Monday, January 25, 2010


Writing is rewriting, rewriting is self-editing. Before we send our work out to agents or to a professional editor to polish up the manuscript for us, self-editing is one step we can't skip. In the past, when I self-edited my first novel The Jade Pendant Tale (still a work-in-progress), I tried to do everything all at once. It was a big mistake. From my own mistake, I learn that I need to tackle one thing at a time. Multi-tasking sounds good in corporate offices and some other places, but definitely not in self-editing. Doesn't it take up a lot of time? Of course. And I believe a professional editor, who is so experienced, will do multi-tasking. Not me. Not right now.

When self-editing, I will look at self-help writing books for punctuations, sentence structure, to name a few. As to revising the story, I simply ask myself questions. Self-help writing books can't help with the story. Otherwise, how can the story be unique?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Cat's Language

I never had a cat in Vietnam and my perception of cats was that they were aloof. My landlord's cat in DeKalb, IL, reassured me of that perception. For a dog lover, cat's aloofness was perfectly fine with me. However, that image of cats changed when Wes's cat Samantha welcomed me and sat with me the first time I visited him and his grandmother in Seattle. I was impressed by her friendliness and began to like cats.

Then, Hermia our cat transformed me into a cat lover. Her attachment to us, especially to me, is amazing. She follows me everywhere I go in the house, even to the bathroom. I also begin to pay attention to her language. She makes different sounds for different "occasions," such as seeing birds on the deck, letting me know she wants water or food, feeling upset when I tell her to go away because she's become a nuisance, alerting us to get up in the morning. The noises she makes all sound different. I remember years back, I ran into a book in a bookseller's catalogue called How to Talk to Your Cat. At the time I didn't care about cats at all but thought it interesting.

Now, do I want to learn how to talk to Hermia? Probably not. I think we communicate well enough that we know each other's wants and needs. For example, when I don't want her to follow me around in the house, she understands what I say. On the other hand, when she sees birds outside, I know she wants to go out there and catch them. Unfortunately, she's an indoor cat, so she has to stay inside. Now that I'm laid up with a knee injury, I believe she's happy that she wasn't home alone all day long until we returned from work in the evening. Now we enjoy each other's company, especially when I'm done with my writing and Wes is still at work.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Diversity in Genres

To my delight, new genres in all kinds of writing pop up every so often. Just for essays, there're flash essay, standard essay, personal essay, memoir essay, and lyric essay. Which kind should I writer if I want to express my thoughts and feelings in an article? The upside is that I can have different types to choose from; the downside is that I have to decide, and making a decision takes time.

One kind of essay that intrigues me now is the lyric essay. After googling it to find out more about it, I think I'd like to explore this genre. I love lyric poetry, so I might as well try my hand at it. Before I start, I should think of what I want to write in a lyric essay. From what I learned from the Internet, the Internet is an amazing learning tool, a lyric essay jumps around a lot. What's the best subject for me to write in this kind of essay? When I'm day dreaming? Anyway, someday I'll write a flash lyric essay. There we go. A "new" genre has just popped up: Flash lyric essay. A writer is an explorer. Sure enough.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fresh Eyes

For six months in 2009, I worked on my genre-bending (blending) novel The Jade Pendant Tale and finished the revised draft and let it cool down. For the rest of the year, I worked on different things, such as plays, haiku, and personal essays. Now that 2010 is here, as scheduled, I return to the novel. When I looked at it on New Year's Day, I spotted quite a few of problems, seeing the novel with a pair of fresh eyes. My discovery didn't frustrate me; instead, it brought me joy. For me, the six-month hiatus worked. For some other writers, though, six months might be too long a cool-off time. The long put-off is just for the novel. I won't grant a short story months' time-off. A month should do the job.