Current Projects: Writing Is Hard

As promised, a brief discussion of my works-in-progress, for which I have given up all job opportunities:

1) The Waking World is my novel-length manuscript, an extension of my Master’s program thesis for Creative Writing.

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First fanart of TWW by a friend. Let it be known.

A radiotrophic fungus is scientifically engineered to clean up the world’s oceans of radioactivity following a massive world war and economic decimation. It is a godsend until it begins to spread and then mutate amidst the very radioactivity it is meant to eliminate: the spores the black mold emits are highly toxic and, with the black mold in all seven seas, they are everywhere. Leaders and scientists begin to look for a way out instead of a cure, and the recent Terra experiments on other planets seems to be the only solution. The “necessaries” are tapped to launch with the First Wave — politicians, engineers, doctors, scientists, and various genetic diversity lottery seats — and the rest are simply left behind.

Three years later, stragglers have either succumbed to illness or starvation, and those that have banded together rove the countryside for food, safety, and shelter. A single factory in a desert along the West Coast of America still manages to manufacture Pro-V — a protein-vitamin ration designed for longevity and sustainability on very little ingestion during the Last War — though it requires routine supply collection among the ravaged cities and towns nearby. One particular supply crew runs the rover Johanna: inefficient but shrewd captain, Mitsuo “Suo” Hasunuma; her second-in-command and tired mother to a two-year old, Quincy Nasib; their mechanic Gregor Cho; doctor Charlie Hong and her younger sister, a pilot-in training, Cassie; and amnesiac but tech-savvy and brilliant Eiji Tatsuyama.

Each chapter follows a third-person limited perspective of each crew member as they struggle through the factory’s closure, a hijacking by a mysterious rogue rover, and the discovery of several secrets about the Terra colonies and the First Wave of launches that changes everything about the end of the world as they know it.

I am currently writing about a chapter per week and it is killing me. Projected to finish by Thanksgiving if I continue at this speed.


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Nobody cares but this is my daily inspiration for children’s books.

2) Untitled children’s book(s), which currently lacks research, is my secondary project. Last fall I interned at Hawaii Literacy, a local non-profit organization, where I learned grant writing under Executive Director Suzanne Skjold. The majority of their clients are Polynesian and Micronesian and hugely underrepresented in the local children’s book scene. I’m a big supporter of media representation and believe that children are more engaged in material they find personally relatable — “this character is just like me” OR “I want to be just like this character” — and a working relationship with their culture and background aids in that relationship.

The current problem with this project is my own personal feelings about cultural appropriation. I do not believe it is my right to write for or about this culture, which I know very little about, no matter how strongly I feel about allowing these materials to aid in child literacy in Hawaii. I’m working on meeting with the directors at Hawaii Literacy to see if I can ghostwrite for someone with a working knowledge of these potential stories or what would aid local Polynesian and Micronesian children in learning to read, or if I could work with a local community on some kind of co-authorship.

Side note: The second half of this project is something I can currently tackle which is working on children’s books on Okinawan culture (I am Japanese-Okinawan). I am deeply interested in this project but would have less footing into the publishing world as this would probably not be connected with Hawaii Literacy.

 


That’s life right now, with occasional interruptions into job-searching I should not be doing in the first place. My future agent/personal coach, Cya (go read her blog), yells at me often. Writing is hard, guys. That should be the tagline of this blog. (Edit: Have now changed it to the subheading of this post.)

Next time I will discuss the importance of a community of writers and how to write without the pressures of academia — hint: these two go hand-in-hand. Personal anecdotes will abound. Look forward to it. I’ll try to update weekly for now. Now have the picture that gets me through the hard times:

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The First Mistake

So I’m gearing up to turn down a decent job to live the dream, or whatever.

I pretty much followed the Parental Commandments: high school, college, graduate school. Employment was supposed to be next, but I soon learned that going through the motions of job searching is worse than writing any thesis or dissertation, especially when you have a Master’s degree in English — creative writing to boot — to sell. The logical conclusion, of course, was to throw all this stress overboard and just…not do any of that.

Weirdly enough, the Parental Unit is on board with this decision. I have until the end of the year to finish my novel manuscript (a continuation of my Master’s creative thesis) and begin a potential children’s book for minority cultures in collaboration with Hawaii Literacy, a non-profit organization that works with primarily ESL children and their parents to teach them reading and writing skills.

I was told repeatedly that a blog is a great first step to this whole writing thing but so far all it’s done is take up a hell of a lot of time away from my actual writing. So the blog is plain, the Twitter is new and frightening, and, you know, life goes on.

I’ll write about the above writing projects next time. Intro posts make me nervous. Basically: Let’s do this shit.
PS: Linking to a blog post I did for Cya and Plutark, my dear friends over at 2WriterNot2Write, which is a great resource for beginning writers.