Introduce yourself. If you know the author or were referred to her/him or have a friend in common, now’s the time to make that known.
  • Disclose affiliation–are you interviewing him/her for your blog? For a journal? For a magazine? If your publication isn’t nationally recognized (i.e., the New York Times), then share a little about your publication. Provide a url to your publication. Perhaps an example of a past interview. Who’s your readership? Your audience?
  • Compliment. Flattery gets you everywhere–make sure it’s authentic. I am going to assume you’ve read their work. If not their recent book, please make sure you’ve read SOMETHING they’ve written. Then say something about how that work was meaningful to you. This will give the author/writer an indicator of how thoughtful the interview experience will be.
  • Mention the impact their interview might have on you or your publication. If you have a smaller audience, this is a crucial addition–because psychic income counts. Established authors will engage with you if they feel
    your passion or social messaging or whatnot. How would their participation help you or your readership?
  • Then–and this might be the hardest part, tell them in what ways participation would help the author out. Will s/he gain readers? Will this be good community service? How might you help sell her/his book or elevate her/his social presence? Or darn it, will it just be an awesome good old time? Having fun is also a part of the decision equation. Authors are people too. 🙂
  • Also–maybe a quick note on the format of your interview. Will it be via google docs? IM chat? Phone? Email? Or list possibilities and let the author choose (many of us have a preference–I myself prefer google docs or email).
  • If there is a reply…a followup email after your THANK YOU I’M SO EXCITED, be clear about timeline–by when would you like this interview done? And how long will they have to answer questions? How many rounds of questions? How many questions will there be? Make sure you give authors at least a month out of courtesy.
  • And follow up. You can end your first query email by suggesting you will followup in a few weeks if there is no reply. And then follow up. Follow up Follow up Follow up. This is for you. And do it kindly but firmly. I once asked a writer for 18 months for an interview–by checking in every 3 months (politely but consistently) until I got a yes. Now that Famous Author and I are friends.
  • If the author agrees to the interview–they’ve made time in their schedule for you. Make sure it HAPPENS. A disappointed author makes a cynical author makes an author less likely to say yes to future interviews.

I hope this helps!!!

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

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(A picture of me in 2013)

In 2013, I lost everything I’d built my life upon. My marriage. My previous identity. Money. I was heartbroken and dealing with postpartum depression. I was struggling with motherhood, and the challenges of this new life.

But unbeknownst to me at the time, I found my identity and strength and friends and love and I began a relationship with my newborn daughter. Everything was gone but I had the opportunity to replenish my life with things and people most important to me as a newly untethered individual.

I remember telling O that I had one year to really make a change. That for a year I would be at home as a new mother and I would have no money and that that would be the year I would double down on dreams. Everything’s gone to shit, I told him. I have nothing else left to lose. I have to do only the things I love to do and see where they lead me.

I felt helpless and so I did the one thing that did not make me feel helpless. I doubled down on writing.

In 2013, I wrote the essay that was a turning point in my career, MINT and it was published in The Rumpus by Roxane Gay. It was not as widely read as some of my future work, but this was the publication that changed my life.

That essay led to an opportunity to write something for BuzzFeed in 2014. I wrote an essay about my stroke and recovery. The essay went viral and led to a 2-book deal with Ecco.

All I did in 2015 was write my memoir. I wrote and wrote and wrote.

Two months ago, I turned in my memoir manuscript. Yesterday, I finished copy edits.

In 2017, on February 14, TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU DON’T REMEMBER will be published and out in the world.

I did not do this alone.

Thank you.

2013 was an enormous fall. Here is a picture of me in 2013, sliding down the Codornices park concrete slide. On that day, I decided that as miserable as I felt, I would seek a minute of pure joy, somehow. My thinking was that I could hold on to those few seconds and say, “Today I felt good, even if for ten seconds.”

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(Also, falling can feel good–as evidenced by the slide).

That is how I clawed my way back. I would hold on to the small parts of good. Even if the good was just one percent of my day. I would make that one percent, larger, somehow. I would hold on to any part of happiness, even if fleeting.

I would focus on happiness. I would be aware of misery and I would try to deal with the bills and legal paperwork one by one. My worries were many–at one point I wondered how it was that I would pay for diapers. I would not ignore these concerns. But I would look at a sliver of happiness while dealing with the unpleasant.

And eventually, the happiness would dominate.

And yes, it has.

