Browsing articles in "Thoughts"

Published: \’in-glish\ in Brevity Magazine

Sep 13, 2016   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Published, Thoughts  //  No Comments

I’m quite excited to have my piece, “\’iŋ-glish\” included in Brevity Magazine‘s special issue on race, racism, and racialization, along with many intriguing pieces written by a lot of talented people.

So many times, in discussions on race, I feel like the Asian perspective/experience is often relegated to the side. Nothing particular dramatic happens. It’s a strange place to be, where I feel as if I’m perceived differently because I’m Asian, but to say it out loud can seem silly and trivial.

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Thoughts Re: “The Power of Dark Stories, and Why We Are Not Always What We Write”

Jan 20, 2015   //   by Christina   //   Thoughts  //  No Comments

Sometimes people who know me are surprised by what I write. My writing can tend to the very melancholy. I like to write from both the viewpoints of male and female characters, many of them not the best paragons of virtue. I have characters who cuss with every breath. I’m still to shy to write truly shocking material, but I’ve written about serial killers and monsters and lots of death. I’ve written about middle-aged mothers, felons, robots, orphans, and emperors. I like exploring the idea of untraditional love and hate, and the fine line in-between.

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The Everyday Practice of Writing

Nov 26, 2014   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Thoughts  //  No Comments

There are two main pieces of advice most writers give & get: read everyday & write everyday. Both these suggestions seem easy enough, until we actually have to sit down and accomplish the task. I often find myself distracted by all the regular errands of daily life (laundry, dishes, groceries, etc.) and come to the end of the day too tired to type out the requisite number of words (or even half that!). And when I resolve to set aside time to write in the mornings, I often find myself staring blankly at my computer screen and decide breakfast is a much better option. But I try again the next day. I think that’s the key: to try again. I will fail in this over and over again. But, I know that when I do write as often and as disciplined as I can, just like when I exercise regularly, I see real results.

Yesterday, I came across someone who really lives out this practice. Her name is Jacqueline Suskin, and I came across her on the USC campus sitting behind a light-blue typewriter. The “Poem Store”, her little table advertised. Free poems, provided you give her a subject to write on. Any subject you can think of. I gave her the word “lightness”, and this is what she came up with without a moment’s hesitation:

Lightness

The easy upward feeling,
the lack of heavy weight,
the hefty load removed
and so levity is leading.
What precious moments
that allow us to slough off
the things we carry and so
freely move along with ease,
with lightness as a gift.

~jacqueline suskin
nov 2014 <signed>

What a memento, right? Not only do I love the words typed upon my little slip of paper, I’m amazed at her ability to whip out a beautiful poem as easy as breathing. And that, my friend, is what I believe comes from the practice of writing everyday. So, try it. Maybe you won’t be a whiz at poetry like Ms. Suskin, but I bet you’ll see a marked improvement and ease in your writing.

Oh, and Ms. Suskin seems to do this “Poem Store” on a regular basis and for events. Check her out here.

From the movie “The Dead Poets Society”

Sep 8, 2014   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Quote, Thoughts  //  No Comments

In honor of Robin Williams, a quote from “The Dead Poets Society”, which taught me how to be my own person and was one of the first times I understood how to “seize the day” in a positive way.

John Keating: We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

Language is what connects us to the future. We are communicating to people who may be born long after we’ve left this earth. So, what will your verse be? Not just in writing, but in your own life? Who are you? What mark will you leave on this world? I guarantee you will leave a mark, no matter how invisible you believe yourself to be right now. Every step you take exerts a force upon this earth, every word you say leaves a wake in the air molecules, and every sentence you write contributes a verse to the human play that carries on through the years.

What will your verse be?

Happy (Belated) New Years!

Jan 29, 2014   //   by Christina   //   General, Latest News, Thoughts  //  No Comments

I can’t believe another year (+ another month) has passed.  I think this same exact fact every year.  Yet, even though I know I’ll think the same thing next year, I’m always caught off guard each time I realize that a full 365 days have passed and we’ve entered yet another year.  I mean, I still think the 90’s were just a few years ago. 

