Blogroll

When I'm not here, you may find me wandering the pages below. (If I'm a regular visitor to your site and I've left your link off or mislinked to you, please let me know! And likewise, if you've blogrolled me, please check that my link is updated: thisroamanticlife.blogspot.com. The extra (a) makes all the difference!)

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For posts sorted by date or label, see the links below.

For posts on frequently referenced topics, click the buttons to the right.

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Body: in sickness and in health

I won't lie; this body and I have had our issues with each other for many years. Body image -- sure. Physical and mental overextension -- comes with being a Type A kind of girl. I still struggle with these things, so they show up from time to time in my writing.

More recently, illness, pure but not simple, has added itself to the mix in a multi-system sort of way. And the challenges in figuring out exactly what's gone wrong are many. As problems have revealed themselves in the last few years, beginning with reactive hypoglycemia in late 2008, I've documented them here, partly to gain a little clarity on managing complex conditions but mostly to give voice to vulnerabilities I feel but don't normally share with anyone face to face. Better out than in, they say, right? (Oh yes, humor is one way I deal.)

The links below cover the different angles I've examined (and from which I've been examined) within that experience.

Travel: neither here nor there

When the person you're married to lives two time zones away, you log a fair number of frequent flier miles. And if you blog about commuter relationships, you log quite a few posts en route too.

Since we're no longer in separate places, I blog less often from airports. But we do travel -- together now! -- which is much more fun to write about. So in addition to thoughts on our years of commuting, the links below cover the places we've been as a pair and, in some cases, the adventures that have happened on the way.

Writing: the long and short of it

Why do I do it? Good question. Maybe it's not so much that I like to write but that I have to write, even when the words refuse to stick to the page. Believe me, I've tried doing other things like majoring in biochemistry (freshman fall, many semesters ago). Within a year, I'd switched to English with a concentration in creative writing and wasn't looking back.

After graduating, I taught English for a few years and then worked as an editor, which I still do freelance. In 2007, I applied and got into an MFA program at a place I like to call Little U. on the Prairie. I finished my degree in 2011 and have been balancing tutoring and writing on my own ever since.

The following links cover the writing I've done about writing: process, content, obstacles, you name it. It's not always pretty. But some part of me loves it, even when it's hard. And this is the result.

Heart: family and friends

I'd have a hard time explaining who I am without being able to talk about the family I grew up in as well as the people I've met beyond its bounds. But even with such context, it's not easy! In the simplest terms, I'm a first-generation Asian-American who has spent most of this life caught between cultures. That, of course, doesn't even begin to describe what I mean to, but there's my first stab at the heart of it all.

That's what this group of posts is reserved for -- heart. The essential parts of my life whose influences I carry with me, for better or worse. The links below cover what I've written as I've learned how these forces work within me, for me, against me, in spite of me. They anchor me even as they change me, and they keep life interesting.

Recommended reading

What do I do when there's too much on my mind and my words won't stick to the page? I escape into someone else's thoughts. Below is a collection of books and articles that have been sources of information, inspiration, and occasional insight for my own work.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

La, la, la, la, not listening ...


The end of the semester is coming quickly, which means I have to send my 40-odd pages of rough draft to my thesis committee so I can get feedback before everyone disappears for the holidays. I was cool with that until earlier this week, when my advisor mentioned the one word I've been trying not to think about since my prospectus meeting in May ...

Structure.

My advisor is absolutely right in poking me about this bugaboo of mine. But I've been dreading it, knowing it was coming. If you've been following along, you know that my committee essentially told me to scrap the outline I'd come up with and just play with my writing, see what comes out, return to my intuition. So I did exactly that. I wrote in scenes, threw my heart into the emotional side of the words rather than worry about technical finesse. The result is that I have lots of solid vignettes on the page in raw form. But now, I have to find a way to string them together, to pin them to some kind of larger narrative arc. And I am horrible at that.

I wrote a long letter back to my advisor with my initial thoughts on what form that arc might take, based on the prospectus I'd submitted at the end of the spring, but I was fairly candid about how I wasn't sure it was the right way to go anymore. The reason: the family drama that occurred between then and now.