On Characters

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I spent the last few months as an adjunct professor in Fresno State’s MFA program–teaching a graduate fiction workshop and meeting the next generation of emerging writers. It’s been an edifying experience on many dimensions. But first, I had to go in with my own pedagogy as it pertains to successful workshop.

For the most part, my approach centered around being craft-focused.

Successful content is based on craft execution. What you want to write is up to you–whether you pick something difficult/ challenging/ seriously fucked up/ controversial (e.g., writing outside your own race) or something familiar, you better make that content sing. So we focused on craft in workshop. For instance, characters.

Let’s begin.

The character you never want in your real life is the best kind of character to have in your stories. Not everyone can be a good guy. Not everyone can be intelligent or make kind choices. Your bad neighbor is essential to your story.

Character is something strong and original and deep in a person’s nature. Generosity is revered in workshop. As is kindness. As is honesty. How do you tell someone they have a booger in their nose? Do you even tell someone? Which is the more generous, kind, and honest approach? There is a difference between pointing and laughing at a booger versus telling them hey, you have a booger versus saying man people with boogers have hygiene problems–by the way you have a booger versus not saying anything at all, thus allowing that person to continue to navigate the world with a booger hanging out of their nose.

The best of course, is to also hand the person a facial tissue. Help out.

Yes. Character is important in workshop. Characters are important in writing. Character and characters can and should be developed.

Character can be a letter or symbol. You can name them whatever you want. They can symbolize so much. We all do.

There is a cast of characters in my novel. Each has a story. Each achieves something in the narrative. Have purpose. Come to workshop with purpose.

Cast also means to throw with force. The cast of characters are cast into a traumatic world. I put them there. And then they keep themselves there, and then they each, one by one, climb out. And as writers, we must not keep them in their cast–the characters at some point come to life, and we must listen to their needs and desires. We cannot be tyrants. What is it they want? What prevents them from that desire?

When my daughter was a toddler, she did not remember the name of the movie she watched, but did remember its characters. Frozen became “Elsa,” and How To Train Your Dragon became “Hiccup and Toothless” and Finding Nemo is simply “Nemo.” And Madagascar is “Move it Move it”–that’s a craft lesson of a different kind, focused on themes. Themes are also important, but that is not what I’m addressing here.

If you want someone to read 200 pages of your writing, your characters must be memorable, must be endearing. Why else would we read all seven of the Harry Potter books? We want to know what happens to Neville and Hermione and Ron and Harry and Sirius and Luna and even Snape. Especially Snape. Remember–the character you never want in your real life, is what you want in your stories. That person is Snape.

Furthermore, your character must be strong. The voice of your story is also what keeps your reader enthralled. Listen to your characters. And so will your readers.

Downtime

Update 5/8/2017: Welp. I opened my etsy shop. Downtime Studio.

In my downtime, I write in my journal. I read. I cook. And I quilt.

I don’t like sewing machines, so I quilt entirely by hand. It’s slow going, but I like it that way. It’s kind of like writing a book-length work. There are no short cuts.

This is what I’ve quilted over the last year.

A quilt for my daughter:

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Continue reading

It takes what it takes

BookDealI’ve been heads down, writing my manuscript. I’m determined to make my deadline to my editor, and even more motivated to finish before the deadline. After years of writing without a deadline, doing so is…awesome.

I live a hobbit life. I don’t much leave my house, except to take my daughter to and from preschool or buy groceries. It’s like an extended residency. It takes a lot of focus to write, and I want very much not to be distracted.

But in between, at AWP and other public space, I’m met with congratulations for having sold two books. It feels good to hear such support, even though it also feels awkward to hear and receive and intake–is that really me? That’s not me, is it?  Huh. And then I’m relieved when the conversation moves on to other topics.

I hesitated before announcing my book deal. The official announcement in Publishers Marketplace went out in early March when only four people in my life, knew. My dear agent forwarded me a copy of what went out, and well–reading it gave me immense delight.

And I still didn’t publicize my deal, because I needed time to understand what this milestone meant to me, before I absorbed the reactions of other people. So that I could hold the personal experience near and dear, even within the public realm. I wanted clarity so that my personal feelings about this writing milestone would not be affected by public reaction. And that I could in the end, be moved and unmoved, in the healthiest of ways.

What did it mean to me?

It took awhile for me to understand what my book deals meant to me. The negotiation itself was exhilarating, but made me a nervous wreck; I had vertigo and nausea and high blood pressure and insomnia. I knew what I had to do, but my body just fell apart. Wow. Who knew that that would be the way I would react to the culmination of a dream?

But when the hubbub died down, and handshakes were made and before the deal went public, I had a chance to breathe and ponder. It didn’t mean that I was “finally a writer”; I have always been a writer. This wasn’t my end goal. Instead, this was the beginning of something, not the end.

This was the beginning of my new life. I’d turned the boat around. In my darkest hour, I stood up and reached for good things and through hard work, made them real. I made healthy choices and channeled all my pain into my work, and turned shit into fertilizer into blooms. I’d shown my daughter how to stand up and make positive change. I’d doubled down when I had nothing to lose.

It is the beginning of a new life, one defined on my own terms.

And that feels amazing. And that is what I hold most dear.

 

My publishing arc was an atypical and fortunate trajectory, one I couldn’t have anticipated when I started writing fiction in earnest twelve years ago.

Twelve. Years. Ago.

When I was talking to editors, after my BuzzFeed stroke essay went viral, more than a few asked me where I had been all these years. I said, “Well, I’ve been writing my novel.”

It takes what it takes. The novel draft is done, and it won’t take twelve years to revise and finish. The memoir is chugging along. The plan is to publish the memoir in late 2016. That’s not too far away.

I write everyday. There is work ahead. I put myself on a schedule a few months ago and thank goodness, I’m on schedule.

Thank you for reading. Thank you to the readers who read my JadePark blog and then found me again. Thank you to my friends who have answered every single text and email I’ve sent. Thank you for my mentors who have cheered me on.

 

Interview with Hyphen Magazine

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I ended up pretty happy with what I said in this interview with Hyphen Magazine about my fiction. I think much of it has to do with the fact that Karissa Chen is a good friend of mine, and she got out of me very candid truths.

Also, Margaret Cho started following me after reading this interview. If you read what I say, you’ll know why.

…My own parents transferred their wartime PTSD onto me—for better and for worse. For better, because in an Apocalypse, I will probably get a posse together in ten seconds and survive. For worse, because I keep thinking about the Apocalypse. I mean, when I see a tree and a wild turkey, I think “Wow, that’s nice. Nature.” And then immediately, I see a source for lumber and food. In that sense, my innocence is gone.

And in the case of my parents’ PTSD, I have no visual for what it is that haunts me. It’s my parents’ ghost, and it’s never been given a face.

I certainly think these ghosts are why I write—to give the ghosts and monsters faces in stories.

The best of times, the worst of times, and the work

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I am a great believer in the idea that life experiences balance out. That bad times are followed by good times, and vice versa. That very very amazing things are almost always accompanied with very very horrible things. This gets me through dark times, knowing that things will get better. This also makes me very nervous when things are going very very well, wondering when the other shoe will drop.

I had an Annus Horrible Horribilis, last year. This of course leads me think about horrible anuses, so there is that. Funny.

These days, I am going through the worst of times in some ways, the best of times in others. And so, in a weird twisted way, I am enjoying the amazing things more than I would had there been an absence of the horrible.

After the worst few months of my life last year, I began writing again. I wasn’t sure when I would return to writing, given that I’d had a child the year previous, and was completely overwhelmed by my new life. But then I wrote an essay for The Rumpus. I wrote another piece for SunDog Lit. A couple stories were accepted for publication. And then I wrote an essay for BuzzFeed. Which then went viral. I am grateful for all the readers who read the essay and then took the time to retweet it, share it on Facebook, emailed it to friends, and posted it on their tumblrs and blogs. You all made a difference for me.

Because the agents and editors came calling. I had some exhilarating discussions with each. In the end, I made my choice, and am now partnered with an amazing agent.

Then my SunDog Lit piece was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

All this in the wake of a fourteen year old marriage that fell apart in spectacular fashion. While adjusting to new motherhood.

So now I face another year. It can’t be worse than 2013, and I doubt the lows will match those of 2014.

I usually put a “to-do” list of actionable items together at the beginning of each year. Like, ride the ferry around the bay or make bitters or plant a vegetable garden.

Last year I did not make such a list–OHDEAR I REALIZE I DID!Last year I made a list–but mostly, I just wanted to get my life back together in whatever form it would. 2014 was about self-care and finding my way back to joy. I gained a lot of weight, and I enjoyed gaining all the weight I’d lost in 2013, back. And then some.

