On Mermaids and Miley Cyrus

Unsurprisingly, Palau has inspired plenty of writing outside of the book I’m working on while we’re here. With this absurdly lucky, lucky gift of one year of writing time while Brian clocks in at the court, I have found no trouble at all motivating myself to clock my own hours (and luckily, our many guests over the last four months have been supportive of me stealing off for the occasion). Instead, I’ve had to work to rein in the feeling that I MUST WRITE IT ALL WHILE I CAN! Old essays! New essays! Travel pieces! The memoir! That short story I’ve been tinkering with…the novel I started in that fiction workshop…because I’m fairly certain that life is never going to get any better than this, and I may never have a full-time writing gig again, ever, and before I know it I’ll be back to squeezing writing in the cracks between jobs, so I must use these remaining 153 days to write all the things.

I try to combat this by taking a lot of deep breaths and indulging in the occasional brief creative flight. Below are links to a couple of short, island-inspired pieces I’ve published recently. Hope you enjoy! Now where was I? Oh yeah, writing that book…

On mermaids: “Sirens” — Sweet: A Literary Confection, cool little online journal out of the University of South Florida.

On Miley: “Making Peace With Miley” — The Mindful Word, great online and print mag on all things mindful.

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The Good News & The Bad News

The Good News is…

1) While Brian’s dream of flying remains distant, we are regularly suiting up, strapping heavy metal on our backs, and leaping into spaces unknown to participate in what he calls “the next best thing to a jet pack.” We were promised that the scuba diving in Palau was some of the best in the world, and six dives in, we’re believers. Brian Quirk is even more relaxed underwater than he is on land, if you can believe it. Anna is grateful for such a competent diving buddy, especially since it looks like those white tip reef sharks have a thing for Blue Finned Blondies. (We’re told they’re harmless, but when they’re swishing under your elbows and looking so…sharky…it’s a little nerve-wracking.)

2) Anna has some exciting stuff happening on the writing front:

  • Her essay “As Seen On TV!,” originally published in Ninth Letter (a hip little journal out of the University of Illinois-Urbana Champagne), was selected as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2013 by the venerable Cheryl Strayed (guest editor) and series editor Robert Atwan. The essay is available in print only through the 9L link above. If you’re the instant gratification type, you can watch a super cool chick named Diane Park do an ambidextrous drawing using excerpts of the essay here.
  • “On Modesty,” an essay she published in Shenandoah, was shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize and received Special Mention in The Pushcart Prize XXXVIII: Best of the Small Presses 2014 anthology.
  • What this means: Twice in two weeks, Anna did a little dance in the living room—she didn’t make the final cut, but she did manage to rise up through the slush pile into the company of some of her favorite writers and writer-friends—and we popped the bottle of champagne we bought for a special occasion. (The $18 Barefoot brand was a splurge, second shelf up from the $16 Andre. That’s right. The stuff we bought for $2.99 in college has a 500% markup in Palau.)

The Bad News is…

Come to think of it, “bad” is relative. We are out of the typhoon zone. We don’t have ticks or cockroaches or geckos taking up residence in our apartment (well, the occasional gecko, but those guys are pretty cool). Our previously-clunking car got totally fixed up for a mere sixty bucks. We hear that the U.S. even managed to avoid a government shutdown! (Trust us, it looks even more absurd from a distance.) And while Brian has taken to wandering the apartment singing “What does the fox say? I don’t know, ‘cause I don’t have the Internet,”* we are happy to report that we have no idea what Miley Cyrus is up to these days. Life is pretty damn good.

*While we appreciate your YouTube links, songs, audio clips, etc., we can’t stream them. We hereby request that all viral videos be translated and reported to us in written form. Keep us posted.