Thursday, June 29, 2006

Literary Toolbox

I'll be doing a panel for PEN USA West this weekend. Come check it out. There will be good discusion about poetry, fiction, and memoir. There will also be a talk with agents and publishers. I'll be on at 10am on the fiction panel. I'll be joining the likes of Leslie Schwartz, Jenoyne Addams, and Kate Gale.

PEN USA presents:
Writers' Toolbox Day
in Cooperation with the City of West Hollywood
Saturday, July 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Plummer Park 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90046 Free admission

Monday, June 26, 2006

Literary Getaway: A Cheap Motel

I have some writing deadlines I have to meet. I could't focus at home, so I rented a room in cheap motel for the weekend. Boy, what a change in location can do!

I managed to churn out some much needed writing. Fortunately, the motel wasn't capable of free wireless internet or else I would have spent hours googling useless information.

I encourage students to go away and write sometimes. If you can afford a weekend away to clear your thoughts and get perspective, do it.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Literary Craig's List

Every once and awhile, I scan the writing opportunities on Craig's List. I hope to find some cool writing gig that will take me away from the drudgery of ordinary life. Then I saw this:

★ Experienced Writer For DIFFERENT Adult Company (Full Time)

Experienced Writer Needed For High End Adult Internet/Production Firm
Know how to write conversationally but still know when to use "whom"?
Are you able to write in the style of someone else with ease?
Do you thrive on getting all the details just right?

A little about the company:
We're a very successful adult video production company specializing in real straight men testing their sexual boundaries and we're at the top of our game. Customers are intensely loyal to our brand and they're incredibly happy with the content. Yet there's one repeat complaint: the release schedule isn't quick enough.

Our competition releases a new video at least once a week. We average one full video every three. An attention to detail unheard of in the industry means that we're a filet mignon in a sea of cheeseburgers... but given a choice between a cheeseburger a day or not eating for three days (while that filet's being prepared), it becomes a more difficult equation for the customer.

Must be willing to relocate to Las Vegas.

Wow, the chance to be a full-time writer, but I don't want to live in Las Vegas. I guess that counts me out.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Literary Encounter: Philip Kan Gotanda

During the Asian American Theatre Conference, I had the opportunity to sit down with playwright Philip Kan Gotanda. I hadn't seen him in atleast ten years. He knew me as an actor and he was pleased to know that I'd transitioned to writing. When I was much younger, I strived to be the kind of artist Philip is. I still do.

We talked writing and he said, "You have to bleed a little, give a little of your flesh to write what you write."

Indeed, indeed.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Literary Roots

I'd been checking out "The Next Big Bang," The Asian American Theatre Conference. It's quite amazing. I have strong theatre roots, something I'd forgotten about when I threw myself into writing novels.

This conference forced me to rekindle my love for the Theatre. Before I wrote for the page, I wrote for the stage. I ran into theatre artists that I hadn't seen in eons. I talked to Philip Kan Gotanda, Alice Tuan, Dan Kwong, Leilani Chan, Jessica Hagedorn, and more!

It was cool seeing and talking theatre again. I got a lump in my throat seeing people perform their hearts out. (If you haven't noticed I changed the "About Me" to reflect more of my work for the stage.) I think I'm gonna step back into the (theatre) ring again. It's time.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Literary Love: My Computer

I can't begin to tell you how having a laptop has changed my writing life. I can now write anywhere. I used to be limited to my home computer. Now, I can go the library and write. I can be that dork at a cafe hogging all the good tables while he stares intently at his screen. I can't wait to take a trip and write on a plane. Then I can be that idiot who holds up the security line because he has to take his computer out of his case. Yes!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Literary Pride

I marched in Pride for the umpteenth time over the weekend. This still surprises me. I once believed that in order for me to have any kind of a succesful creative life, I had to stay in the closet. Indeed, being gay has inspired many stories. My work has also been supported by the gay and lesbian community. And the straight community who find value in reading diverse voices.

I'm reminded of the X-Men Movie: The Last Stand. The mutants are given the opportunity to "cure" themselves of their "illness." There's nothing to cure, said Storm. There's nothing wrong with you.

If I had the opportunity to cure my gayness, would I take it? Hail Naw. Why would I give up my special powers?

(photo courtesy of Kristina Wong)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Literary Office

I always had this dream that someday I'd write full-time. I imagined myself renting out a little office somewhere. I saw myself getting up in the mornings and going to my "office" to work on a novel or some short story.

Well, I'd been taking my laptop and going to the library. I'd sit among all those books. There's something about that environment that is so inspiring. (Writing at home hasn't been all that productive, because all I can think of is that someday I should pick up all those clothes strewn on the floor.) I'm writing in the library and thinking, you know, what's stopping me from using this library as my "office." And I don't have to pay rent!

I'm telling you there's magic in a library. Surrounded by all those stories, you can't help but want to write your own.

I'd been dragging my feet on fine-tuning the pages of my third novel. (I'm up to page 89!) In the library, with all that quiet, I found the courage to flesh out the first two chapters. I knew the pages were rough, but with the rewrites, they felt more whole. I had a physical reaction to it. My shoulders relaxed and I felt like I had saved a baby from drowning.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Literary Refresher: Grammar

I decided to take a refresher course on grammar. The last time I did something like this was in 1998. I found it most useful then and I found it still useful. I have to admit that sometimes I wonder if I'm using a comma or semi-colon properly. Even though I have grammar books at home, information seems to stick best when I'm in a classroom.

I gave up my Sunday morning to take "Grammar, from A-Z" taught by longtime news and copy editor Gary North. I knew I had graduated to being a full-time dork when I was fully engaged in a discussion on the proper usage of "that vs. which" and "who vs. whom."

I was completely fascinated with various Style Guides that dictated whether a period went within or outside of quotes. I always assumed that I was an old "Elements of Style" writer, basing my punctuation on the classic by Strunk and White. Indeed, I'd probably been more of an "Associated Press Style Guide" writer, influenced by material I'd read in newspapers and magazines.

What I appreciated about the class was the reinforcement that the English language is forever evolving, adding new words all the time (sushi, en masse) and witnessing new rules evolve (as in ending a sentence with a prepostion, like "Where you at?")

As we take from computer lingo or pop music, an eloquent sentence in the near future might look like this: "I saw U at my frend's crib...Y U play me like dat?:(" The language that we are using now, might become as arcane as the language of Shakespeare's time.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Literary Life: My Column; Part Dalawa (two)

The latest issue of Arts and Understanding, America's AIDS magazine, is out. Check out my column "From the Trenches." It focuses on longtime workers in the AIDS field. I profiled Vince Crisostomo, an AIDS advocate for 19 years.

If you missed my last column in the January issue, here is a link: