This is a unique kind of meme that Jade brought to my attention. Specific questions are generated by people who want to know more about you, and then you answer them on your blog and invite other people to be “interviewed.” Okay, does that sound confusing? Well, these are the questions that Jade put to me. If anyone else would like to be interviewed, see directions at the bottom of this post.
1. What do you like about blogging? How has it affected your creative writing, if at all?
I like the sense of community, the conversation that it creates with people I know and don’t know. I feel like it breaks up the sense of isolation that writers often experience; it makes the writing life a bit more interactive. I feel like it is very separate from my creative writing life, however. People might think that I could better use this blogging time to write “creatively” (although I think blogging is creative; my motto is “everything counts!” when it comes to writing) but I really can’t write fiction or nonfiction in fifteen minute chunks, which is pretty much how much a blog post takes.
2. Do your children read your stories? Why or why not? If so, have they always read them? Are there any stories they have not read?
Not often. They have often not been all that interested; although I did attempt two children’s picture books that never saw the light of day, and they helped with those. If there are stories they have not read, it is because they are PG-13 or R rated. But now the younger one is almost 13 and I think I’d feel okay about them reading just about all of it.
3. Describe the story you are most proud to have written.
When you say story, I’m assuming you mean “short story,” ie fiction. I’d say it would have to be “The Liver Nephew.” I worked so hard on that story. The published version is I think my thirteenth draft. The revision process was so grueling but the editor was totally amazing and helpful, and I kept at it until I felt like it really worked. And the revisions were HUGE, changing settings, taking out characters, changing enormous things, not just line editing. I feel like it was kind of a perfect blend of using life experience combined with imagination. It combined a story that my physician husband told me, with small details about some of my relatives and also part of my own inner life. I was really pleased and proud when the journal it was published in chose it to be reprinted in an anthology of their best published works over the past six years.
4. As a hapa adoptee, you have had your share of unique revelations and experiences. What do you think you would be like if you had lived with your birth parent/s? Or if you had lived with adoptive parents who were not Japanese?
Well, that’s a big what-if question. I’ve met my birthmother but not my birthfather. If I had lived with my birthmother… I don’t know. Her whole life has been so carefully constructed around keeping me a secret. If I lived with her that would have had to mean she would have either constructed some lie to explain my existence, or she would have been a completely different person. It’s all very hard to imagine. She didn’t have the fortitude to be that different; to be okay with standing out from society in that way (a single woman with a child). And as far as my birthfather goes, he would have had to have left his family to be with her and me, and that would have presented a whole different set of difficulties.
It was weird growing up hapa but not having my hapa-ness mirrored in two different parents, if that makes any sense. Most hapas can see how Parent A + Parent B = their own mixed self. I didn’t have that and I think it gave me a disorted sense of identity. What I saw in the mirror didn’t make sense with what I felt I was inside.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized how very unusual my situation is; that most adoptees of color end up with parents who do not share their background. I feel a little sheepish saying that I feel “lucky” but I do. So many adoptees feel cut off from their racial/cultural roots and I didn’t have that experience. I think if I had been raised by white parents I would not have any sense of feeling Asian at all. I suppose I might have been okay with that, but the thought of it makes me sad. I feel that I was very lucky to have that sense of continuity from my biological family that carried through in my adoptive family. And my “white” half? That was provided by the dominant culture, by the media, by the town I grew up in, etc. Although I do often wonder about the specific white culture that I supposedly carry.
Edited to say: I do not mean to imply that people who are adopted by people not of their race/culture are UNlucky. But I do think that it presents more of a challenge to those parents to make every effort to keep those children connected to their birth culture in a variety of ways.
And: I think that people who are adopted by parents not of their race and culture, who choose to keep said adoptees apart from their race and culture are unlucky.
5. If you did not write, what would you do with your spare time/life?
There are so many things I wish I could do that I really do not have time for. I would do more political organizing. I would learn to play the banjo. (my not so secret lifelong dream!) I would keep teaching. I would travel a lot. I would read more books. I would cook more. I would exercise more. I would consider having more children (by adoption! not birth). But right now none of those things seem possible, because I have to write.
Do you want to be interviewed? If so…
1. Leave me a comment saying, “I too am an egomaniac.”
2. I respond by asking you five question. You will answer them, because you like talking about yourself.
3. You will update your blog.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.