Alas, I must end this blog.

I have come to the conclusion that I must end this blog.

I doubt many people read it, but that’s not the only reason. I am not much into writing about writing.  I love writing, but I am not always sure what to say about the act of writing.  It’s so personal and so much of it is done in isolation. I am not sure if my battles with writing are really helping anyone or just fueling some inner narcissism that I’d rather nip in the bud.

So… I must say goodbye!  But I will continue posting news of any publications on my stories page, as well as on the home page.  And I WILL keep writing (am almost done with a good draft of my novel, yay!), and I am starting a new blogging project about education and my children, which is something I have plenty to write/say about. I hope that will be a little longer lasting.

Paul, I will continue to follow your blog because I enjoy it so much.  Good luck to you and everyone who has helped me so much!

P.S. I will leave the links up for the blog for a few more months, but then I will be yanking the cord (yikes).

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Radio and New Anthology

The radio interview went well.  Once I start going I am usually fine.  If you want to listen to the interview, it will be up for two weeks at the archive.  I was on roughly at 8:15PM on Sunday, May 26th.

Other news: my story, “The Discrepancy Equation,” is featured in the The &NOW AWARDS 2: The Best Innovative Writing…Order from Amazon or from Northwestern University Press.

This second volume of The &Now Awards recognizes the most provocative, hardest-hitting, deadly serious, patently absurd, cutting-edge, avant-everything-and-nothing work from the years 2009-2011. The &NOW Awards features writing as a contemporary art form: writing as it is practiced today by authors who consciously treat their work as an art, and as a practice explicitly aware of its own literary and extra-literary history—as much about its form and materials, language, as it about its subject matter. The &NOW conference, moving from the University of Notre Dame (2004), Lake Forest College (2006), Chapman University (2008), the University at Buffalo (2009), the University of California, San Diego (2011), and Paris (Sorbonne and Diderot, 2012)—sets the stage for this aesthetic, while The &Now Awards features work from the wider world of innovative publishing and serves as an ideal survey of the contemporary scene.

The anthology features:

Harold Abramowitz (.UNFO)
Shane Allison
Dimitri Anastasopoulos
Daniel Borzutzky
Rachel Gontijo Araujo
Garrett Ashley
Joe Atkins
Jesse Ball
Lutz Bassmann
Jose Perez Beduya
Matt Bell
Kate Bernheimer
Arno Bertina
Andrew Borgstrom
Amina Memory Cain
J. R. Carpenter
Julie Carr
Sam Cha
Alexandra Chasin
Don Mee Choi
Jack Collom
Josh Corey
Shome Dasgupta
Katie Degentesh
Andy Devine
LaTasha Nevada Diggs
Ben Doller
Sandra Doller
Manuela Draeger
Marcella Durand
Kate Durbin
Craig Dworkin
Brian Evenson
Elisa Gabbert
Roxane Gay
Elizabeth Gentry
Johannes Göransson
Amelia Gray
Amira Hanafi
Duriel E. Harris (Black Took Collective)
Gretchen E. Henderson
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Laird Hunt
Kim Hyesoon
Parneshia Jones
Bhanu Kapil
Jennifer Karmin
Janice Lee
Daniel Levin Becker
Michael Leong
A. J. Patrick Liszkiewicz
John Madera
Annam Manthiram
Jennifer Martenson
Dawn Lundy Martin (Black Took Collective)
Joyelle McSweeney
Christina Milletti
Monica Mody
K. Silem Mohammad
Nick Montfort
Sawako Nakaysu
Urayoán Noel
Alissa Nutting
Lance Phillips
Evelyn Reilly
Dan Richert (.UNFO)
Kathleen Rooney
Marc Saaporta
David Shields
Eleni Sikelianos
Amber Sparks
Anna Joy Springer
Ken Taylor
Anne-Laure Tissut
Sarah Tourjee
J. A. Tyler
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
Nico Vassilakis
Antione Volodine
Ronaldo V. Wilson (Black Took Collective)
Raúl Zurita

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I’ll be on the radio tomorrow

If you are so inclined to listen:

www.kunm.org

There is a “Listen Live” button at the top left if you are from out of state.  I will be on at 8PM on Sunday Mountain Time.  I will be speaking with brilliant storyteller Ramona King about my new collection of short stories, Dysfunction.

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Here it is… Bread Loaf Rejection #3

This is a rejection for the Work-Study in Fiction.  I did not apply for a regular spot, though I am curious as to whether I would have even been accepted that way either. But it seems dishonest to apply for a spot knowing that I would not go if I were accepted.  Why?  Because I don’t have the money.  It is too expensive.  Then you wonder how these other people can afford it.  But maybe they don’t have two kids, aren’t living in a single-income household.

Here it is, no “you were close” no “you were in the final round” no “we liked your work.”  Just a flat out, generic response, but at least my name was copied into it:

Dear Annam Manthiram:

 

I am sorry to let you know that we are unable to offer you a Work-study Scholarship in Fiction for the 2013 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

 

Each year we receive applications from many more writers than we can invite. To give you an idea of the competitiveness of this year’s applicant pool, we were able to offer an award to 5 percent of those who applied for financial aid, and we were able to invite 19 percent of those who applied as general contributors.

 

We greatly appreciate your interest in the Conference and truly wish we could host all of the deserving writers who apply.

 

I wish you luck with your work and hope to meet you another time.

 

Sincerely,

 

Noreen Cargill

Administrative Manager

Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference

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A Challenge

I’ve taken some time away from the novel.  It’s like having a relationship.  Sometimes you need a break.

My goal is to finish the novel, work to death on revision, and then see what happens.  I can’t whine and complain if I don’t give it my all.  It’s a challenge that I have taken upon myself.  I want to make it as good as possible.  The best it can be, and then there may be some more decisions to make after that.

Writing isn’t for those looking for instant gratification.  It’s a slow burn, sometimes painful, sometimes pleasurable.

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No, No, and No… and a Decision

I know it’s been two months, but I have a baby.  That makes it hard.  I’ve been lucky if I get 15 minutes a day to write.

No from the Deming Memorial Fund, I did not get a grant from them to fund my short story collection dealing with identity among Indian-American women

No from Word Riot, I did not get a small travel grant to fund my three-city reading tour of New Mexico’s rural communities (though my husband and I are talking about just doing it anyway– we don’t need validation from anyone that our project is worthy)

There was another No, but I can’t remember now what that was from.  I am anxiously awaiting a No from Bread Loaf too.  Pessimistic?  Nah, realistic.

My reading at Bookworks back in March went well.  It was a multimedia presentation, and people seemed interested.  So I will have to do that again when/if I do another reading for the book.  It’s been hard to get motivated when there is a tremendous amount of energy/effort/preparation that goes into these things with very little return. It’s not about the money.

I spent the last three days, almost 10 hour days, at the first ever Southwest Book Fiesta.  It was a disaster, to put it mildly.  They were charging people admission fees to come and buy books.  I don’t know whose idea that was.  And so as a result, there were not many people there.  That was just one of the myriad issues.  I won’t bore you.  Needless to say, I sold very VERY few books.  The bright side– the panel I did with Eirik about getting published in literary journals went well.  It was the first time I’ve done something like that, and I felt relaxed and my normally goofy self.  It was informative, and people afterward said they learned quite a bit.  We are going to branch out and contact libraries/bookstores to offer this presentation elsewhere.  I also read a short story as part of the Dimestories event on the main stage.  I did sell a few books afterward, so that was good.

My kids were such troopers.  They were dragged around by my husband for three days, but it was only on the third day that my oldest had a meltdown.  But we were constantly getting people coming over to tell us how well-behaved our children were.  I’m glad.  They are good kids.  I love them so much even though they piss me off most of the time.  And Sheryl Sandberg is right.  Having a partner who is invested in you and the marriage is so crucial to women who are wanting a career.  If my husband weren’t so supportive, I don’t think I would be able to do as much as I do.  Thanks is not justice enough.  I love him so much even though he pisses me off sometimes too (haha).

