On the road to recovery

A lot of things have happened since my last post on this blog. I am slowly but surely regaining strength and energy again. Not as quickly as I want to, but there is progress. I consider it a gift that I have a wonderful mental health carer and that social services considers my situation one where I am in need of more support. Recovery would have been slower than it already has been otherwise.

These past weeks, I’ve been working hard on the extended story set in the world of the Body Cartographer. I had originally intended this story to be one novella, but it’s grown far beyond the minimum length. So far, I’ve completed work on part one which is comprised of 17700 words. An immersive and cathartic experience. I had to laugh a bit because just this month I attended an event at the American Book Center featuring Jeff VanderMeer, Ann VanderMeer and Thomas Olde Heuvelt.

Jeff talked about the process of novel writing and how when he’s immersed in a novel, he’s so engaged with it that even food becomes an afterthought. At one point–close to the end of part one, I had to stop because it was time to prepare dinner. I opened the fridge and stared at emptiness. I had forgotten to pick up groceries and so I had nothing to cook. Thankfully, eldest son offered to go for groceries and that evening we had french fries for dinner.

Then there was the time I wrote a scene replete with food goodness. After writing it, I was so hungry, but we only had Chicken Tonight. At least it was warm and there was steamed rice, but I would have rather had the dish I was writing about. It happens.

After finishing part one, we went off to grab ice-cream and cake, and when I came home, it was to find a message from Jaroslav Olsa, who is the Czech Republic ambassador to the Philippines. Harinuo’s Love Song, which appears in Alternative Alamat, was picked by PLAV’s team of editors for translation and inclusion in an upcoming edition. To say I’m gobsmacked is an understatement. I mean, I’ve been working towards resuming work on the translation project, but I never dreamed I’d have work getting translated into another language. How cool is that? 🙂

This afternoon, I did a bit of tweeting after I came home from speaking at the International Women’s Day celebration held by an organization I do volunteer work for. It was a lovely celebration. I spoke about the challenges we face as migrant women in the Netherlands and the effect of being uprooted. That we exist in a structured society that is meant to favor status quo but we are not without means and it is possible for us to think of strategies that will allow us to grow and to thrive in this environment.

I’m struck by how the conversations we have around the structural challenges migrants face, mirror the conversations we have around the structural challenges that marginalized writers face. It’s not exactly the same, but these two things speak to each other and strategies that work within one structure could also work within the other. The important thing is to see which ones work best and to find the support we need to thrive and take hold of our dreams.

It’s also been made clear to me that in conversations around race, we often fail to consider nuance. That race is not a black and white conversation. It’s more complicated than that.

This week has been full of things that I need to digest and I don’t doubt that some of it will find its way into story. For the next two days, I’ll be taking a break before immersing myself again in the writing.

I am thankful for friends and for loved ones, for the kadkadua who continue to walk with me and who remind me of what it is that matters most.

Salamat.

**PS. I think nonny is a really cute word. It might show up in one of my works someday. 😉

busy week

It’s been a very busy week, and I’ve lagged behind again on quite a number of things. Next week, we’ll be updating the book blog with a review of Sunburnt Faces and with an in-depth interview from Shimon Adaf.

Adaf’s novel is a complex read and that makes it more challenging for the reviewer. Big sis says that this is the first novel she’s struggled with when it comes to reviewing. It’s not that the previous books were simpler or easier reads, but Sunburnt Faces owns a complexity that makes it difficult for the reader to sum-up.

As we discussed this book, I realized that while I, as a writer may look at the technical and craft aspects of the work, and while I am often intrigued by the process the author went through in putting this story together, my sister, who is interested in books because of what she simply enjoys reading will look at this story differently. It’s quite possible that we take away different things from it as well, and that to me makes this reading of a book and talking together about it to be a worthwhile exercise.

I find myself wondering to what extent the experience of writing and engaging craft affects our approach to books and stories. Already, I have become quite aware of my snarky nature when it comes to films (my eldest son refuses to watch a film with me unless I agree to shut up).

How about books?

That’s something that I’ll probably have to think more on.

Process

Over on Chie and Weng Read Books, we’ve introduced a new feature called Process. We still aren’t sure how regular this feature will be, but we do want to publish these kinds of discussions from time to time. Do drop by as today we have Dean Alfar and Joseph Nacino talking about process and the challenges of Filipino SFF

Talking about process, I also recognize how working towards increasing visibility and working towards better representations and diversity in SFF is a lot of work. It also isn’t a work that can be done by one person, but it is a collective work. If you’re a reader, expand your horizons and go read something that’s outside of your comfort zone. 

If you are a writer of color or a queer writer, right now it may feel like everything is a struggle. We are struggling to make space for ourselves and for our narratives. Change is slow. We are still in process. But we will get there. Just keep on writing and telling your stories the way you want to tell them. 

To you who encourage us and keep us going. Thank you. Peace, love and courage. 

Update and Monday’s content on the book blog

It’s Monday morning and I’m all packed up and waiting in the hotel lobby. Nine Worlds has been amazing. I’ve been so inspired and I have many things I want to share, but I’ll save that for when I get home. 

In the meantime, I’ve quickly posted my big sister’s review of On a Red Station Drifting by Aliette de Bodard. I have yet to argue with my big sis over a book. But we do have plans to do a book discussion sometime soon. Watch out for that. We may yet come to loggerheads over something. 

Happy Monday all.