Saturday, December 26, 2020

Mandala prints

I started drawing mandalas in February 2014. I sold them on eBay that year—I think I sold five or six—then stopped selling them and instead just kept them for myself, thinking that it would be nice to publish a book of them, or to sell prints of them, at some point.

On November 10, I started selling prints. I've enjoyed selling prints. It feels more satisfying and less stressful than some other methods of earning money I've tried, like selling writing on Patreon, which I tried earlier this year and abandoned after four posts. 

Mandala prints
Prints arranged in order of popularity. Key for the order is in lower-right.
I've sold 128 prints:

32—numbers mandala 

30—water mandala

27—mandala 13 

26—mandala 25

7—Dudu mandala 

4—mandala 12

2—cannabis mandala

0—mandala 8

Lower sales of Dudu mandala, mandala 12, cannabis mandala, and mandala 8 are due, at least partially, to those being added later. I added Dudu mandala and mandala 12 on November 30, and cannabis mandala and mandala 8 on December 11. 

It seems like people like to buy prints without faces on them, besides maybe Dudu's face. If I had started selling them all at the same time, maybe Dudu mandala would be as popular as the first four.

International orders have been from United Kingdom (7), Germany (4), Canada (3), Chile, Spain, Australia, France, Ireland, Sweden. No orders from Asia or Africa yet.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Leave Society's "first pass"

After a book is copy-edited and the author goes through the copy-edits, accepting or rejecting them while making more edits, the publisher implements the edits and lays out the book and sends it back to the author in a file called "first pass." Or at least this is what has happened with most of my books.

I blogged about copy-edits around two months ago. My publisher sent me the copy-edited draft of my novel on October 23. I went through the edits on the computer on October 26, 27, and 28. Then I printed the draft and edited it by hand and implemented my edits to the MSWord file over 9 days, working an average of 4 hours per day, until the day it was due, November 6, when I turned it in.

On December 2, I got the laid-out PDF "first pass" file of my novel. It had all the edits I'd accepted and/or made in the copy-edited draft. It was 353 pages. I like the layout. It looks like this:

I printed it and worked on it an average of 3.5 hours a day for 8 days, from December 7 to 14, hand-editing and implementing the edits for 7 days and then, on the 8th day, reviewing the edits—299 of them—on the computer screen, in Adobe Reader, reversing and tweaking some edits, for a final of 288 edits. The edits were tiny and small. I added around 15 paragraph breaks, fixed some things that weren't fixed or were missed in copy-edits (like unitalicizing foreign words), deleted around 150 words, added some words for clarity purposes, and changed some things back that I'd changed in previous drafts.

On the 6th and 7th days, also, I went through the edits with my girlfriend, who is an editor, getting her feedback. She helped me to not overdo it when deleting words for the purpose, in part, of minimizing having lines with just one word on it—"orphans," these seem to be called. I feel satisfied getting rid of "orphans," partly because I like editing down, which almost always seems good, but I know it can be overdone. An example of this that I feel satisfied about and doesn't seem overdone to me:

Gazelles seem kind of similar to deer, and there were already enough animals listed, I felt.

An example of where I added a paragraph break:

Some words/phrases/sentences I deleted:

-which holistic dentists had been removing from mouths for decades
-since the eighties
-as an immaterial being
-and focus
-and so habitually moved carefuler than necessary
-somewhat vaguely, Li would realize years later, rereading the agreement emails
-in the nineties
-He’d finished five of its eleven chapters.
-in 1924 and 1926
-It was closer than New York to Taiwan.
-observing pigeons and squirrels
-couscous, eggplant, shiso, and 
-cramps and
-on his floor
-covering it with probiotic capsules
-Maybe neither of them was.
-consideration or
-he knew
-the place where he felt most alienated, beleaguered, and insane

Today was my 9th day working on "first pass." I checked four things that I still felt unsure about, then sent the file to my publisher. Due in part to my planning (editing around 50 pages a day, leaving two days to review), going through "first pass" has been a calm, enjoyable experience. 

My novel seems 0.02 percent to 0.4 percent (seems hard to estimate) improved to me now, after "first pass." It will be out on August 3, 2021. It can be added on Goodreads.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Leave Society's copy edits

Copy-editing is when a person called a copy editor edits a book after the author and editor have finished working on a book. I didn't understand copy-editing at first. My first times getting copy-edited were with my first prose books Bed and Eeeee Eee Eeee. It didn't make sense to me for a publisher to pay another person, besides the author and the editor, to read and edit a book. 