I’m going to end on a sour note, which is not great.  I have a few minutes (oldest is playing in his room, youngest is napping), and this is usually when I’d take the 15 – 30 minutes I might have to write, but instead I am writing on my blog because, well, I’ve sort of become disillusioned.  Is it worth it?  All the effort?  The sacrifice, not only that I make, but my husband, my children?  Wouldn’t it just be easier to say fuck it, I won’t write anymore, and just have that part of my life just go away?  I know we all go through these ups and downs, but it’s hard when a large part of your stress is scrambling for time, and if that stress went away, how light you would feel….how much time I would have to spend with my family, to spend with friends instead of isolated in an office that is tiny and cramped with crap that we have nowhere else to store…

For now I am updating my blog and seeing what happens.

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The Nose

Last Sunday I participated in Dimestories’ Third Annual Showcase event at Bookworks, the local independent bookseller in Albuquerque where I’ll be doing my launch.  It’s a tiny space, and it was packed (standing room only).  I read “A Binturong Named Vithi” about an imaginary friend who turns out to be not-so-imaginary after all.  Paul, I did not wear my lucky boots!  And I read fine, so I guess I don’t need them, which is good because I think they have a hole in them now.

It’s funny no matter how many times I do this I still get nervous right up until I read my first word. Then it’s like this amazing rush, and you want to keep reading and reading.

Besides my novel-in-progress (up to 250 pages now), I am working on a story for Pen Parentis (of which I placed third last year) and submitting to The Writer’s Center Emerging Writer Fellowship. Last weekend I was also invited to speak to high school students about writing and workshop.  It was on a Saturday and a very nice day, so we did not get much participation.  But between me and the other writers at the table, there was a synergy I miss when I work by myself.  We talked craft and technique, and I learned a few things.  I suppose that’s why I must try to make it to another conference at some point.

My youngest turns five months old today.  Yay!  He is already into reading– loves the board books I get him from the library, so I am excited that he may be another reader just like my oldest one.  Sathya (the oldest) is proving to be sophisticated when it comes to his selections.  We picked up a book called “The Nose,” which was adapted for children and based on the short story by Nikolai Gogol.  That was one of his favorites before I had to return it back to the library.  I am not sure he understand all of the metaphors, but I could tell there was something about the story that piqued his interest.

 

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The clock is ticking…

I have a measly 4 1/2 weeks until my first reading.  Yikes!  The slideshow’s been assembled, but I haven’t had much time to do a read-through.  I felt so much more prepared with readings for my novel.  This time around I feel lucky if I can write for five minutes.  Last night after my son went to sleep I sat in the bedroom with the lights off working feverishly on revising Amit’s Ability.  I don’t know if these late-night work sessions produce anything tangible, but we’ll see.

Lately I’ve been kind of obsessed with Goodreads.  I can’t believe I didn’t get into it before.  It’s really such a cool resource for people who love to read.  I’m generally not someone who enjoys adding yet another “technological advance” to her repertoire, but this one is definitely worth the time.

Sathya is continuing to read his books.  He is reading labels now; the other day he figured out that the salsa was “hot.”  Anand has passed his teething phase (for now), and he is sleeping better.  For about a week and a half it felt like we were taking care of a newborn again.  Poor red, gummy thing.

I’ve opened a rogue Twitter account, the handle of which I will not reveal here.  It’s meant to be anonymous, so I can really post what I really really mean and feel (haha).  It’s liberating.  Self-censorship lives.

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My son’s reading!

My oldest Sathya just turned four.  And he is reading already. This morning he read a story about Ned and his tan cat that likes to eat ham.  I’d like to think it’s because I infused him with a love of words, but I don’t know how much credit I can take.  He is such a bright child.  It makes him staying home instead and driving me nuts of going to preschool  (and not giving me any time to work) worthwhile.

