Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the month “March, 2009”

The Tears Bear Witness…

There is nothing unusual when reading a scene evokes a strong emotion, perhaps a lump in the throat or maybe even tears. When it is the author that feels this, it is a clear testament to his/her connection to what s/he has written, to the part of the author imbibed in the story.

But what puzzles me is, when even after reading the same passage 5, 10, even 30 times, the same strong emotion is evoked. It happened to me this week, when my publisher suggested I read through the book one final time to spot any mistakes the editor or I might have missed.

There is a particular passage in Oilspill dotcom where the protagonist, realizing that they are probably going to lose the court case, runs out of the office in frustration but is then confronted by pouring rain. He stares up at huge skyscrapers and feels helpless and puny. A delicate dialogue follows between him and his girlfriend.

I got choked up when I wrote it, choked up when I reread it, and choked up when I edited it. My voice broke when I read it out loud to my writer’s group and I remember stopping mid sentence to gulp some water.

Now, two years on, I read it for possibly the 20th or 30th time and the tears well up again. Why?

It is magic.

Even if no one else in the whole world is moved, it is magic nonetheless. There is a connection between the writer and the character that defies definition. And perhaps it doesn’t matter what the reason is or who else it affects, because no one will ever understand a character like its author.

And just maybe, this is why we write – to experience the magic.

Good Writing,


The Final Furlough

I know, I know. I missed a blog entry last week, a cardinal sin of blogospherial proportion. Truth is, with a new cover, the text laid out in final form and the last stages of my website, it has been a critical two weeks.

Heavy pressure at work (the work that pays the bills and puts food on the table), a sick child, and my wife away from home interviewing, also made finding time to focus on my book challenging.

It is both exciting and depressing. Recently I find that if I consider the whole picture – the endless To Do lists, timetables, SMART goals – then a wave of paralysis descends, reinforced by guilt, flanked by a sense of failure, backed up by hopelessness and commandeered by fatigue, the latter from less than six hours sleep, as I burn the candle at both ends while tossing and churning over To Do lists.

A high point of the week was opening a To Do list from a few months ago and seeing that, yes, I am getting through it.

And then there was receiving the new book cover for Oilspill dotcom. After three times experiencing a sinking feeling each time I downloaded the file, it was exhilarating to feel a soar of excitement as a first reaction to a new book cover design.

Reading through the manuscript in final layout format was also exciting for two reasons. Firstly, there is a feeling of closure, going through word-by-word for the last time. Secondly, I love my characters! After all this time, reading the book 15-20 times, and still feeling sad or elated for them. Tear still welled when I read certain passages – it was like checking in again with old friends.

So, here’s to old friends. Like To Do lists, they never seem to go away, even when the book is finished.

Good Writing,


Preparing for the Book Launch – the venue

The website is coming together well, and really just waiting for the book cover to be locked down and ready to insert on every page.

My attention now turns to the book launch itself. I have decided to hold two book launches – one in Berkeley and the other in San Francisco (near SF State University) – not exactly the world tour, but it might be more prudent to focus on my home bases, to build up confidence and actually have anyone turn up!

The first question is one of venue. There are practical considerations such as proximity to the BART transit station, easy parking, a place that isn’t going to charge me much, or even better, one that will be content to profit from the food and drink. It needs to be relatively quiet, allowing my book to be the center of attention.

I would like to find somewhere eyebrow-raising, somewhere that would provide an added attraction, perhaps tip the scales for anyone not exactly sprinting out the door to join me.

Any ideas would be extremely helpful, anything out-of-the-box.

Thanks and Good Writing,


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