Yeeeeeeeeees, writing about family is messy on its own, but it gets even messier when your relationships with certain members of your family change significantly. So, basically, I'm not the same person I was when I wrote the prospectus, and the narrative arc I established then no longer helps me tell a true story from my current point of view, attitude, etc. Sigh. I'm glad that I've started the process of thinking out loud about this puzzle and that I've explained where I'm coming from to my advisor, but I really hope she writes back soon. I'm more than mildly worried that now she thinks I'm a total spaz.

5 comments:

Good Enough Woman said...

It makes sense to me that your narrative structure--since it's based on relationships that still exist--is a moving target. I empathize with the challenges and hope that your supervisors are understanding and helpful! Alas, I, myself, have no advice.

Just blind support! Yay for your 40 pages!

TKW said...

Ah, the joys of family dynamics...

Hope you get word from your advisor soon, and like GEW said, congrats on the 40 pages.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

GEW -- moving target is the perfect way to describe it. Maybe that's why blogging is so much easier. The arc is life as it happens.

TKW -- yes, methinks my joy runneth over ;). I have to say, before I read your blog, it never dawned on me to inject humor (wry or otherwise) into writing about the situation while still staying true to the feelings underneath. You balance that well.

French Fancy said...

Don't some things just seem too awful to even contemplate most of the time. You really have my sympathies and I hope you get a quick reply so you can make a start on the NS bogey words.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, FF! Yes, sometimes it is too tough to contemplate. In an ironic way, though, writing makes it easier too. You think, you write, and in those acts, you process. Whatever's weighing on me doesn't go away or allow itself to be let go until the processing happens.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

La, la, la, la, not listening ...


The end of the semester is coming quickly, which means I have to send my 40-odd pages of rough draft to my thesis committee so I can get feedback before everyone disappears for the holidays. I was cool with that until earlier this week, when my advisor mentioned the one word I've been trying not to think about since my prospectus meeting in May ...

Structure.

My advisor is absolutely right in poking me about this bugaboo of mine. But I've been dreading it, knowing it was coming. If you've been following along, you know that my committee essentially told me to scrap the outline I'd come up with and just play with my writing, see what comes out, return to my intuition. So I did exactly that. I wrote in scenes, threw my heart into the emotional side of the words rather than worry about technical finesse. The result is that I have lots of solid vignettes on the page in raw form. But now, I have to find a way to string them together, to pin them to some kind of larger narrative arc. And I am horrible at that.

I wrote a long letter back to my advisor with my initial thoughts on what form that arc might take, based on the prospectus I'd submitted at the end of the spring, but I was fairly candid about how I wasn't sure it was the right way to go anymore. The reason: the family drama that occurred between then and now.

Yeeeeeeeeees, writing about family is messy on its own, but it gets even messier when your relationships with certain members of your family change significantly. So, basically, I'm not the same person I was when I wrote the prospectus, and the narrative arc I established then no longer helps me tell a true story from my current point of view, attitude, etc. Sigh. I'm glad that I've started the process of thinking out loud about this puzzle and that I've explained where I'm coming from to my advisor, but I really hope she writes back soon. I'm more than mildly worried that now she thinks I'm a total spaz.

5 comments:

Good Enough Woman said...

It makes sense to me that your narrative structure--since it's based on relationships that still exist--is a moving target. I empathize with the challenges and hope that your supervisors are understanding and helpful! Alas, I, myself, have no advice.

Just blind support! Yay for your 40 pages!

TKW said...

Ah, the joys of family dynamics...

Hope you get word from your advisor soon, and like GEW said, congrats on the 40 pages.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

GEW -- moving target is the perfect way to describe it. Maybe that's why blogging is so much easier. The arc is life as it happens.

TKW -- yes, methinks my joy runneth over ;). I have to say, before I read your blog, it never dawned on me to inject humor (wry or otherwise) into writing about the situation while still staying true to the feelings underneath. You balance that well.

French Fancy said...

Don't some things just seem too awful to even contemplate most of the time. You really have my sympathies and I hope you get a quick reply so you can make a start on the NS bogey words.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, FF! Yes, sometimes it is too tough to contemplate. In an ironic way, though, writing makes it easier too. You think, you write, and in those acts, you process. Whatever's weighing on me doesn't go away or allow itself to be let go until the processing happens.