This year–I just don’t want to think about lists. I just want to keep exploring and furthermore, do the work. 2015 is going to be about work. I’m working on completing my stroke memoir. I’m working on getting rigor back into my new life.

As much as I believe in the inevitable balance–I also believe that I can position myself the best I can for each upswing, making sure all my ducks are in a row, and doing the best work I can, to ensure the best outcome.

The creative process is oftentimes a black box. It’s not exciting to describe–as it is purely about work. I think artists also like to continue the myth of brilliance–that ideas come out of thin air, that words come together in sequence in a sudden revelation. Nope. It is work. It is sweat. It is frustration. It is craving a donut instead of looking at the page. It is anxiety. It is fear. It is exhilaration. It is hope. So much of it is also about waiting.

It is about showing up on the steps each day to greet the Muse, should she choose to stop by. You sweep the steps, waiting. Sometimes the Muse does not come by. Oftentimes, the Muse makes no appearance. But if you are not on the steps, and the Muse does not come by, then you miss her. So you wait. You sweep.

I was hanging out with a Famous Writer last year. He and I arranged a social gathering together. It was a very low key, unexciting process. Like, what-do-you-want-to-drink, I-am-at-Trader-Joes, What-time-should-we-meet, All-right, etc., etc. But when the party started rolling, he told the party-planning story multiple times. Each time, he revised his telling such that in the end, it was more along the lines of, “Man! Christine is a party animal! Holy crap! She made me get all this liquor! She made sure we were going to party hard! She made me get more!” (well, not exactly–he told it much better).

I looked up at him, “Hey! You’re revising!”

He cocked his head. Thought about what I’d said. Smiled.

No one noticed his acknowledgment of the work.

But I did.

Sustenance

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I made tamales last week.

I have never made tamales on my own. I once made tamales at a friend’s 60th birthday party, but the ingredients were all accounted for, the fillings made, and we assembled them under her direction. We made hundreds of tamales together. And each of us got to take home a Ziploc full of steamed tamales. I’ve never been to a more delicious birthday party.

I like the communal aspect to making things like dumplings, ravioli, and tamales. And I love tamales.

So I really wanted to make tamales on my own.

There are so many other things I’ve been doing on my own. I bought my car’s child seat a few weeks after I was on my own with her. I assembled her toys and I’ve used a screwdriver more times than any in my life to date in this past year. I’ll have to do my taxes for the first time on my own, too. I’ve never done my own taxes, before, believe it or not. This is what happens when you meet the man who becomes your husband when you are in college.

We bought fresh masa at the Mexican grocery store across the street from the urban farm store. We have chickens now. It’s been raining, so we bought straw to mitigate mud puddles, and more feed so they could eat. We expect they will lay eggs any week, now. They are hearty and happy chickens. One is friendly and comes straight up to you, a second is spunky and figures things out a little faster than the others, and a third is standoffish and cranky. I named them after Gatsby female characters: Jordan, Myrtle, and Daisy.

We also bought chile peppers, tomatillos, and lard.

I made the fillings. I have been a very bad Jew this year, and I continued in that vein and bought a pork shoulder to braise and slather with a homemade red chile sauce. And a chicken that I poached. I blistered the tomatillos and made a tomatillo sauce for the chicken.

Then I went to sleep. Tamales take a lot of labor, require many steps, and I decided to spread it out over a couple of days.

There have been many steps in my life this year. I look back at the long road behind me, and I have come a ways. Some of the things around me are decidedly new and exhilarating. Other things are new and frightening, or familiar and comforting. Most exasperating are the things that are familiar and toxic. I am still taking steps.

Some days I am petrified with fear. I am not sure what will happen, and all the roads before me are new, and I am tired and overwhelmed and very scared, even while I am oftentimes happy and exhilarated. You can be happy and scared at the same time, by the way.

Last week, I had an anxiety attack that was so bad, I sat in my bed rocking myself, while hugging myself. I was crying, too. I was aware that I was acting crazy, but rocking back and forth made me feel better. So I kept doing it. I had to. I thought about the time I read about little babies in orphanages rocking themselves in their cribs, because they weren’t held enough, and because human beings need that comfort. Comfort. Comfort. I rocked back and forth for about half an hour and texted a good friend that I was doing so. Then she called me. I answered the phone, sniffling through my nose like a little kid. And then I felt better.