My youngest Anand is a dream child.  He is so happy, so mellow, so easy.  I have heard that about second children.  He is also a smart baby.  He focuses really hard when we read him books, and he is already grabbing at the pages.  I am thankful because I don’t know what I’d do if I had two crazy animals to contend with!

My writing schedule though erratic is at least consistent.  I’ve given up trying to do anything constructive during the day.  The oldest is kept to a schedule of learning, activities, and play, so there is not much time for me to work. He also refuses to take a nap, so even when the baby is down, the oldest is wide awake and ready for stimulation.  When my husband gets home, we make sure to all eat dinner together, and then I run upstairs to get in at least an hour (if that) of writing done before I have to feed the younger one.  Then it’s getting the kids to bed.  Sometimes I will go back to work if I am not too tired.  (I have been known to get up in the middle of the night to write.) Anand is still waking at least twice at night for feedings, so I try to avoid cutting into my sleep too much.  I am hopeful that once he starts sleeping through the night, I will be able to work after the kids go to bed.

My husband and I have learned how to communicate in short sentences.  Articles and adjectives take up too much time.  Nouns and verbs only.  It’s temporary, we know, which makes this odd time bearable.

I am about 100 pages into the revision of my novel, Amit’s Ability.  I really like where it’s going.  You know you’ve hit your stride when you can feel somewhat good about what you are writing.  I think having another child and having even less time have forced me to be more focused and more appreciative of the time I do have.

I have less than 7 weeks before my first reading for Dysfunction.  I am not planning nearly as hectic of a schedule of readings like I did with After the Tsunami.  But I do plan on visiting California again and doing a reading or two.  I am doing something different this time, too.  I am putting together a slideshow to accompany the reading.  I hope it will create a bit more visual interest and engage readers even more.

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Getting a Less-Than-Awesome Publishers Weekly Review

With my second book (Dysfunction), I have received my first ever real Publishers Weekly Review.  It is not pretty.  It’s like receiving a back-handed comment– with every little bit of praise comes a sharp dagger of criticism.  My favorite was “Generally, though, the stories are too clever, as though they were lifted from the notebook of a young creative writing student who’s trying to show everyone how smart she is.”  Yikes!  I mean, Kavita Daswani read my book and liked it.  So did Susan Straight.  Most of the stories have been published in reputable literary journals. I guess those journals must like the ramblings of a precocious student.

I liked this article by Emily St. John Mandel about bad reviews.  She says that “after fifteen years on the Internet I have a hard time taking anonymous snark very seriously.”  Yes.  I suppose writing bad reviews can be a dangerous profession given how unstable and uneven writers can be.  Still, like she says in her article, bad reviews still bite.  And it sucks.

The publisher and I decided we could pull one line from it– “Beginning with “The Cottonwood Borer”, a compact and powerful story told by a young girl about her mother’s desire to be reincarnated as a as the titular figure, each story examines wildly different characters, from a young Indian girl who can’t live up to her parents standards in “Asha Ma”, to a lonely woman who buys storage units hoping to find emotional satisfaction in their unknown contents in “Whatcha Bid”. The stories are most successful when they are at their darkest, displaying allegorical brilliance on the scale of a Sanskrit epic.”  I do take a little offense to this though.  Why must my work be related to a “Sanskrit epic”?  Is it because I am Indian?  I think that one should never go into reading a person’s work with certain expectations on canon based on the writer’s cultural background.

We also agree that the reviewer most definitely did not read the entire collection. Asha Ma for example is not a story about a girl living up to her parents’ expectations… but it is if you just read the first page. And the best stories weren’t even mentioned.

There are options to the bad review, apparently.  You can pay to get your book reviewed and then have it removed if you don’t  like it.

And then even Publishers Weekly itself posts the top 13 Worst Reviews of Classic Books, admitting that not all reviews are created equal!

So the real question is this: will people will be intrigued by this offensive review and wonder… just how smart is this creative writing student?

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