Magic and the Intellect: A Remarkable Occurrence at AWP 2014

AWP 2014So for the first time, I’m attending AWP, the annual conference of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. I wasn’t planning to blog about the experience at all. But something extraordinary went down this morning at a panel called “Magic and the Intellect.” What follows isn’t an objective “report” of what happened. A lot of other people were there, and each would have a different telling. This one’s mine. Continue reading

10 Questions About My Book: A Next Big Thing Blog Hop Posting

Reference books for my La Pérouse project

My friend, writer and fellow (sister?) Hedgebrook alum Christine Lee Zilka, tagged me this week to talk about my current writing project as part of a “Next Big Thing” blog hop.

I don’t ordinarily go for these “I’ll-link-to-your-blog-if-you-link-to-mine” arrangements, but this one, which involves answering ten specific questions about a current or next project, actually looked fun. And Christine’s quite engaging post, with its great photo of her door-o’-color-coded-post-its, inspired me to give it a try. Continue reading

On Writing Slowly

Frowning over every word.

I’m an incredibly slow writer. How slow? Well, there was five minutes of keyboard silence between the completion of that first sentence (“I’m an incredibly slow writer.”) and the arrival of the second one (“How slow?”). And that’s fast for me.

Now you know why I blog so seldom. (Another break while I check my dictionary to see if one blogs seldom or seldomly. Turns out “seldom” is both adverb and adjective. How nice to have that question settled. Another minute while I meditate on that and on the always reliable pleasures of the dictionary.)

This slow thinking coupled with obsessiveness is also why, after seven years of not-exactly-unrelenting-but-pretty-sustained work, my book manuscript is only now crawling toward completion.

Then there’s the research. Continue reading

On Being Mistaken for the Other Japanese-American Writer in Town: Not the Rant You’re Expecting

The other day I ran into an acquaintance in town. We don’t know each other well and hadn’t seen each other in several months, so I reminded her of my name.

“Yes, of course!” she said. “Didn’t your book just come out?”

I laughed. “No, not yet.” And then it clicked. “You’re thinking of Brenda Nakamoto,” I said.

“Oh, you’re right!” she said. We both laughed, then shared a few pleasantries before going our separate ways.

I know people who would have been offended by this encounter. There goes another white person thinking all Asians look alike and are interchangeable, etc. Continue reading

Spring Rain

lime-green raincoat

It’s another stormy morning in northern California. A friend calls at 8:30. Weather is the only thing we’re ever at odds about. She loves the Central Valley’s hot, dry summers. I do not. I like the rainy season, the rainier the better.

“Reality check,” she says. “Do you still prefer this to a week of 100-degree weather?”

“Oh, yes,” I say. I tell her about our sunroom, which has been leaking for two years. “But other than that, I love it.”

“I just don’t get it,” she says, but she still loves me. That’s true friendship, right there.

Continue reading


reorganized shelves

Two weekends ago, my spouse and I went to a dinner party in Berkeley. When we got there, I realized I hadn’t been out of Davis since the last time we’d been at the same friends’ house for their annual holiday party in mid-December. Two months I’d spent never leaving Davis, California. What was wrong with me?

I’ve lived in cities where one might spend months at a stretch without leaving its borders and never run out of interesting things to do. Tokyo. San Francisco. Davis is not one of these places, although for a town of its size, it does surprisingly well.

But I wasn’t sampling the delights of my current hometown. I spent nearly every minute of those two months at home. I spent nearly every minute of those two months indoors. This is northern California. The weather’s mild. One doesn’t have to be house-bound through January and February.

So what was I doing?

Continue reading