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Clams, Tsukijii Market, Tokyo. Photo credit: Karen Kao

Shanghai Noir

Synchronicity is that sliver of time when an event occurs in your life that turns out to be meaningful to some other part of your life. I read a craft essay by Laura van den Berg on the power of objects in fiction. That night, at my critique group, we discuss a manuscript narrated by an inanimate object. Someone mentions a novel with the delightful title The Book of Chameleons which uses a gecko as its narrator. I come home to read a chapter in Han Kang's novel Human Acts narrated by the soul of a dead boy in the process of extricating himself from his human shell. Now I have an idea for how to explain to my creative writing students next week how an in media res beginning works.

How could any writer not be influenced by such a confluence of coincidences?

I'll take inspiration in any form it might appear, including the guise of bad science. This is not to say that animate and inanimate objects are suddenly going to overrun my writing. It's the pleasure of the what if question. It's the way I feel when my imagination wakes up. This is me writing again.

These past few months, I've been mulling over the many, varied, and always helpful comments I received from beta readers on my novel manuscript Peace Court. I turned them into charts and maps and Excel sheets. But still I was reluctant to touch that manuscript. A critique group deadline got me started and now I'm mid-manuscript though I did wonder what was making me drag my feet. Here's my explanation: On Revision.

I continue to speed-read my way through the towering stack of books-to-be-read. Olifanten warm houden, the debut short story collection by Dutch writer Dieuwke van Turenhout, was delightful. You can read my review here: Circus Animals.

Will there be more synchronicity ahead for me? Hard to know. In any event, I can foresee a novel narrated by a gecko and more Han Kang in my very near future.

Year of the Pig
Made in China
How to Get Lost
Food Fight
2018 | My Year in Food

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