Friday, May 20, 2005

Day 4 - 12:14 am - word count 7,290

Everyday, I think, “This residency can’t get any better, today was the perfect day.”
And I’m proven wrong.

I got more sleep last night and I owe it all to that walk on the beach… I’m still having trouble sleeping because I miss popzilla and kidzilla terribly.

After breakfast, I wrote from 9-12. I ate lunch. I wrote a little more…. The more and more I write the better I feel about where the story is going and my use of language. I feel like I am remembering how to ride a bike – not just any bike – but a bike of my own making. It’s familiar and comfortable and welcoming…

Yesterday, Mae, Mia and I planned to meet up with Jessica at her cottage to talk about issues specific to asian american women writers. I had a few questions to ask but when we got started talking, I have to admit that I actually got sorta star-struck and totally blanked my questions.

The only question I could remember was as an asian American writer should you take responsibility for the asian American community and write to empower them or should you just write? I didn’t really phrase it that way but sorta like that… I kinda thought I knew what she would say. I mean the title of her book is “dogeaters”. But, I was curious. And she was honest - she doesn’t write to please others. She doesn’t write to hurt others either. She just writes. She’s sensitive and sympathetic to people who read the book and are still hurt by it, but that’s her book. She’s not going to apologize for it. She’s not going to force you to read and support it. But, she’s not going to suppress who she is for a larger agenda. This is pretty much what I thought she would say and what I had hoped to hear. I needed to hear that. This work that I’m creating is so important to me and I know it’s not going to please everyone who reads it, but I am sensitive to the asian American people and what hurts them, hurts me. But, I have to be true to who I am and what my experiences are.

Jessica talked to us about who her audiences are and how her work is perceived by Filipinos and non-filipinos. It was so interesting to listen to her stories of past readings and the past productions of plays. She’s lived such an amazing life and has met extraordinary people and experience life so passionately. I really can’t believe I’m here spending time with this force of nature… I’m getting so tired now, I’ll try to elaborate on what else we talked about some other time.

The other thing that happened today that blew my mind… I had to read my excerpt from my little work in progress. I read about 6 pages. The group seemed to really like it. Of course there’s that part of me that thinks everyone is just so freaking nice and supportive here that they’re just blowing sunshine up my *ss… But, my associates seemed genuinely interested in what I had written and where I was going. If I remember right, Jessica said it was “elegant”. (woo hoo! J) I think she mentioned there were a few places where I wrote some intricate details about events and characters that really moved her.

I got some really great feedback and advice re: questions I had about narrative in the 1st person vs. the 3rd person. For example, I really love the 1st person that eugenides uses in Middlesex. The original draft that I sent to Jessica was in the first person. But, as I wrote it I began to feel really self conscious and uncomfortable with it. So, I started another draft in the third person and it really is much better. The group seemed to agree that I should indulge myself and try it when I felt it was necessary – not to push it for external reasons like an audience. Stephanie said it best when she said, “Write the book that you want to read.”

I’m still struggling with deciding if the work will ultimately be a memoir, a fiction novel or a collection of short stories. Again, the group was pretty much in agreement in that I should just go with the flow and cross that bridge when I got there.

Lastly, I’ve been worried about the cast of characters and whether or not I can handle their different immigrant voices with care and complexity. Again, the group was satisfied with what I had to show so, I will just have to wait and see.

Such a great day… *sigh* J

Tomorrow sounds pretty busy around here. In the morning, a bunch of the associates (all disciplines) are going to help steed with his installation of a road tattoo in town. Although I would love to help, I really have to keep on writing. After some deliberation, I had to eliminate three characters which was a setback. I’m glad I did it. It needed to get done but I have to catch up.

After lunch, we’re all going back into town to shop for provisions for the weekend. The chef is off on the weekends so we have to fend for ourselves. Jessica thought it might be a good idea to go out on Saturday night and cook Filipino food on Sunday night.

After shopping, I’ll probably write some more and then we have to go to dinner off ACA. Apparently a gallery in town is holding an opening for david rakowski and Jessica. Should be interesting. J

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