Now I understand copy-editing. A book is so complicated that even with the author and editor going through it many times, there will likely be some-to-many mistakes—style choices that aren't consistent, things that unintentionally don't make sense, facts and dates being wrong, etc.

I got the copy edits for Leave Society last week, and it included a style sheet, which I think I haven't gotten before. The style sheet had (1) a list of style rules that the copy editor discerned that I used and some errors that she corrected (2) a list of certain words in the novel (3) a list of names in the novel (4) a timeline of the novel's events from 1971 to 2018.

Here are the words:

Altamonte Mall
American Dental Association
Angelika Film Center
ankylosing spondylitis
Aquarium Barcelona

Bellevue South Park
Bobst Library
Bonefish Grill
bù xíng le
bucranium, bucrania

California Department of Education
camu camu
Carp Mountain
Citi Bike
Cocoa Beach
Cotton Field

Daan Park Station
Dao, Daoist
Diamond Head
Dr. Bronner’s

East River Park
Elephant Mountain
Environmental Working Group
estrone sulfate

farmer’s market
Flamingo Mountain
Foot Locker

Goddess (singular female deity)
Goddess Temple
Gokhale Method
gylany, gylanies

Hercules–Corona Borealis Great Wall
High Line
Hutchison Effect


Konya Plain

La Rambla

Magic (collector cards)

National Taiwan University
Norwich Meadows Farm
not good (adj; hyphenate before noun)
Nuss procedure

Old Europe
Olive Garden

pectus excavatum
Personality Assessment System
polysorbate 80
powerHouse Arena


Round Mountain

Salvia divinorum
sǎo mù
Science Channel
Steak and Ale
Stuyvesant Square
Sunset Beach

Taipei Main Station
Tiger Mountain
Time Landscape
Tom Sawyer Island
Tompkins Square Park


Vermont State Hospital

Waialua Public Library
Wekiwa Springs
Whole Epiphany Temple
WP Thyroid

xiǎo rén
Ximen Station

Yae Sushi
Yangmingshan National Park
YG, YGing
Yilan County
Younger Dryas

Zhou Dynasty


Related: I recommended six nonfiction books that are referenced in Leave Society.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Leave Society's table of contents

Leave Society has 4 parts and 32 chapters. I worked on each chapter so that they could each work as a short story. The chapters range from ~1300 words to ~8000 words.

Year of Mercury







Year of Pain











Year of Mountains




Crestor and Coffee






Year of Detox








Friday, September 18, 2020

Dudu and Didi

Below is a deleted scene from Leave Society. This scene occurs in a park by Li's parents' apartment in Taipei. Didi was edited out of the novel. The only dogs in the novel now are, I think, Dudu and Momo.  


They encountered Didi, a small, male, shirted dog. Dudu and Didi seemed uninterested in each other. “From behind, they look very similar,” said Li’s dad, as he did every time the two dogs met. 
            The walk continued. 
            Li’s dad called Didi "dāi bǎn." 
            “Dāi means stupid, right?” said Li. 
            “Right,” said Li’s mom. “Bǎn means board.” 
            “What kind of board? Wood?” 
            Li’s dad said a cutting board. 
            Li asked if dāi bǎn meant conventional and unexceptional. 
            Li’s dad said it meant “unable to change” and “goes by rules.” 
            Li’s mom said it meant “not flexible.” 
            "Dad called Didi dāi bǎn," said Li, amused. 
            "He has to criticize everything,” said Li’s mom.

Friday, September 11, 2020


I blogged about ily at htmlgiant. Hobart published my poem "Antirelationship Period." I found a paper someone wrote about my Twitter account. I've read a little of it.

I enjoyed the documentary Plandemic. It discusses petroleum-based drugs, Bill Gates, the CDC, the CIA's Operation Mockingbird, Alphabet (Google's parent corporation), and other things. 

I read Alan Rossi's blog today. He is forty and doesn't use social media and has never used it except Twitter for a month it seems. I recommend his novel Mountain Road, Late at Night.

It's 9/11. I posted nonfiction titled "My 9/11 History" on Patreon in April. It required a membership to read, but recently I made my Patreon posts free. I'm probably not going to use Patreon anymore.

