2009 Retrospective / 2010 Resolutions

2009 was a year of making peace, making space, and taking risks for me. 2008 landed with a decided *thud* with my own difficulty juggling school and work ending with leaving the Vermont MFA program and rethinking this whole writer thing - two balls on the ground lolling away and one ball in hand - I had my editorial job at least.

Among the changes this year though was a heightened sense of abundance and gratitude. I've got a lot of stuff going on, a lot of stuff in my life, and just a lot of stuff - and that's a good thing from a prosperity viewpoint. I'm grateful that my family and I still have a house to live in, fairly good health, and jobs to support it all. But I also realized that more 'stuff' on top of existing 'stuff' makes for more stress than I'd realized.

So first, the Good Stuff with thoughts on how they might pan out again in 2010:

1) Gave writing workshops at WSU's Women of Color Conference in February, met incredible visionaries and visionary-apprentices. This was a repeat gig of one I did four years ago. I was invited back by students who had attended my workshops as freshmen and were seniors ready to step into the world. It was great to see them and reconnect. I hope they'll bring me back for another conference, but likely it won't be for a couple of years;

2) Re-opened my application to the Rainier Writing Workshop, the MFA program based at Pacific Lutheran University. Stan Rubin was incredibly generous and allowed me to reopen my application after I told him that I had left VCFA program. I was nervous but very pleased when he found me a place in this year's workshop. In 2010... see #5 below.

3) Discovered Improv. It was a lark, really. Something to still the tension of returning to school and take a second shot at a dream. I went to a free drop-in class and fell in love with Yes, And!, Again!, and StorySpine. It will be good for my performance storytelling, I said to myself. Myself said, it's good for your heart. I'm in the middle of my second round of classes and so happy I stayed. I'll admit, though, I'm not sure if classes will fit in my 2010 schedule. Handling my schedule in a more realistic manner will definitely be a challenge.

4) StageTime. Well, if you're gonna study improv, then you may as well practice it too. Monthly storytelling at the library and the occasional set at First Friday Concerts with Swil Kanim gave me opportunity to see what improv could do for my Telling. They tell me I look much more animated on stage and I have to believe them, cause from the inside the stories are definitely more alive. There's definitely the possibility of more gigs in 2010, but I'll have to carefully plan them so they don't completely take over my schedule.

5) Ten days of writing wonderfulness. The Rainier Writing Workshop in a word: Bliss. Getting up for 8 am lectures, honing pieces during critiques, lunch with new friends, afternoon classes, dinner with the whole program, and evening readings created the most satisfying, healing, challenging experience I've ever had. I feel incredibly blessed to have worked with so many good writers, students and faculty both. Really looking forward to the 2010 RWW workshop. Is it August yet?

6) Speaking of good writers, Brenda Miller as my writing mentor this first year of RWW? Perfection. She knows when to be gentle and when to call me on my insecurities. She knows my writing can be strong and believes in me. And I get to work with her for an entire year! It will be really interesting to see who I matched with the second half of 2010.

7) Publication of "Yellow is for Luck." See entry below. Nuff said. Oh, except that I hope to get out and do some readings to promote the book.

8) Events, Events, Events - Tao Po! Online Writer's Workshop (promotion and facilitation), House Concert w/Swil Kanim (management), Elements of Honor Workshop with Swil Kanim (promotion and management), Ladders to the Moon Concert (performer), Raven Dances - Invite the Light with Gene Tagaban (performer), Guild Tells (performer), Christmas Improv (performer). Honestly, each event deserves it's own entry, but they all represent connections with the storytelling community and deepening relationships with visionaries. In 2010, I plan on attending the First International Babaylan Conference in Sonoma, CA and organizing additional Elements of Honor Workshops.

9) Finishing and submitting "Pause Midflight" a poetry chapbook. Compiling all my published and unpublished poetry into one chapbook was nerve-wracking and satisfying all at once. Sending it out to contests definitely put me back into nerve-wracking territory. Having it rejected by one contest, devastating. Yes, I know this means I'm still a thin-skinned writer, but I do know that it will be published in 2010 and I'll probably add book design to my list of skills.

10) Older and hopefully wiser. This year I really tried to pay attention to what works for me, what supports my passion, what's hindering my progress, and generally trying to be more optimistic about my life. I've learned to tap into some old practices (beading! so good to be back to that) and revisited some concepts that have been refined since I practiced them 20 years ago. In 2010, I'll continue to refine the practices with a view to living smarter not harder.

Lots of Good Stuff in 2009 plus meeting and getting to know people like Lori Marshall, Felix Solomon, Karen Murphy and many others. There was stuff though that didn't get accomplished, or got sorta accomplished but fell a bit short.

