Because my CNF tends to reiterate certain themes on my life - my adoption, my sisters, my loss of language and culture - sometimes I worry my work becomes repetitive. Readers might know I write to carefully examine and unpack the fine points of these issues, so maybe it’s OK to walk them back and forth through various parts and pieces of my life, crossing paths with another story, then another, then another that has not even begun to take shape. Our lives don’t consist of linear, parallel stories never intertwining with one another, and mine is no exception. I was thinking about this because while I was working on my CNF about persimmons, trying to make the edges fit nearly together, I realized they just weren’t going to. These events, themes are alive, organic, ubiquitous. Ultimately though the surface story touched on trying foods in Korea, these needed to be multiple pieces because the underlying themes were different.
Peek at “I Wish I Knew How To Love Persimmons” (working title)
I took the fruit from my host mother. It was bright, beautiful and had a slight give. When I bit into the flesh, it was too mushy for my American tongue. Doing my best to smile, I nodded politely to her, swallowing the mouthful of mush. I half-heartedly tried to convince myself it was good, as if liking persimmons would prove I was Korean—to whom, I didn’t know.
I’m still searching for a publication to accept my flash (horror?) fiction, “Circle the Drain.” This one started off as a more straightforward piece about motherhood and spiders but evolved over several iterations into the theme of reclaiming both my body and the country that disowned me. I’m still submitting it here and there, searching for the right editor who will take a chance on a weird story about eating my baby. Yup, that’s right. Ironically, I wrote a lot of if while I was holding my own baby who is almost 10 months. And so so cute.
Plugs for two writing groups I’ve really enjoyed:
Jonathan Neely’s You Have a Story
Finally — my friend, and incredibly talented writer, Cynthia Landesberg, has writing in the upcoming Grace and Gravity anthology!
While we may write about different stuff, I totally relate to that fear of becoming repetitive. I sometimes think that while readers are fine with 200 pages on the same topic if they think "I'm reading a book," all of those exact same words put into multiple emails that come over time might be less interesting.
On the other hand, I try to just look at that as part of the work: I know I have some main themes (trauma, my dad's sexuality and illness and lack of coping skills, making changes so as not to pass down destructive habits, etc.), but I have to work to keep it fresh. I (mostly) enjoy the challenge.
Thanks for the shoutout! I've loved writing with you.