My first book, The Elopement, was about running off to Ireland to get married. Kind of. I didn’t mean to run off, and I didn’t mean to get married. Lots of things happen in the course of, well, youth. Next year marks the 20-year anniversary of the events in that book’s main story, and I wanted to write a follow-up one. Its working title is End of the Rainbow..
What is End of the Rainbow about? Well… let me put it simply…
Relationship, change, and discovering that after years of journeying in the joint venture of marriage what it is that there is—and isn’t—at the end of the rainbow…
Thankfully, I’ve been writing gobs, and nearly every day, since I published that first book, so I have a lot more practice with getting things in storytelling and plot-making order. (The people who critiqued my earlier work said that it ‘jumped around a lot,’ and I get it, I did that, I was flustered, of course, not knowing what was going on around me, in those days.)
Learning to write.. by actually writing. And a lot..
Despite the fact that it was my first book, and the above mention of disjointedness, I got more compliments on The Elopement than any other one, since… I think… I think it was just sheer honesty, sharing it all, and letting other people see it from my viewpoint, maybe. People I had grown up meeting regularly with since our families were friends and stuff would come up to me later, like at weddings and things, and say, ‘Oh, my gosh, I could so relate to this.’ That was nice. I was happy to have made a thing that people could feel, well, that they weren’t so alone. Same with The Dive. But different… that wasn’t about my own family-friends-local community, but a different one, the intersection of all of us women who, um, we’ve had the experience of having to make a fiercely difficult decision about a very much-wanted pregnancy. [*deep breath, remembering, acknowledging, and releasing… soft eyes* HT PR]. So yeah. Hard to connect about that in real life, but internet!, works. They put it on as a recommended reading at one of the sites that had helped me a lot, AHeartbreakingChoice.Com. Seeing that my writings were landing with people, I was happy to be asked to be part of an anthology, Sisters Born, Sisters Found, and things grew out, from there. But I wasn’t a born writer, or anything. (Actually, I’m a math person. [nerdy thing deleted]).
But The Elopement was a test, for me, of seeing if I could write a thing. I like to challenge myself. I think that there was a lot, too, in this book that showed people my skill with language. I loved that I could write it all out the way I felt like it; instead of trying to go through a publishing house. (For the record, I did have one in mind, since I had done a photoshoot for them back in the days when Spectator Magazine was around in Raleigh and I was freelancing for them. They were nice about it, and they made a suggestion about how since it goes to Ireland and India and the West Coast and then back to the East Coast of the United States that it might be too much moving around for most people. Which was a fair point. It led to me cutting Kismuth into four chapters, the way it is now, Vols. I-IV, so that was good to explore.) This paragraph is getting, like, so long. Anyway. To be honest, I’m terribly happy they didn’t ‘take’ my manuscript, because it wasn’t ready yet, to be shared, and I got to put parts of it into the world slowly. For example, one book, Kanishka, was published as a serial for a magazine in India that had hosted me for a writing residency, which was great. And another, Breakfast in Cambodia, was mostly the shortlist of a compilation of articles and columns I had published in the Seattle paper Northwest Asian Weekly (which I had a relationship with since DK, my design studio, had done their 25-year anniversary’s rebranding when we were based in Seattle)... and other things I had written for a year or so every month, for Saathee Magazine. Sharing stories as I was writing them became really fun, for me. So, I started an interactive writing project called The Cojournal. Was great, to do that. This was how my internet community began, in a way. I haven’t met some of the people in real life yet, but we’ve been writing together for years. I love this. The Cojournal went on for a bit, and morphed into ‘Interactive Papers.’ And I’m happy with it all. [*smiling*]
Everything for me careerwise has been this kind of step-by-step learn-as-you-go and apply it right away style of doing things. Let me go back though to explaining a little bit about why The Elopement was such an important book to write, for me. I wanted to understand what was going on, in my own heart, to be honest and up-front with myself, to myself. Largely, that was the purpose. There were so many conflicts, naturally, and I was still young and influenced by peer pressure and stupid social mores, naturally. It’s what happens when you’re conditioned. But I got to get over that, mostly thanks to Ireland and those who saw my story before I even did, and were kind to me, and included me, and gave me the responsibility of doing work in Ireland, with part-time jobs (HT D&GC, COD) and even a full-time one, at a small startup that gave me a chance to write, really write, for work, and for real. So much, Ireland gave me, in the way of teaching me what story is, why people share, and how good it can feel to do that, too. In pubs, through songs, over dinners, lunches, chats. I miss it now, writing about it… I am in a place, currently, geophysically I mean, that reminds me very much of West Cork… Leaving the United States for Ireland to work things out for myself, to find my way, that is, and generally to figure out bunches in the context of just being, just being far, and just being part of a newlywed life was the best thing I could have done for myself, up until that point. (Leaving the United States again, in 2013, for the ‘on the road’ adventure, see Breakfast in Cambodia that continues to this day, somehow, well!, that was a pretty good call, too).
Sometimes you just have to make a break from the kinds of people who say one thing, but don’t really know what ‘love’ is. They think they know best. They think they know better than you do, about what is right for you. Which is bollix. Of course it’s ridiculous. One of them, whom I have coolly severed ties with, thank goodness, is the same person who said on a call that it must be nice to be in Cambodia, since it is ‘an island.’ [pause for dramatic effect] Why, I’m so glad I did not listen to that person’s advice in my younger years. Something told me she was dodgy*. Oh, man, lookit. My Irish accent’s coming out now.
Growing up and seeing it newly..
More awakenings that I have worked out about why eloping was so important, so surprisingly good, and so comfortable to get started on a life of uncertainty ever since, too. Can expand on this. I will. In the book. It’s coming together really nicely, I’ve had a lot of time to work on it where I am. Weather-wise and otherwise, it’s a good place where I am, to reflect, to work it out in a new book. The one that I wrote before was well-received, by those who could relate to the story. Wanting to do your own thing, especially when you have overbearing parents, or… well. It’s a long story. So many changes, since those days. I’ve grown up a lot, I think. Naturally. Two decades is a stretch. You get to think, you get to look, you get to dance about, and you also get to make great edits, in the course of finding your way towards middle age. What’s left, after this kind of series of cuts, and shifts, and adjustments, is also part of Kismuth, also part of learning, and growing. It’s the summary of all the best of what I found out, at the end of this 20-years-and-counting trip. It’s in the new book, End of the Rainbow.
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