- The cool, dry air pays a visit like an old friend. My skin is glowing but my eyes are tearing.
- I have a short prose poem in the fall issue of Unbroken Journal. It is ominous, as most writing is these days.
- Someone asks me, “What do you write?” I freeze. You’d think I’d be able to answer this by now.
- I finished writing a story told in fragments. It features potions and a garden. My stories always seem to feature a garden.
- I finished reading Cruddy by Lynda Barry. Brutal and beautiful. I wrote a micro review about it. Easily one of my favorite reads this year.
- I’ve updated my list of literary journals for LGBTQ writers, women, and writers of color. People still seem to use it as a resource and I’m glad it’s been so helpful. Unfortunately, I’ve had to remove quite a few journals that have gone defunct or no longer appear online.
- I’m getting married soon. Since there’s no bride, we’ve had to write a ceremony ourselves. There are no real traditions to inherit yet, no set rules. We are setting them down. I should write about this eventually.
- The cool spell will be gone tomorrow, I’m sure.
- Apparently, there’s been some book banning going on in Arizona in regards to the Mexican-American immigrant experience. I’m still regularly shocked and appalled by the racism and censorship that is allowed in this country.
- A graphic novel adaptation of the classic children’s book A Wrinkle in Time is coming out this year. Check out the cover.
- I read a story about a father’s struggle with his little daughter’s cancer. It follows the family’s grieving process and how they cope with her illness. Utterly brutal and sad, but also deeply beautiful.
- I found a new place to get books: The Book Depository! Free international shipping, and their prices are actually pretty good too. Excellent.
- I discovered The Safety Pin Review, a relatively new literary journal that features 30-word fiction and shows it off on the back of shirts around town by the journal’s “operatives.” Love it. Now if only I can teach myself to write fiction in thirty words or less.
- I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to Catgroove over a hundred times throughout this week. I’m also pretty sure electroswing is my new favorite thing. Parov Stelar is amazing. All of his music is going on my MP3 player as soon as possible.
My sister hasn’t read much of my writing, but she does seem to like to ask me how much is about her. She laughs and calls herself my biggest inspiration. I’ve told her how I’ve written about her before, sure, but she likes to annoy me about it every once in a while anyway. She’s a person who reminds you again and again that she’s there and won’t be leaving very soon.
Last night, when we were going for a walk, my mom turned to us and remarked how we were the artists of the family. Where did we come from? I asked. She doesn’t know, she said. But there you have it. Paula has always been about the visuals and the aesthetics, and I’ve always been about the fantasies and the theories. Paula likes fashion and design, shininess and volume and bright colors, drawing and painting and photography and the process of capturing nature. I’m into books and fictional characters, subtlety and softness and sepia understatedness, ideas and alternate realities and mixing up fabrications in hopes of maybe going beyond just the plain truth. We are quite different in what we make and how we do it, and we are quite different in spirit.
But there’s still a kindredness. Sometimes, we make things together anyway and collaborate. Sometimes I do write things about people like her. Right now, I’m working on a poem and a short story about a sister who likes shiny things too, and her name is Raven. Glitter boots and feather boas and cupcakes with silver sprinkles.
Sometimes she draws things from books that I’ve read, like this:
And books that she’s read:
I never do New Years’ resolutions anymore (setting little goals scattered throughout the year seems a bit more reasonable and attainable), but it’s nearly the end of the year already, and instead I decided to do a retrospective collection of the things that made it worthwhile.
Of course, there have been things that have made it not so worthwhile as well. There have been issues dealing with post-college unemployment, despite trying to apply for some small odd jobs here and there, as well as a few writing/editing jobs for small presses that could’ve been really interesting and exciting. There has been literary loneliness and reclusiveness, and confusing periods not dissimilar to adolescent identity crises in which I really wanted to go back to school just to discuss books with people again. There have been periods where I didn’t know what to do at all anymore (and still do), which have brought on severe panic episodes and moments where I suddenly found myself bolting out of bed. There was a lot of yearning for the nineties, to go back to the way things were, back before high school, to regress and exist when things “used to be good, you know?” And alongside these periods throughout the year were some illnesses and serious surgeries for other family members as well.
But there have been many really nice moments too, which is always worth sharing to keep your balance: such as making new friends online (some that I even got to meet this year in real life) and going to my very first concert in Miami with a band I fell in love with. I spent a lot more time getting to know my sister: helping her with Physics homework, giving her ideas for her artwork, playing Harry Potter video games, listening to the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack in the car, reading Ethan Frome aloud together so she wouldn’t fall asleep. I spent some time cooking with Mom and writing stories for Nana. I spent some time with friends, which is always a nice excuse to leave the house, even though I wish there was more of it. Mostly, there are just friends scattered everywhere: I’ve kept up with my really good friend Melissa in Orlando (watching Jeopardy! on Skype together and helping to keep ourselves sane), I wrote letters to my friend Thea in Wisconsin, I helped my friend Genie from New Zealand procrastinate on her thesis (and she’s helped me procrastinate in other ways), I started a secret blog with my friend Zying that is just between the two of us.
I made some new pen pals and talked to fellow writers. I managed to get myself motivated in times of dejection and insecurity, and sometimes inadvertently inspired others as well (reading through some old things online, I always find that kind of surprising—to look over some of these messages I’ve gotten). I pushed myself to finish writing projects (Letters for Burning, my collective effort ended up being over 100,000 words long). I learned a bit more about the publishing industry and the art of editing, I found new book blogs and literary journals to possibly submit to, and of course, I discovered great new books and music and films.
Sharing is caring—this is not everything obviously, but here are some things that defined 2011 for me, and maybe they’ll interest you too.
Black Hole by Charles Burns
The Scott Pilgrim graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Not Simple by Natsume Ono
Blood Music by Greg Bear
The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan
The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor by Flannery O’Connor
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Son of Rambow
Exit through the Gift Shop
Run Lola Run (AKA Lola Rennt)
In the Mood for Love
La Vie en Rose
Ghost in the Shell
Au Revoir, Les Enfants
“After the Rain” & “Constant Surprises” by Little Dragon
“Boy Lilikoi” by Jónsi
“Down by the Water” by PJ Harvey
“Black Sheep” by Metric
“Sadness is a Blessing” by Lykke Li
“What Else is There?” & “Circuit Breaker” by Röyksopp
“Pavlov’s Daughter” by Regina Spektor
“Lions!” & “Quiet” by Lights
“A Cause Des Garcons” remix by Yelle
“Comme des Enfants” & “Berceuse” by Coeur de Pirate
“Belle à en Crever” by Olivia Ruiz
“Je suis un Homme” by Zazie
“Rolling in the Deep” by Adele
“Soldier of Love” by Sade
“Parting Gift” by Fiona Apple
“Basic Space” & “Islands” by The XX
“Video Games” by Lana del Rey
My 8tracks mixes
This American Life
The complete Daria DVDs
Jónsi and Alex
Pogo’s remixes of the real world
Simon Amstell’s standup
American McGee’s Alice games
Myers-Briggs personality tests