Current reads: ‘Do Muslim Women Need Saving?‘ (Lila Abu-Loghod), ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings‘ (Maya Angelou), ‘Big Magic‘ (Elizabeth Gilbert), and ‘Beloved’ (Toni Morrison).
Recently finished: ‘All the Light We Cannot See‘ (Anthony Doerr), ‘The Power‘ (Naomi Alderman), and ‘The Crossroads of Should and Must‘ (Elle Luna).
The novel–all 83,000 words of it–is now in the inboxes of literary agents across both sides of the colonial divide. The first round of querying is complete; the next leg begins any day now. My impartial readers believe its publication in The Aleph Review will help; hope springs eternal, but I’m not holding my breath. Nobody said the publication business was easy. So, I’m steeling myself from the onslaught of rejections; it will happen. It’s happened in the past. But… wouldn’t you rather work with someone who genuinely believes in you and your work? Yup, me too.
The silver lining in all of this is that I’m writing something new–a short story this time that’ll soon start making the rounds, too. For seven years, I allowed my writing career to play second fiddle to The Missing Slate, and that was unfair–for both the magazine I built and sustained, with a team who somehow saw the same dream and worked on it–and me. So, no more of that.
The short is new territory for me and I’m letting it take me where it needs to. The novel suffered for so long because I was choking it with my vision; the moment I tossed it, everything fell into place, wherever it needed to go. Think Mary Poppins.
I credit Ray Bradbury and Elizabeth Gilbert with my renewed optimism; Bradbury, because come ON! ‘Zen in the Art of Writing‘ was written in a state of sheer euphoria. I didn’t think anyone could quite come close. Then, I started reading ‘Big Magic‘ and my mind’s on fire again. We all need encouragement now and again and a reminder of why we’re here. Enter Gloria Anzaldua and her wonderful essay ‘Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to 3rd World Women Writers‘, which is pinned to my workspace, a constant reminder.
“I write to record what others erase when I speak, to rewrite the stories others have miswritten about me, about you. […] And I will write about the unmentionables, never mind the outraged gasp of the censor and the audience. […] The act of writing is the act of making soul, alchemy. It is the quest for the self, for the center of the self.”
Read that and tell me it’s not inspiring.