I finished two mandalas recently. I would like to publish a book of my mandalas one day. 

Monday, September 7, 2020


On December 10, 2019, I tweeted "My novel Leave Society is a threat to everyone including me" but now after two more drafts I think it's more of a gentle, calm suggestion or idea. 

The protagonist of the novel, Li, views leaving society as "a relative thing." He has lived in NYC since 2001 and in midtown Manhattan since 2011, and has been immersed in pessimistic, neurotic, nature-ignoring cultures and subcultures for decades, and so he feels that "almost any change would qualify."

In my novel, leaving society is mostly viewed as a mental and chemical and cultural thing. One can leave society to varying degrees by changing what one reads, for example. By replacing—to any degree—newspapers with nonfiction books that reference outside the mainstream, one is leaving society.

My novel defines "society" as "dominator society"—the thing almost everyone seems to have been embedded in for around 6,000 years. The other end of the continuum of social organization from "dominator" is "partnership." Riane Eisler invented these terms in The Chalice and the Blade (1987).

Monday, August 31, 2020

Author photos

I got large, round glasses around two years ago because the frames don't block as much of my vision as frames of glasses with smaller lens do, and because there's less distortion on the edges. 

They seem normal to me now, but sometimes I've been aware though that I look "less credible" to some or most people while wearing them, in part because they look somewhat Harry Potter-like. Credibility has been more important to me since 2013 or so when I started reading a lot of nonfiction books, doing research on nature and society, and writing about my research. So for my author photo that I just sent my publisher I used my credible glasses, with smaller lens.

This glasses topic was in my forthcoming novel, Leave Society, but it was deleted in an early draft. A draft from November 2018 said:

The next day, walking alone stoned, Li realized he slightly tilted his head back all the time so that the top part of his glasses frames wouldn’t block his vision. He realized that if he wore glasses with huge round frames, his whole body would assume a more natural position. Realizing people would think he was wearing atypical glasses just to be weird, he felt reluctant to do it.  

*Photos by Yuka Igarashi

*Update* After discussing with Yuka, I decided to also send a round-glasses photo. *Update*

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Leave Society third draft

I finished the third draft of my novel today. It's 1952 words or 2.4% shorter than the second draft. I worked on the third draft from July 29 to August 25. It's in four parts. I read and edited the first part once, then read and edited the second part twice and did the same for the third and fourth parts, then went through the whole book a final time. It's ~80,300 words now. My main method of editing for this novel has been to repeatedly go through it beginning to end. 

My editor thought the word "recovery" should be better defined, and I worked on that by copy-pasting every instance of "recovery" in the novel into another file, reading through it occasionally, and thinking of what to add or change. I previously did this with other threads in the novel too—a meta thread (in which the protagonist is writing the novel), a thread on "the mystery", a thread on microfireflies, a thread on the end of history, a thread on the partnership-dominator fall.

I had two files open whenever I was working on the novel. One was the novel. One was a file with unused material and metadata and other things, like a to-do list for the novel. In the latter file, I organized unused material into topics. I had/have these topics:

Big Bang
Cotton Field
Diet Coke
Drug phase
EMR—schumann resonance
Exercise inventions
Emergent properties
Emily Martin
Hutchison Effect
Kathleen Harrison

And so on. Here is an example of what unused material I had in a topic (for Daoism):

-In China, metaphysics was called xuánxué, the dark learning, he knew from Ellen Marie Chen. Its main texts were Zhuangzi, Daodejing, and I Ching or Book of Changes. Chen defined xuánxué, which also translated to “the mystery school” and was close to Daoism, as “the search for what humans consider to be the profoundest values and their efforts to embody these values.”
-on how Dao may have originally been a female deity represented by a circle, which bifurcated into yin and yang
-and Mágū, a Daoist deity associated with cannabis and caves. 
-on the Daodejing’s “emphasis on the feminine,”
-“origin was rooted in the worship of the Mother-goddess”
-Dao was playful, spontaneous
-Translate “dark” line myself—玄 之 又 玄
-玄 was in Daodejing 12 times
-Laozi was an older contemporary of Confucius.
-Daodejing is “a hymm to the power and love of Tao as the Great Mother.”
-Chen called death “merely one stage of Life’s endless transformations”
-that when people see something mysterious, they say very xuán. 
-In Daoism, wrote Chen, “the grotesque and deformed and weak” belonged more to the process of change and so were “closer to the Mother.”
-xuan—"black, dark; mysterious, profound, abstruse, arcane”
-and wrote the Daodejing before going, post-retirement, to live in seclusion
-which was attributed to Laozi (literally “old teacher”), and which Chen felt was more fittingly called “the old wisdom,” 
-of the trinity of birth-death-rebirth

