Category: Writing Process

My writing playlist

In case anyone is wondering…this is my writing playlist.

There are a lot of Jonsi and Sigur Ros tracks. I’m indebted to Jonsi and Sigur Ros for the bulk of my writing, as you can see.

Also, while I love lyrics (in my non-writing life I love Journey and Sia and Kate Bush and New Order and the Killers and Houndmouth and Imagine Dragons and Postal Service and Blondie and David Bowie and Adele, etc., etc), I bend towards ambient or non-lyric-based songs for my writing (the words from the song get mixed up with my own words). You’ll see at the tail end of the list, I have some songs with lyrics; that’s me coming out for a breath of air from a deep dive into my own writing. The beginning is mood-setting, and the middle is pensive and slow.

It’s a 4 hour long playlist, which is about the maximum amount of time I can sit at any one time to write. I rarely make it to the end.

And sometimes yes, I do skip around.

(I’ve only very very recently discovered Standing At Last–recommended to me by a superior friend who suggested them after I shared my general predilections with her). Always looking for more. Always looking to lengthen my writing time.

What is your writing playlist? What do you like to hear while writing? Anything I might be missing, based on what I’ve got?

—+—+—+—-

(In case you’re averse to itunes, here is a list of the songs):
1. Anthem by Moby
2. The Newsroom Main Theme
3. Hymn by Moby
4. Myth by Beach House
5. Chasing Cars by Sleeping At Last
6. Around Us by Jonsi
7. Growing Till Tall by Jonsi
8. Hengilas by Jonsi
9. Untitled 4 by Sigur Ros
10. Indian by Sleeping At Last
11. Marl1 by Tsewer Beta
12. The Hunt by Youth Lagoon
13. Holocene by Bon Iver
14. Montana by Youth Lagoon
15. Flume by Peter Gabriel
16. Why Not? by Jonsi
17. VCR by The xx
18. Building the Barn by Maurice Jarre
19. Boy Lillikoi by Jonsi
20. Mariner’s Song by Cowboy Junkies
21. AEvin Endar by Jonsi
22. So Long, Lonesome by Explosions in the Sky
23. Sun by Jonsi
24. Cannons by Youth Lagoon
25. We Bought a Zoo by Jonsi
26. Hoppipolla by Jonsi
27. Viva La Vida by Coldplay
28. Snaerisendar by Jonsi
29. Into the Blue by Moby
30. Opus 26 by Dustin O’Halloran
31. Southern by Sleeping At Last
32. Whole Made of Pieces by Jonsi
33. Sweet Jane by Cowboy Junkies
34. All Through the Night by Sleeping At Last
35. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
36. Your Hand in Mine by Explosions in the Sky
37. Knife by Grizzly Bear
38. The Book of Love by Peter Gabriel
39. Poison & Wine by The Civil Wars
40. A Whiter Shade of Pale by Annie Lennox
41. On the Sea by Beach House
42. Youth by Beach Fossils
43. The Others by Birds of Tokyo
44. Yellow Roses by Animal Hours (my boyfriend!)
45. Entropy by Grimes x Bleachers
46. Everything Little Thing She Does is Magic by Sleeping At Last
47. Simple Things by Miguel
48. Lo Boob Oscillator by Stereolab
49. What a Pleasure by Beach Fossils
50. Cybele’s Reverie by Stereolab
51. The Story by Dolly Parton
52. Still Falling For You by Ellie Goulding
53. Two Weeks by Grizzly Bear
54. Train by Niklas Aman
55. Daydream by Youth Lagoon
56. I Drove All Night by Cyndi Lauper
57. True Colors by Cyndi Lauper
58. Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler
59. I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton
60. Anthem by Moby

It takes what it takes

BookDealI’ve been heads down, writing my manuscript. I’m determined to make my deadline to my editor, and even more motivated to finish before the deadline. After years of writing without a deadline, doing so is…awesome.

I live a hobbit life. I don’t much leave my house, except to take my daughter to and from preschool or buy groceries. It’s like an extended residency. It takes a lot of focus to write, and I want very much not to be distracted.

But in between, at AWP and other public space, I’m met with congratulations for having sold two books. It feels good to hear such support, even though it also feels awkward to hear and receive and intake–is that really me? That’s not me, is it?  Huh. And then I’m relieved when the conversation moves on to other topics.

I hesitated before announcing my book deal. The official announcement in Publishers Marketplace went out in early March when only four people in my life, knew. My dear agent forwarded me a copy of what went out, and well–reading it gave me immense delight.

And I still didn’t publicize my deal, because I needed time to understand what this milestone meant to me, before I absorbed the reactions of other people. So that I could hold the personal experience near and dear, even within the public realm. I wanted clarity so that my personal feelings about this writing milestone would not be affected by public reaction. And that I could in the end, be moved and unmoved, in the healthiest of ways.

What did it mean to me?

It took awhile for me to understand what my book deals meant to me. The negotiation itself was exhilarating, but made me a nervous wreck; I had vertigo and nausea and high blood pressure and insomnia. I knew what I had to do, but my body just fell apart. Wow. Who knew that that would be the way I would react to the culmination of a dream?

But when the hubbub died down, and handshakes were made and before the deal went public, I had a chance to breathe and ponder. It didn’t mean that I was “finally a writer”; I have always been a writer. This wasn’t my end goal. Instead, this was the beginning of something, not the end.

This was the beginning of my new life. I’d turned the boat around. In my darkest hour, I stood up and reached for good things and through hard work, made them real. I made healthy choices and channeled all my pain into my work, and turned shit into fertilizer into blooms. I’d shown my daughter how to stand up and make positive change. I’d doubled down when I had nothing to lose.

It is the beginning of a new life, one defined on my own terms.

And that feels amazing. And that is what I hold most dear.

 

My publishing arc was an atypical and fortunate trajectory, one I couldn’t have anticipated when I started writing fiction in earnest twelve years ago.

Twelve. Years. Ago.

When I was talking to editors, after my BuzzFeed stroke essay went viral, more than a few asked me where I had been all these years. I said, “Well, I’ve been writing my novel.”

It takes what it takes. The novel draft is done, and it won’t take twelve years to revise and finish. The memoir is chugging along. The plan is to publish the memoir in late 2016. That’s not too far away.

I write everyday. There is work ahead. I put myself on a schedule a few months ago and thank goodness, I’m on schedule.

Thank you for reading. Thank you to the readers who read my JadePark blog and then found me again. Thank you to my friends who have answered every single text and email I’ve sent. Thank you for my mentors who have cheered me on.

 

The best of times, the worst of times, and the work

IMG_3141

I am a great believer in the idea that life experiences balance out. That bad times are followed by good times, and vice versa. That very very amazing things are almost always accompanied with very very horrible things. This gets me through dark times, knowing that things will get better. This also makes me very nervous when things are going very very well, wondering when the other shoe will drop.

I had an Annus Horrible Horribilis, last year. This of course leads me think about horrible anuses, so there is that. Funny.

These days, I am going through the worst of times in some ways, the best of times in others. And so, in a weird twisted way, I am enjoying the amazing things more than I would had there been an absence of the horrible.

After the worst few months of my life last year, I began writing again. I wasn’t sure when I would return to writing, given that I’d had a child the year previous, and was completely overwhelmed by my new life. But then I wrote an essay for The Rumpus. I wrote another piece for SunDog Lit. A couple stories were accepted for publication. And then I wrote an essay for BuzzFeed. Which then went viral. I am grateful for all the readers who read the essay and then took the time to retweet it, share it on Facebook, emailed it to friends, and posted it on their tumblrs and blogs. You all made a difference for me.