This past year, in terms of my pursuit of a nascent career in writing, has been decent.  I’m currently in a time of building & refining, distilling my style down to something that’s uniquely mine while at the same time trying to raise the quality of my writing.  I know I have a long way to go before I can reach a point where I can say to myself, "Hey, you’re pretty darn good!"  But, hey, everyone starts from somewhere.

I’m honored to have been featured in two fantastic publications, Still Points Arts Quarterly and a Siren’s Call anthology.  However, I’ve received a fair amount of rejections to go along with my successes.  Both states of success and failure are equally important in my life.  Of course, I love to be published.  What writer doesn’t?  I love that I can share my views and stories with others, and I hope that they can bring pleasure (or, at least, thoughtfulness) into someone’s life.  On the other hand, rejections are an important part of the refining process.  I especially appreciate the rejections I’ve received that offer specific comments, so I can see my stories with new eyes and tweak them to bring out their own strengths.  I love the learning process.  Looking back at how my writing has progressed over the last few years makes me giddy, because I feel like it’s such a worthy pursuit. 

I’m still working on my novels, of course.  I’ve finished two, but they’re in coldsleep for now due to some fatal flaws I haven’t quite figured out how to fix.  Perhaps, in the future, armed with the right techniques, I’ll resuscitate them and release them into the world.  For now, I’ve begun a new novel which I’m quite excited about.  I’ve developed the plotline so it works around any potential fatal flaws.  We shall see what develops over the course of 2014. 

Lately, I’ve realized how limited my time on the Earth is.  Of course, I’ve always known humans don’t live much past 100 years old.  I just never realized how quickly 100 years pass.  I get my one chance at life, and I want that chance to be pretty darn amazing.  That’s why my husband and I are currently travelling around the world.  That’s why I’m seriously pursuing the things I love to do.  That’s why I’m learning to be comfortable in the person I am and the person I’m meant to be.  There’s no time for anything else.

Meeting Orson Scott Card

May 2, 2013   //   by Christina   //   Thoughts  //  No Comments

A couple weeks ago, I attended the LA Times Book Fair, in large part because I’d read  Orson Scott Card was going to be speaking there.  My husband and sister joined me, both also big fans of Mr. Card and his books.  We splurged on reserved tickets.  Ok, the tickets cost only $3 total, but, hey, every dollar counts in my very limited budget right now.  We waited a half hour with those reserved tickets to get into the event "A Conversation with Orson Scott Card."

Mr. Card was, no other word for it, hilarious, along with his interviewer, and close friend/collaborator, Aaron Johnstone.  That hour flew by and it was our unanimous consensus that we could have probably listened to him talk for the rest of the day, or as long as our empty stomachs would’ve allowed.  Immediately after the Conversation, we ran, dodging people left and right, squeezing into every opening we spotted, to arrive at his signing, only to realize we would end up burning in the hot sun at the very back of a very long line.  But, we waited, our fortitude strengthened by the victuals my husband kindly procured for us at the nearby Carl’s Jr.  And waited.  And waited with barely-suppressed relief when we finally reached the shade of a large stand of trees, giving thanks to the genius minds behind sunscreen.  And waited some more, praying we would reach Mr. Card in time.  When asked, none of the volunteers could give us a clear answer as to our chances for meeting Mr. Card, only making vague noises of doubt and leaving it into our hands whether we wanted to abandon our pursuit for another avenue.  An hour into waiting, and only twenty or so people away, we were told abruptly that Mr. Card would be leaving to sign somewhere else and would we kindly leave the vicinity.  Immediately.

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Know Your Ending

Feb 7, 2013   //   by Christina   //   Thoughts  //  2 Comments

It’s interesting the sheer diversity of people thrown together for a certain period of time on a train, so many lives all briefly travelling in the same direction. One of them is a hopeful screenwriter with whom I’ve conversed extensively about the struggles and triumphs of pursuing creative writing. The best advice he’s given me, among many other nuggets of wisdom, is to “Know Your Ending”.

