SubDrift

SubDrift: free-for-all open mic and Desi love fest made wonderful by warmth, camaraderie, and a really awesome quality of performance. This particular evening was NYC SubDrift March 2013. I test-drove a bit of my book with a South Asian audience for the first time and was pleased to find it grip despite the fact that it’s the stuff of our daily lives — the one early S. Asian reader commented that I was writing for clueless white people.

Speaking across cultures seems a reasonable mission statement to me. I grew up in a town where half the population and many of my close friends were Chinese, and yet learned things from The Joy Luck Club I hadn’t known. So I chose, in many places in my book, to state the obvious. There was the possibility of this audience reacting with terminal boredom, but that is not what happen. I am pleasantly surprised

This evening was also my coming out as an auntie-at-large in the diaspora, and considering what Desi aunties can do, it was greeted surprisingly cordially. Possibly because I let on about the secret of our culture: at 30 you get to start thinking what you want, at 40 you occasionally get to do what you want, and at 50 you’ve turned into the enemy (an auntie, or, presumably, an uncle) and can tell other people what to do.

Also my favorite adopted niece gave me chocolate, so all in all it was a fun evening.

Desi Auntie Universal-Interference Disorder

I sent an email yesterday morning:

‘Dear N.: I don’t mean to be pushy. But can’t help myself, I’m past 50 and the Desi-female genetic disorder of universal interference is kicking in. But I have a practical suggestion…” After which I proceeded to tell her how to gather her materials together to prepare for writing a book.

One suggestion, non-stupid, was to use a Wiki or WordPress site like this blog, with the tags allowing an organic swim through any angle of the material, for all those times that one doesn’t really know what one is doing and it’s nice if the structure can spark thoughts.

Another, both profound and silly, was to say, “But it’s good to remember, no one writes a book. We write sentences, sections, paragraphs… and then shake it together into shape.”

This is perfectly true. I am trying this minute to assemble a short story, in rather a hurry, for a submission deadline. I didn’t worry about it because the bits of the story are all preexisting, I just have to assemble and shake. Like an instant energy drink, only hopefully more entertaining.

The silly part of the exercise is this: the preexisting pieces of the story I am planning are quite old, and not organized in anything like a Wiki, but are flat files in a basic file tree. And I can’t find them.

Yesterday also included numerous other emails to young Asian friends — and middle-aged friends, Asian and otherwise — several of them packed with useful advice.

So not only do I have Desi Auntie Universal-Interference Disorder, I am that worst of Aunties, the kind that fails to take it’s own advice. So now you know.