When were you bona fide?

For a short, sad, period, I felt that as long as I published one article a month, I was what I called “real.”

Jenny from Seattle writes: At what point did you think you could actually become a bona fide writer—meaning you thought you could do it professionally and even make $$ at it?

I am making up, here, that by bona fide, you mean published. Through circumstances I can hardly take credit for, I published the first article I wrote. Got paid, too; woo hoo!  Three hundred dollars. As this became my introduction to publishing, being paid for my work was just the way it was.

Also early on, I made the decision that I did not want to be a full-time freelancer. Freelancers spend a great deal of time looking for work, a great deal of which is business writing (ad copy, brochures, newsletters), none of which interested me. I decided to write what I wanted and then try to publish it. I supported myself  with full-time job marketing jobs (ad copy, brochures, newsletters; so there) but I did not think of myself as a sales assistant. I thought of myself as a writer.

For a short, sad, period, I felt that as long as I published one article a month, I was what I called “real.” Relatively quickly, I established myself as a regular freelancer for the then-new Seattle weekly tabloid, The Stranger, eventually going on the masthead as a contributing writer. I didn’t have the resume or training to land a full-time reporter position, but the editor, Emily White, recognized that I had a voice and a world view. She sent me out a lot, for which I remain grateful.

Perhaps four years into working full-time/writing around the edges, earning an extra few grand a year from freelancing, I apparently decided that I never again wished to earn even that little as a writer, because I undertook a novel.

Alle Interviewed: The Glam continues

It is 3pm.

As I dust off my smashing ensemble, warm up my voice, wonder why I never have pantyhose when I need them, and run through my reading one last time, I peer at my brand-new blog (non-obsessively, I assure you) to discover the first of a two-part interview with me on Too Fond Of Books.

A “Spotlight Interview.” Oooooh!

2FOB is an cataloguing of some largess, smart opinion about things read and stuff thought. Give it a gander.

I hope to see some of you tonight at Town hall (7:30PM). Wish me luck.

The Winning Essay

Many requests, many requests, bless your reading hearts.

As part of the winning package (the reading, the money, The Glam), there is the publication.

Hugo House will publish My 70s Avatar on their site “some time after the debut reading,” according to my sources. Oh, the tease! The mystery! Such is The Glam.

I ‘ll let you know as soon as I know. I can reveal this: my avatar relates to Margaret. And I ain’t talkin’ Thatcher.

Keep that dial here …

The Other “Other” Reader: Vikram Chandra

Rock on, Vikram Chandra, you hunk.

It is time for too much information.

  • The only blogs I read with any regularity are The Superficial and Go Fug Yourself. (I will not post the links. I will not enable.)
  • I once spent a night watching a full seven hours of Law & Order re-runs. This occured not that long ago. I am probably watching one right now.
  • I have a deep, deep fascination with crime stories set in Asia.

My lower brow is not relegated to words and images. It used to be that every so often, I felt an absolute need for plastic nachos from the 7-11. I am happy to report that I no longer crave utter shit-for-food. I hope I never say the same about shit-for-lit, Asian crime stories. The descriptions of Asian customs; the weird food, italicized, which better writers allow the reader to dechipher from context. I can’t say I admire the generally white protagonists who  fall in love with hookers. (Delusional, imperialists bastards.) I hotly object to the portrayal of the female characters, especially the sweet ones forced, Miss Saigon-like, into a life of skank. Above all, I abhor the writing. Yet I suck it up, the way I did articles about the effects of Olestra products. (Who could resist the term “anal leakage?”)

I have twice read Bangkok 8. I would gladly sludge through the shlock that could be Singapore Simpers As She Stabs The Imperialist Loser Who Has To Pay For Sex. However, Vikram Chandra’s latest novel, Sacred Games, means I won’t have to.

Chandra’s first book, Red Earth and Pouring Rain, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Published Book, as well as the David Higham Prize for Fiction. His  short story collection, evocatively titled Love and Longing in Bombay, also won the Commonwealth, this time for for Best Book.

One of the stories from Love and Longing gives us the character we follow through Sacred Games (which has won too many “Notable Books” from too may journals to post, here). It’s a Asian crime novel with compelling characters and gorgeous, floating prose. OK, so the female characters are beautiful. I’ll deal. Chandra has given me the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon of Chop Sockey Lit.  I’m sucking it up. All 900 pages of it.

(Who else gets to publish 900 pages? Maxine Hong Kingston. Once.)

Rock on, Vikram Chandra, you hunk. What’s your Avatar?

Get Yer Tix!

Seattle P-I: RIP

Today, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer prints its last.

The P-I, as it is known about town, is not only the first newpaper to publish here in the ekvelt (Yiddish for “the hinterland”), it is also Seattle’s oldest continually operating business. By shutting down its print publication, The P-I becomes the first major daily to publish solely on online.

 Read all about it, for the last time, here.

One of the “Other” Readers: Jennifer Finney Boylan

Ms. Boylan has the lightening wit of a Restoration comedy clown, and balls the size of England.

Jennifer Finney Boylan is a long drink of water with ginger hair and the mouth of a sailor, which I’d lay money was true back when she was a man. If she ever was. Jenny—as she calls herself when not on Oprah as the go-to gal for sex-change dishing—defines her check-box as ” born transgendered.” She married, published (Remind Me to Murder You Later, Getting In) earned tenure, and fathered two children as James Finney Boylan. Until 2001.

Hello world. Meet Jennifer Finney Boylan.

Two memoirs later (She’s Not There, winner of the Lambda Award, and a follow-up, I’m Looking Through You), Jenny was touring for the latter when I caught her act at Elliot Bay Books. Every seventh word was unprintable (and I used to write for The Stranger). The ones that weren’t were unbelievably funny. Ms. Boylan has the lightening wit of a Restoration comedy clown, and balls the size of England. (Can I say that?) She is to the lit scene what Barak Obama was to the ’04 Democratic Convention, except that she is white. And now has a vagina.

What will this rock-star-hilarious, tranny-heroine say about her Avatar? And what will she think of my piece?

Get yer tix: brownpapertickets.com.

More on My Avatar—because I WON

We now move out of the sonorous passive voice, as it is considered poor writing.

Perhaps it is not obvious, but I am still reveling in the fact that I won.

Many of you wanted to know more about the contest: every year since it opened its Victorian doors, Richard Hugo House throws a New Works Competition. A theme is given, a word count maximum established, and a date set by which submissions must be received. We now move out of the sonorous passive voice, as it is considered poor writing, to say that because I won, I am invited to read at the fourth and final installment of this year’s Hugo Literary Series, alongside Famous Writers.

We will be sharing our work around the theme “My Avatar” at Seattle’s top-notch literary venue Town Hall. Included on the evening’s bill are Jennifer Boylan and Vikram Chandra.

Oh, yes; A-hem: and me. Because I won.

For those Philistines who have not connected with the work of  “Jenny” and “Vik” (??), future blog posts will inform and inspire. You. To come.

Get yer tix at: brownpapertickets.com.