Because the agents and editors came calling. I had some exhilarating discussions with each. In the end, I made my choice, and am now partnered with an amazing agent.

Then my SunDog Lit piece was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

All this in the wake of a fourteen year old marriage that fell apart in spectacular fashion. While adjusting to new motherhood.

So now I face another year. It can’t be worse than 2013, and I doubt the lows will match those of 2014.

I usually put a “to-do” list of actionable items together at the beginning of each year. Like, ride the ferry around the bay or make bitters or plant a vegetable garden.

Last year I did not make such a list–OHDEAR I REALIZE I DID!Last year I made a list–but mostly, I just wanted to get my life back together in whatever form it would. 2014 was about self-care and finding my way back to joy. I gained a lot of weight, and I enjoyed gaining all the weight I’d lost in 2013, back. And then some.

This year–I just don’t want to think about lists. I just want to keep exploring and furthermore, do the work. 2015 is going to be about work. I’m working on completing my stroke memoir. I’m working on getting rigor back into my new life.

As much as I believe in the inevitable balance–I also believe that I can position myself the best I can for each upswing, making sure all my ducks are in a row, and doing the best work I can, to ensure the best outcome.

The creative process is oftentimes a black box. It’s not exciting to describe–as it is purely about work. I think artists also like to continue the myth of brilliance–that ideas come out of thin air, that words come together in sequence in a sudden revelation. Nope. It is work. It is sweat. It is frustration. It is craving a donut instead of looking at the page. It is anxiety. It is fear. It is exhilaration. It is hope. So much of it is also about waiting.

It is about showing up on the steps each day to greet the Muse, should she choose to stop by. You sweep the steps, waiting. Sometimes the Muse does not come by. Oftentimes, the Muse makes no appearance. But if you are not on the steps, and the Muse does not come by, then you miss her. So you wait. You sweep.

I was hanging out with a Famous Writer last year. He and I arranged a social gathering together. It was a very low key, unexciting process. Like, what-do-you-want-to-drink, I-am-at-Trader-Joes, What-time-should-we-meet, All-right, etc., etc. But when the party started rolling, he told the party-planning story multiple times. Each time, he revised his telling such that in the end, it was more along the lines of, “Man! Christine is a party animal! Holy crap! She made me get all this liquor! She made sure we were going to party hard! She made me get more!” (well, not exactly–he told it much better).

I looked up at him, “Hey! You’re revising!”

He cocked his head. Thought about what I’d said. Smiled.

No one noticed his acknowledgment of the work.

But I did.

Date of Time and Loss / Sundog Lit: Process

photo (15)

I have a new nonfiction piece called Date and Time of Loss up at Sundog Lit

A few months ago, Sundog Lit put out a call for submissions for its special (Letters from) the Road theme issue.

I wondered about what I’d write for a “Road” issue; I’ve certainly gone on my fair share of road trips across the U.S., and even Europe, driving through France, Italy, and through the British countryside. I’ve seen castles and compared road food, napped in the front seat, driven through bad storms, sighed relief at good weather, and admired geography from the inside of a car.

A few years ago, I was hit by a car while visiting Seattle on a road trip.

Those two events intersected.

Ha. I’d write about BEING ON THE ROAD. Like, literally.

I pulled up the police report to jog my memory.

Ha. I’d use the police report to structure the piece. The call for submissions wanted short work that transcended genre.

I’d title it after the first question in the report: Date and Time of Loss.

I began to write the piece–all the things I wanted to write about being hit by a car, and the shock I felt in its aftermath. Not being able to cross the street without flinching, feeling bruised and tender, feeling vulnerable, and feeling so so wounded. That the person I called first on that day, while in the crosswalk, is no longer available to me.

Another event in my life intersected with this trauma; the end of my marriage. That the two feel the same. I wove that pain into the piece.

I didn’t begin writing Date and Time of Loss with the intention of intertwining the two events. But that is what the work wanted me to do. And I hope I made the work, proud.