Digital Junk

(August 2017) WRITING WEDNESDAY: If you have a pencil and paper, you can write. But we’ve made it much more complicated — with laptop computers, Microsoft Word, Scrivener, etc. For the past few weeks, I was having major problems with my laptop. The start-up disc kept filling up and when I attempted to find out what was eating the space, my computer indicated it was “Other.” I was madly trying to complete a couple of manuscripts and I couldn’t afford losing the time of taking my computer in to get repaired. I felt like I was sitting in a boat with a hole and as the water was entering my vessel, I was busy getting rid of unnecessary files to buy some more space. To make a long story short, it turned out e-mail messages were taking up 150G of my hard disk space! The problem has been remedied, my three-year-old computer system updated.

I did have to dump all my e-mails off of my laptop, and I have to admit that it has been surprisingly liberating. I feel like I have a fresh piece of paper without the weight of reminders of what I needed to do three years ago, not to mention the ubiquitous junk mail that seems to be sneaking into my Inbox. Marie Kondo has written about the merits of “tidying” up physical possessions, but for me, getting rid of my digital junk was the best move in my writing daily life.

Intention

(June 2017) WRITING WEDNESDAY: I’ve been thinking lately about intention. About why we want that big book or movie deal. Do we want it to make sure that our stories receive the widest audience possible? Or do we want it out of validation, to prove to people, both known (maybe even ourselves) and strangers, that we are indeed worthy to be pursued. I’ve come to the conclusion that the latter intention is a fool’s errand. Very few writers are going to be widely desired all throughout their creative lifetimes. That’s just a reality. Trends change, world events transform what people want, new writers enter the field. Somehow we as writers have to be okay with our insignificance. It’s humbling, for sure. But that’s where our work comes in. Make the work the No. 1 priority and be content with that.

Waiting

(August 2018)¬†WRITING WEDNESDAY: Much of a professional writer’s life is spent waiting. It’s from the very beginning. You send out queries and sample chapters to agents. And then you wait, sometimes for two, three months. You finally get the agent (this could take years, BTW) and then she sends out the sample chapters to editors. And then you wait again. It used to be the waiting at this point wasn’t that long, maybe a month. But these days, it’s longer–two, three months. It’s a wonder that any of us can make a living, not to mention the psychological toll of waiting. Over the years, I’ve learned how to better handle these times of waiting. One is to snag short-term projects–I call them cash crops–to financially buoy myself in these “in-between” times. I’ve been lucky, because usually I haven’t had to seek them out. They float my way and it’s up to me to say “yes.” (In other words, I’ve been able to sort which projects makes the most sense to agree to.) The second action item is to work on the next book. Don’t put all your eggs in the basket for the project that is on submission. This writer’s life is not for the weak-hearted. You need to be skilled in writing, but just as important is learning how to deal with the waiting.

FRIDAY FINDS: 1916 Photo Book of Southern California

FRIDAY FINDS: NANKASHU NIHONJIN (History of the Japanese in Southern California–in pictures), 1916. This is an amazing resource of farms throughout Southern California. Images from this book have been featured in my book on the Southern California Flower Market and I’ve recently referred to it for early photos of Glendale.

The page posted below features two farms in Glendale, West First Street. Some of the earliest Japanese farms were in Glendale, Tropico and Burbank from 1899. In 1904, 29 Japanese farmers leased 155 1/2 acres in the area.

 

Words in a Physical World

WRITING WEDNESDAY: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is happening this month and a group of mystery writers, some of them published, have jumped in. I’m more in the wading pool–writing, too, but not at the same volume of words that NaNoWriMo reguires. The daily goal is 1,660 words so by the end of month each successful participant will have a short novel of 50,000 words. Critics have disparaged this process, saying that it will only lead to badly written sludge. Others have found it extremely helpful to be part of a community to cheer and push them on. For me as an introvert and private in some ways, I’m reluctant to post my creative project on the NaNoWriMo website. For me, a better alternative is to share my writing progress with a much smaller and trusted group of colleagues.

I don’t like the standard word count because it doesn’t take in account life, research and basically brainstorming and connecting. But sometimes, admittedly, I can submerge myself in the formless aspects of writing stories without actually putting many words on the computer screen and paper. So NaNoWriMo, just like my half-marathon running schedule (I don’t do these anymore!), give tangible daily goals so by the time you really run the race, you’ll be ready and not blindsided.

If you need an outside push, maybe instead of NaNoWriMo, you can find some other writers who can hold you accountable to your creative goals. That way you won’t be floating away in your imagination, but also aware that something tangible needs to be left in the physical world.