Tag Archives: writing

Published! Like, you know, in a print magazine

Happy week after Thanksgiving, everyone! Just a quick announcement to say that my writing has been published in the new issue of Fourth River, a literary magazine based in Pittsburgh. And it’s IN PRINT. Sure, I’ve seen my writing in print before, but it’s typically been short columns, with creative stuff going up on the web. So there is something very satisfying about being able to hold my work in a bound magazine, to flip through the pages of familiar words (oh, so, so familiar, after much revision), and toss the weight of the printed volume down onto a table with a light thud.

These are the moments when I feel like a real writer, not like someone in a delusional state who mistakenly pretends that anything they are scribbling down might actually ever be read by another human being.

Which brings me to a conversation I was having with my former roommate Bridget about writing, and discipline, and sticking to the work even when it’s so hard and lacking in external moments of gratification like this one. We both remembered reading this quote by Ira Glass, and feeling both heartened by it and also wishing that someone had said this to us sooner:

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

And here’s a video with Glass elaborating just a bit on this theme:

So after that long preface, please click here to order a copy. Fourth River makes a great stocking stuffer! Thanks to friends and family for your support, and hopefully you’ll soon be seeing clips up here of published writing from my year in Taiwan…

And to writer friends and readers, let’s keep producing our large volume of work together! I have only recently realized that the key to writing well and someday being satisfied with the work is just to KEEP WRITING, write deeply, write freely, and just write my heart out. These few and fleeting moments of external recognition remind me that it’s worth it to keep working, to write the stuff that I want to someday read, because it’s worth it. Even if only one other person reads my words and maybe cares a tiny bit about them.

Just to whet your appetite, here’s a short excerpt:

“Cities are my favorite natural expanse–a jungle of people, a forest of culture, an ocean of opportunity. And for me, subways most approximate the kind of motion that Newton described. Sometimes when I ride the subways of New York, I think about our train’s swift movement through the dark tunnels, and wonder: could a train really continue on forever in a vacuum, unhampered by such inconveniences as friction, inertia, or dirt on the track? Such hypothetical motion seems perfect.

Occasionally, I can almost imagine what that kind of perpetual motion would feel like, when I stand on a Local train and hear the rumble of an Express gaining on us. The two trains thunder through the tunnel, until they meet and continue side by side, and for a second, I catch sigh of the passengers in the other car through the brightly lit oval windows. Then the Express roars by; our train seems to catapult backwards and for a moment, I feel myself suspended between time and space, floating.

Sometimes I wonder what forces of physics propelled me out of my hometown, across the country to go to college in California, across the ocean to Paris and back, to live in Boston, as I continue my search to find a city that is my own. Like my father, I see wanderlust embedded in my love of public transportation: the promise of potential, the wind on my face when a train pulls into the station.”

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The Long Road Home

Leaving on a jet plane, a photo by Fields of View, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

Greetings, dear readers! My apologies for the long delay in posting, but it’s because I was packing and leaving Taipei. (cue sad music, movie credits, etc) However! All is not lost! Chin up, disconsolate selves who wish the girl would stay in Formosa (including me!), and consider this: I have much more to write about and reflect upon from my last few months. And then, once I get back to the States, the blog has many possible future lives in its, well, future…

All of these things to be determined and executed, but for now, I am spending a transitional month traveling in Japan and in California, as I finish up research on my grandfather Liao Wen-Yi’s life (15 years of which was in Japan, SCORE! and Stanford University’s Hoover Institution has a whole Taiwan KMT/independence archive– double SCORE!) and wind my way back towards home.

So I will try to stay connected to all of you via the blog, and continue to consider the nature of travel and transience and research and writing, and TAIWAN (as I get nostalgic for foods and drinks and places I will wax even more poetically about them, right?)….. but in the meantime, I turn my eyes to you, dear readers.

What else do you want to hear about Formosa? Please weigh in NOW, in the comments section, so I can make sure in upcoming posts that I answer your questions, tell you no lies, and strive to entertain and inform on this topic in this format, for just a tiny (or very long) bit longer.

So please please please tell me: What else do you want to hear about? Give me some topics and I will write a post inspired by YOU!!!

Some possible topics include but are not limited to: more food and travel around Taiwan posts/advice, on the traveling life, on writing, on research, Taiwanese history findings, how to travel to Tokyo on a shoestring, top 5 (or 10 or 100) things you should do in Taipei while you’re there, the unbearable lightness of being… (the feeling, not the book, ha), cooking in Taiwan, beaches, hikes, and so forth.