By this, he means a story must accomplish something by the end of it.  Once you know what your goal is and how the ending will achieve it, then the story will have a clear direction, a sense of focus. That’s not to say the ending is rigid, that it must be achieved no matter what. It’s possible it may change during the course of writing. However, without any knowledge of any ending, it’s highly likely the story will go nowhere and everywhere and end up rather pointless, more of a writing exercise than a cohesive story.

As you can see, this bit of advice is not only applicable to writing, it has parallels to our own personal lives. Instead of drifting from day-to-day stuck in a routine we have no clear reason to be in, wouldn’t it be interesting to pursue an intentional life? With only one life, I’d hate to have it end up being some kind of exercise or practice session. I’d like to choose the purpose of my life and how I want the ending to achieve the culmination of that purpose. This gives me a directionality I can deliberately pursue. And even if the end-goal changes, that’s ok, because my purpose remains the same, and I can fly ahead full steam.

I didn’t intend to write so much of my personal philosophy, as this is a blog based around my thoughts regarding writing. But, I suppose, it brings the point home: Know Your Ending. It makes everything flow so much easier.

Dealing with Rejection

Jan 24, 2013   //   by Christina   //   Thoughts  //  No Comments

There are both easy and hard aspects to being a budding writer. Writing, itself, is easy because it is as natural to me as the regular inflation and deflation of my lungs. It is simply me taking bits and pieces of my self (my mind, my heart, my experiences, my hopes, my desires, my philosophy, my fears) and blending it through the lens of stories, both real and imagined, before pouring it out for public consumption.

Which leads me to the hardest part of writing: the rejection.

Rejection in more objective disciplines such as engineering or accounting tends to be straightforward. There is a right answer or a wrong one, it works or it doesn’t, the figures balance or they don’t. If there is a problem, one can figure out a solution, fix it, move on.

Rejection in a more subjective field such as art, music, dance, or writing is so different, and, for me, exponentially more devastating. Why? Because it is more personal. Each story I write contains so much of me in it, that I feel, whether this is logical or not, that they are rejecting me personally.

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And So Another Year Begins

Jan 8, 2013   //   by Christina   //   Thoughts  //  1 Comment

Looking back on the last year, I accomplished so much less and so much more than I anticipated. I learned about the frailties of the human body, the tragedy of all work and little play, the slippery nature of time, and the agonized questioning of rejection. At the same time, I also learned of the unbelieving joy of being published for the first time (and nominated for Pushcart!), the growing cohesiveness of my writing style, and the giddy confidence of confirming a life-direction.

Now, as I step forward into a new year, I can’t say I’ve changed so much as become a greater distillation of self. Is it egotistical to say I expect great things of myself in the upcoming days ahead? Perhaps. Or perhaps it is merely the foolish dreamings of an idealist.

I’m excited for what new stories and adventures this next year will bring!

Fan Fiction

Nov 30, 2012   //   by Christina   //   Thoughts  //  2 Comments

There’s something I must admit.  It’s something I’m ashamed to be ashamed of, something that isn’t a vice but is often treated as one.

I love reading fan fiction.

Fan fiction, the term, is rather self-explanatory.  It is fiction written by fans about their favorite books, movies, and television shows.

But it goes beyond that.  It is a world created by fans with its own language and culture, where one can readily see that the word “fan” is derived from the word “fanatic” but in the most interesting way possible.

When I bring up the subject of fan fiction to the uninitiated, the first reaction is usually derision.  Most people are under the impression that fan fiction are written by people who can’t write proper fiction.  That those who can’t write, write fan fiction.  Of course there are the stories that are tedious to read, headache-inducing drivel full of ridiculous characters, but the percentage of these is equal to the amount of headache-inducing drivel full of ridiculous characters I find on the bookshelves of bookstores that still somehow make money.  More often, in thousands of fan fiction I have read, I find myself amazed by how fantastic the writing is.

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