1) Get healthy. I have a WiiFit. I have a pedometer on my iTouch. I listened to subliminal MP3s. I went to Starbucks alot. I discovered I like big breakfasts on writing days. I didn't get very healthy. *sigh* So in 2010, less Starbucks, more WiiFit.

2) Write online more consistently. Twitter and Facebook have been fun to join, but the games on FB... and the constant Tweets... my blog hasn't been updated very often and I haven't figured out what to do with my WordPress account. I also have a Ning account, a LinkedIn account, and a Ch.mp site. Nothing is synched and it's all very time consuming. 2010 will be about refocusing on this blog and getting Twitter and FB to play nice. The other accounts? Gonna be interesting to see if they survive.

3) Write daily, at least in my 5 year calendar. Been pretty good about keeping my daily calendar up. I had gaps that I filled later, and gaps now that need to be filled. I think the 5 year diary is a good practice so it's a keeper in 2010.

4) Write new stuff, write new stuff, write new stuff. This one I beat myself up about daily 'cause I haven't been writing much new stuff. I've been going weeks without writing much at all and that's only made it worse. So in 2010 I'll be looking for ways to turn my anxiety into words on the page.

5) Secure multiple streams of income. This one has been on the backburner but also in the back of my mind the entire year. With the economy unsteady and the layoffs at work, it only makes sense. But it's also time consuming. I'm open to alternate income streams, but how to devote the time to build new business with family, school, and work? It's a question I'll need to settle in my mind in 2010.

My theme for 2010 will be gentleness. I am enthusiastic about a lot of different projects and people right now and I need to allow the space for reflection and that will require being gentle with myself. To not push too hard and to not use busy-ness to get in the way of taking care of my health and my soul. Building 2010 on the experiences of 2009. I'm cautiously optimistic.


Growing Up Filipino II

I love books. The weight. The smell. The deliberate slowness of reading and turning a page and reading some more.

The screen just isn't the same and that's good and bad. Good for scanning and absorbing information quickly. Bad for reflection and immersion.

I get lost in the process of reading books, lost in new worlds and new people.

Escapism doesn't begin to cover the sensation of unfolding a completely different universe with the flick of the wrist as each page turns.

My author copies of Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults arrived a couple of weeks ago.

In the run-up to Christmas, I had just enough time to show it off to a few friends and family, but very little time to really absorb what I held in my hands.

My first in-book publication.

Don't misunderstand - I'm grateful to the print and online magazines that have published my poetry and reviews. Each byline meant that I became less a could-be writer and more a in-fact writer.

But to hold my story in my hands, all printed and bound up with fabulous work by authors I admire as really-real writers, I stepped into a whole new world I knew existed, but didn't think I had the key to open.

With a flick of my wrist, I was there, in the book, a story peering back at me the reader, a reader peering into a writer's world and that writer was me.

And by 'was' I mean a past me, the one who wrote the snippet of the story over 5 years ago, polished it and submitted it 2 years ago, received an acceptance and proofed my galley last year, and proofed it again this year.

I'd been told that the birthing of a story takes a long time, and I thought that only meant the creation of it. I understand now that there's also the production of it, the long steps from one universe to the next. Who knew that the the distance from the front of the wardrobe to the back was so long, Lucy?

So, there's writing, then there's book-making, and now comes the book promoting.

The hardcover version Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults is now available at Amazon and the soft and hardcopy versions can be ordered from your local brick and mortar store. Just tell them that they can get them from Ingram or Baker & Taylor.

If you know any of the contributors (Dean Francis Alfar, Katrina Ramos Atienza, Maria Victoria Beltran, M.G. Bertulfo, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Amalia B. Bueno, Max Gutierrez, Leslieann Hobayan, Jaime An Lim, Paulino Lim Jr., Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor, Dolores de Manuel, Rashaan Alexis Meneses, Veronica Montes, Charlson Ong, Marily Ysip Orosa, Kannika Claudine D. Peña, Oscar Peñaranda, Edgar Poma, Tony Robles, Brian Ascalon Roley, Jonathan Jimena Siason, Aileen Suzara, Geronimo G. Tagatac, Marianne Villanueva) ask your bookstore owner if they'll set up a reading to promo the book, then let your friends, family, and total strangers you meet at the coffee shop or grocery store know.

Step into the stories imagined in a post-9/11 world, written from the perspective of the young adult but accessible to anyone who has struggled with issues of family, love, sexuality, home, and social change in the current modern age.

Tuloy! Come share our world.