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Photo credit: Karen Kao

Shanghai Noir

The Dancing Girl and the Turtle: publication date 01.04.2017

This is a photo of the Fourth of July picnic organized by Overseas Americans Remember. I can't remember the last time I celebrated the fourth of July or heard someone sing the Star-Spangled Banner live. It felt like a Norman Rockwell moment and I had to capture it.

I was there to get out the vote. The day before that, I marched to protest the separation of families on the border. Over the course of one week, I've moved from despair to action.

I want to say hope but my inner voice advises caution. "Don't be a sucker," it says. My inner voice tells me that my actions won't make any difference. A drop in the bucket. Bringing water to the sea. I might as well stay at home.

Inner voices suck. Freud attributed them to the super-ego, that part of your mind that tells you you'll never be good enough. The one that gets out the whip when your animal id gets the better of your rational ego.

At the International Writers' Collective, we call it the shitbird. It flaps overhead and shits all over everything you write. Though that's not always a bad thing. You need to have a critical eye because the writing is the easy part. It's the editing and polishing that's a pain in the ass.

A critique group can be a great place to test-drive a manuscript. Or it can be the gate into the first ring of hell. This week's blog post is about how to tell the difference in Finding Nemo.

Have you signed up yet for my Master Class on 22 July? Please don't let me sit there all alone.

You can also find me at the American Book Center in Amsterdam where Democrats Abroad will be hosting weekly voter assistance office hours. Every Thursday from 6-8 pm starting today until Election Day. Come say hi!

In the meantime, check out my review of Jenny Erpenbeck's timely novel Go, Went, Gone.

Angel Island
Bonsai
Mindfulness
Gulag with Chinese Characteristics
Who Am I?

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