Friday, August 21, 2020


I worked on Leave Society's acknowledgements' page today. The first thing I did was check what I put for Trip, my previous book and second book to have an acknowledgements page:
Thank you to my family and friends; to Kathleen Harrison, Finn McKenna, and Klea McKenna; to Tim O’Connell, Bill Clegg, and Angie Venezia; and to my publisher, Vintage.
Then I came up with this:
Thank you to my parents, parents’ dog, brother, nephew, uncle, aunt, friends, partner, editor (Tim O’Connell), agent (Bill Clegg), publicist (Angie Venezia), and publisher (Vintage).
I like it because it's a fractal summation of the novel, and could gently remind the reader a little of what happened, after they finish reading it, and because it's brief. An overly long acknowledgements page could make the reader forget what they just read, take them out of the dream of the novel.

My first book with an acknowledgements page was Taipei, which just said, "Thank you to my editor, Tim O’Connell, and my agent, Bill Clegg." Before Taipei, I didn't want to have an acknowledgements page. I didn't know who to thank, and it seemed somehow not fitting with the books I published to be thanking people at the end of the book. I felt too alone, and like I was working alone, and also like it was obvious from the books' contents who I was thankful for. It still seems obvious now, with my previous two books and next book, but I work more closely with my editor now than with my pre-Taipei books and also have an agent and a publicist (not a private publicist but the one who works at my publisher).

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Pruning completion

I've continued pruning this week. This will be my last pruning post. I've finished pruning. The past six days, I pruned 91, 151, 122, 66, 88, and 45 words, working by pen/paper and computer in morning for 2-3 hours and at night by pen/paper for around an hour. Part 3 of my novel is now 1030 words shorter than in the second draft. It went from 29,957 to 28,927 words. It took eight days to go through it twice. I pruned an average of 125.375 words per day. After I go through part 4—there are some things I want to transplant there from the other parts—the third draft will be done. I think the cover is being made now by my publisher. We reconsidered the title for a few days and decided to keep Leave Society. I'm looking forward to posting unused material that isn't pruned material in future posts in this weekly series. Here is what I pruned from Tuesday-Sunday (besides prunings of one or two words, which I didn't save):

-The other movements were fast. 
-Using pigments made from azurite, limonite, soot, woad, weld, and other minerals and plants
-had also been rectangular, one-roomed, and kitchened 
-the worst-seeming place for careful contemplation 
-seemingly life-long 
-Daodejing, 3422; The Bible, 13,220
-Li said there used to be more birds everywhere, that the title of the book Silent Spring referred to the eerie silence in many places due to pesticides inadvertently killing many birds. 
-He wanted to elaborate, but sensed he would seem and feel unreasonable. 
-Kay said at a book event the previous night in a group of people she’d said she’d been rolling cigarettes with organic tobacco, and there’d been no response. She’d felt like she had a secret. Li said he felt that way when researching nature and society. 
-or be able to live without a caretaker 
-The sharing brought them closer to one another. 
-corruption whistleblowers 
-send photos of food, or 
-and so he felt safe 
-and that he wanted to be weirder, so that when he encountered compelling yet obscure information, he’d feel encouraged to explore instead of ignore or suppress 
-and triggered health problems 
-They were on the platform where he’d escalated away from and immediately back to his parents the previous day. 
-Li flapped and deepbreathed while facing the waterfall. 
-“I have papers coming out that will be read in a hundred years." 
-Li said his nonfiction book referenced thirty papers. 
-That night, drawing in his room, Li listened to his dad talk on the phone to one of his employees. After a long silence, Li’s dad started talking again, repeating a question. Li’s mom, in the kitchen, interrupted him, saying she’d thought he’d been talking to his employee. “No,” said Li’s dad, and repeated the question. Li left his room smiling and saw his mom’s annoyed face. Seeing his smile, she smiled. 
-time, space, imagination 
-It still doesn’t feel right. 
-“There wasn’t any ‘will not’ when you left?” said Li. 
-“Maybe some people said it, but you didn’t know them,” said Li. 
-who’d lived until he was eighteen 
-like picking up blood test results 
-instead of trying to use it against her 
-wearing earphones at his desk 
-because he’d wanted to be near his dad. 
-At Whole Foods, Li realized Mike had a seemingly unique facial expression in which he flattened his cheeks in a kind of metaexpression, over which he could layer smiles, smirks, frowns. 
-He says when you view it like this, it can help you calm down, and do something. 
-except birthday and Christmas gifts 
-as he’d started doing in emails lately 
-leading from roof to height-staggered roof 
-or lipstick