There is a lot of labor. A lot of work. Some of it is dreary. But I’m happy to say that a chunk of the labor is writing a memoir about my stroke, a glimpse of which readers saw in my BuzzFeed essay, “I Had a Stroke at 33.” I am writing a book proposal and getting started on writing the chapters.

I try to rest when I can. It is hard to rest when there is a toddler zooming around the house. But I am thankful to everyone who helps me watch after her. Very thankful. Like, a forever indebted thankful. Like, I wish I could pay everyone who watches my daughter a million dollars.

I woke up the next day and heated up some water and put all the dried corn husks into the pot so that they could soften.

Then I did some work. Some writing. After the husks were soft enough for folding, I scooped out lard and a little bit of butter and turned on the mixer. Then I added the fresh masa. And then some chicken broth from the poached chicken. Just so you know, at this point, masa mixture went flying everywhere. There are still little lard and masa flecks on the side of my fridge.

But when I plopped a teaspoon of mixed masa into water, it floated. Which meant the masa was ready to use.

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Yes, I am aware that it looks like a tiny penis. I did not do it on purpose. Though it still pleases me that this happened.

I set up the masa assembly. My tamale-partner-in-crime had work to do, so I assembled the tamales myself. It seemed fitting to my theme. I did not mind. It was peaceful to take a break from my writing and smear masa on the insides of corn husks, put a tablespoon of filling, and then some sauce on top of that, fold the husks, and then wrap them. I decided to put one tie on the pork tamales, and to put two ties on the chicken.

My tamales did not look very consistent. Some were misshapen or undersized and a few looked like actual tamales.

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I laid them in the steamer insert to steam.

Then you steam them for about an hour. I do this with my writing, too–sometimes you have to put something aside to do some baking. When I look at something I’ve written days later, some things become more clear to me. Ideas sprout.

Sometimes you have to wait for things to become delicious.

Our chickens are now four months old. In a couple of months they will begin laying eggs. The first eggs will be smaller, and possibly misshapen. Yes, I hear the first eggs can be quite odd. But then over time, their eggs will become larger and more consistent in size. We are waiting. We are caring for the hens, making sure they are fed and have water and a clean home.

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When the tamales come out of the steamer, they don’t look much different on the outside. The house smells good, though. I am salivating.

They keep for a few days in the fridge, and they do freeze well. I froze many of them, but we ate many more than we froze.

The cooked masa was fluffy, the filling savory and perfect. Our hands were greasy from the lard and butter in the tamales. This is why I think they are served rarely, even in homes with people who know how to make tamales. But what a treat.

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The labor is rewarding. Doing new things on your own is rewarding.

A couple months ago, I signed with an agent who believes in me and in whom I believe. BuzzFeed named my essay one of their 13 favorite personal essays they published in 2014. And I hope I write a memoir of which I can be proud. I have so many hopes.

Happy holidays.

Stroke Essay

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On December 31, 2006 I had a stroke. I’ve written about it in passing on Nova Ren Suma’s blog as a Turning Point, on my old blog about yoga as it pertained to my recovery, and on my (formerly) anonymous blog in real time as it happened, and as I healed.

But I found it very difficult to write about the stroke as the focal point in essay format. Sometimes, it takes time for me to understand a life happening before I can retell it to others.

Today, my essay is out on BuzzFeed Longform. I’m proud of the thing. I’m grateful to my editor at BuzzFeed for guiding me towards the razor’s edge in my narrative. And I’m in LOVE with Lisa Perrin’s artwork. I’ve always admired her work, but I’m thrilled with how much she nailed my story in pictures. The above image is one of several she created for my stroke essay.

Also, I’m grateful to all my friends who held my hand in recovery. I don’t recall every moment–friends have told me they visited me, and it’s in the black hole of memory. But I felt my friends’ presence and caring. Who held my hand last year, which was honestly one of the hardest years of my life. Who still hold my hands. And in particular, to the friends and my sweetheart who read early drafts of the essay.

We writers don’t receive kudos very often. So when the love does come around, it matters very much. It holds me through the darkness. And it keeps me going. So–thank you.

Note: I did chronicle my stroke over at Jade Park. And I blogged in real time as the stroke hit me, and as I realized something was terribly wrong. Whoever says blogging is a waste of time can see how that blog saved my life and writing.

Thank you.

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