Last Writing Update for the Blah-est of Years

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My short story with Okey-Panky (Electric Literature) is out.

I was excited for exactly one day; now I’m imagining that the editor regretted accepting the story months ago, that reader response to this piece is at a historic low, etc.

Torquere Press has reverted the rights to my story, but hasn’t paid anyone yet. Thankfully B-cat’s family will be feeding me for Christmas, because I’ve misplaced my credit card and, either way, I’ll be broke ’til the reimbursement comes for the car accident.

Speaking of which… The second poem I wrote about B-cat’s nephew Spencer, who passed away this year, apparently got into the Yamadera Basho Museum 2016 haiku contest collection. I had forgotten about the contest completely because, you know, car accident.

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My poem (grafted onto the cover)

It forms a matching pair with my “Spencer” haiku, which won an award. This poem didn’t win anything, but being published by a museum commemorating Basho — arguably the greatest of haiku poets — is kind of cool.

Isn’t a downer the perfect way to end 2016? Happy Holidays!

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Yukon Trail

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Near Takhini River

You have died of dysentry.

I’ve just gotten back from the Yukon. My mother took me and my cousin J up to see the Aurora Borealis, and B-cat came along, too, for a distraction from being injured and cooped up with me in a basement.

I enjoyed going north in 2010 and am grateful to revisit the museums, huskies, outdoors, etc., but this has been a terribly stressful trip. The group dynamic is as follows:

  • My mother stops speaking English or eating meals whenever we go on trips (all three of which, excluding childhood ones, took place this year). She tries to dissuade me and J from eating, saying we’re too fat;
  • J is not fat. He is shy? grumpy? and only speaks to my mother when she speaks first and to me when the others aren’t around. He rarely talks to English speakers;
  • B-cat is an English speaker who makes occasional remarks to J and my mother, but mainly wants to chat up strangers;
  • I am the worst travel buddy.

 

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J and a Little Free Library by the half-frozen Yukon River

We do end up eating real food, but don’t see much of the Northern Lights through the clouds. During this time I’m still receiving rejection letters, an integral and awful part of writing fiction, and sending demand letters to Torquere Press, a publisher whose owners — Kristi Boulware-Talbot and Joanna Talbot — have now decided neither to pay its authors nor to return the rights to their work.

Then Trump talks to the president of Taiwan, and suddenly both pro-Trump and anti-Trump Americans are spouting strong opinions about Taiwan, whose very name confuses them because they’ve only skimmed through the Wiki:history article.

But I did see two red foxes, a dozen red squirrels, and a lot of nice people, so I guess this is just one of those trips that improve upon ending. If you like small, snowy towns, visit the Yukon — besides the lights, I recommend Mount McIntyre for the vigorous hike to the peak.

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J, me, and B-cat

Writing Writing Updates

Green Hills Literary Lantern has nominated my story, “Glass Tank“, for the Pushcart Prize. It is the second story I’ve written as an adult and the first I believed in, so much that with each rejection I grew a little more bewildered and desperate.

My favourite part about the whole experience is how, just before submitting it the last couple of times, I had slightly altered the last sentence, and when the editor of GHLL — professor & PhD in English and everything — sent me edits and suggestions, he changed it to the original wording.

And my poem about Spencer, B-cat’s nephew, won a Sakura Award in the VCBF Haiku Invitational.

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We met Spencer when he was a few days old, just before he went back to the hospital with a heart infection. He passed away four weeks later.

Litergasm

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Homemade cake and cookies, courtesy of Room

B-cat and I attended Room Magazine‘s issue launch/(belated) International Women’s Day event this past weekend.

My experience with Room, a Canadian women’s literary magazine, had been limited to entering and losing their fiction contest one year — and receiving a subscription with my entry, yay? — but the readings sounded like fun.

Plus, I’d always wanted to visit the historic Joy Kogawa House. It’s not as pretty as Emily Carr House, but the building is a reminder of the bit of Canadian history everyone’s comfortable forgetting: the internment of Japanese Canadians (and confiscation of their personal property) in WWII.

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They’re looking for volunteers, by the way

Roxanne Charles‘s artist talk about reviving without appropriating indigenous techniques and ideas was the highlight of the afternoon for us, though Cynthia Flood’s excerpt from her story was the one B-cat and I argued over for the next two days.

And then, and then…

The next day, I received an acceptance letter from Green Hills Literary Lantern. I saw the email soon after it arrived and started working on the suggested revisions then. B-cat took me to Benkei for a celebratory dinner of curry ramen before I returned to edit some more.

I’ve been bursting with both positive and negative feelings since (they’re not obeying the laws of physics, sadly), but it is such an honour to be included in a prestigious journal, alongside those who care about Literature with a capital L.

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Cherry blossoms (and my backpack) out in Vancouver

This is going to keep me from blowing my brains out until July at least!