Also to everyone in New York, Cali, England (and elsewhere) and in Taiwan: I miss you. My heart is now being pulled towards the east and the west and every which way, so I hope I will see you all soon. And to some of you in the SF area, that soon is going to be now…. before you know it! Now please, help me out and ask some questions!

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13 Ways of Looking at a Coffeepot: An Expat Fable

Brilliant photo that captures my inner state by Lotzman Katzman, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons license.

Let’s face it: everyone has an opinion on the best way to make coffee. Some are downright elitist about the obvious supremacy of their method, others are looking to trade up in the world of home brewed caffeine. Others, like myself, shoot for an optimal blend, if you will, of their priorities: for me, it’s convenience, consistency, and flavor. So when I found my perfect French press coffee maker about 2.5 years ago, it stuck. And as this summer has been all about daily routines– writing routines; research at libraries, archives and doing interviews; waking up before 11am–the coffee routine has settled into a flow of shared French-pressing with my coffee-drinking roommate.

Until the day. The Coffee. Stopped. Continue reading

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On the Writing Life: Chip Cheek, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, and Grub Street

This is how my writing desk is.... in my head. Photo by EvilErin, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons license.

This week has turned into a week of writing about writing; how meta. Writing spaces, writing discipline, reactions to when writing gets read, reactions to when I’m bored with the sound of my own voice and it’s late at night and instead of analyzing my next stack of research I start reading funny blogs on the interwebs….

So now, to come full circle, here are some thoughts on the thoughts of some of my favorite Boston-based emerging writers, Chip Cheek and Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. Chip is primarily a fiction writer, and Alexandria, nonfiction, and they were at times classmates, friends, and mentors of mine at Emerson College when I was doing my MFA in creative nonfiction writing.  Both of them published quite incisive articles recently on the Grub Street Blog, so here are excerpts and links, to share their thoughts on getting writing done, and prioritizing one’s choices when you’ve chosen to be a writer: Continue reading

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It’s Hard to Stay Productive! Shout out to NailsBails

This is my new favorite blog this week, like SERIOUSLY:

http://nailsbails.com/

Each pithy post has an even spiffier accompanying cartoon, and this one is called, "One Hundred Hours of Solitude," and it's all about working from home, something I can relate to (and the reason I prefer to run off to Fantasy Treehouses to write). Also, today's is called "The Unbearable Lightness of Sleeping." <3. SWOON.

 

Dear Mr. NB, can we please collaborate on a post about writing/not working/going crazy? Maybe call it, “A Clockwork Orangutan?” Call me! I’m a big fan.

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A Writer’s Rx: Developing a Writing Practice

Photo by lowjumpingfrog, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons license. Rule number one of the timed exercise (freewrite): Don't let your hand stop moving!

If you want to write, I recommend that you first go buy a copy of Natalie Goldberg‘s book Writing Down the Bones. Just go to your local bookshop and have a look at the first few chapters (chapters are typically 1-2 pages long). If you are intrigued, pick it up, along with an empty notebook and a pen. Go home, and set a timer for ten minutes, and do some writing exercises. It will free your soul.*

I won’t belabor this story, but the first time I read Writing Down the Bones, it was the fall semester of my freshman year of college; I was 18 years old and it changed my life. Our freshman composition teacher had assigned it, along with a book of writing mechanics (punctuation, MLA citation rules, and so forth). So when I settled down to read a few chapters of Goldberg’s book, I had no idea what was about to happen. Continue reading

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Getting “Freshly Pressed”: Reflections on Almost a Year of Blogging

This weekend, Girl Meets Formosa was Freshly Pressed. Now I’m steeped in juicy pulp. (Just kidding. I know, that was terrible.)

To explain “Freshly Pressed”: WordPress.com is the location and also the blogging software that I use to host this humble site. Word Press is a very popular blog interface, and needless to say, gets lots of traffic on its homepage. Each weekday, the content editors at Word Press choose 10 posts to feature in a special section on the wordpress.com homepage called “Freshly Pressed” (with a feed to which you can subscribe). This Friday, Girl Meets Formosa was featured in that section for my post “The Fantasy Treehouse.” Thus, my site traffic has increased by an embarrassingly large number of page views in the past two days.

So, Thank You, Word Press!  (Click here to learn more about how blogs are chosen for Freshly Pressed each weekday). And many thanks to you, dear readers, who have supported this blog from its beginning almost a year ago, and have followed my adventures on it!

And to my new readers and subscribers, WELCOME! Continue reading

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