Monday, August 10, 2020

More pruning

On August 6, I started noting how many words I pruned each day from the second draft of my novel, Leave Society, pruning on the screen and on paper in the morning and just on paper at night.

August 6: 67 words 
August 7: 99 words
August 8: 62 words
August 9: 234 words
August 10: 244 words

Here is most of what I pruned on August 9 and 10, from my four-part novel's third part, which is called Year of Mountains:

-"Yes,” said Li. “Japan’s government has been promoting forest-bathing since 1982.” 
-began playing in the station, priming the train’s arrival. 
-and steeped green tea 
-more movement and sunlight 
-Sometimes he wanted to get totally away, disappear for years. 
-which sometimes made him feel like he had to assuage both himself and his mom, compounding both their worries 
-an example of when going to a hospital had helped 
-as she always did when Li lifted her to something 
-collected leaves from inch plants, which regulated blood sugar, and aluminum plants, whose aesthetic he liked, then 
-Li’s dad said he’d dreamed they’d lost Dudu. He’d put up flyers that said two kilograms, white, poodle, and 0.1 concentration, a detail from his equations. 
-through armed invasion and land seizure 
-somewhat pessimistically, Li felt 
-as he’d planned to ask for months. 
 -“Du must have thought we abandoned her and that Auntie saved her,” said Li’s mom. “I believe this is why she loves Auntie so much.” 
-Li said he wanted to save “embarrassed” for its original meaning. 
-though he knew it could return stronger 
-Her ancestors all ate lamb. 
-Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be. 
-“If I eat it all the time, then definitely…eating it rarely, how could anything happen?”
-lying on his back in his room, Li deep-breathed for two minutes, then held his breath to a timer. After around a minute, he had a YG. When he returned, he somehow believed he was in 4K in 2012. Clustering dread dissolved to relieved gratitude as he realized he was in Taiwan in 2017. 
-with a small toothbrush 
-with a wet nub of tissue paper 
-"Were they two females and one male?" said Li. 
-"We don't know what they were," said Li’s mom. 
-He noticed someone wearing a shirt that said “lifk is short” and he and his parents laughed, wondering if “lifk” was a typo of “life.” 
-searched “lifk,” which didn’t seem to be a word, and 
-the supposed founder of Daoism
-Li said he’d “at least look at everything in there.” 
-which was sometimes translated as “the way” 
-They entered a plaza where young males were seated cross-legged in groups, looking at phones. Li’s dad asked one of them what he was waiting for. He said an anime convention. 
-(once airborne he had to wait as he floated down)
-Anions could form indoors via plants, air ionizing machines, crystal salt lamps, and running water, he’d read.

Some of those I might re-insert, because I'm going through each part twice on this edit—pruning and then, while discerning the effects of my prunes and reviewing what I've pruned, pruning again.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020


This is the second post in my weekly feature where I post unused material from my forthcoming novel Leave Society. I've been working on its third draft. My editor had some small suggestions on the second draft, including to prune the second and third parts, Year of Pain and Year of Mountains, by around 1000 and 2000 words. Today and yesterday I pruned these sentences and fragments from Year of Pain:

-I wouldn’t have tested them like that. 
-That won’t help.
-“Maybe if you’re nicer to her, she’ll let you,” said Li.
-“And fish oil and chlorella,” said Li, putting capsules and tablets in a plastic bag.
-creating scar tissue
-Li didn’t respond. 
-and should get a blood test to find out
-he felt like he was blindly searching for a secret opening. 
-In the hall, on the way to the bathroom, he imagined someone watching him and feeling confused about what he was doing. 
-It caused chest constriction, lung fibrosis, fever, fatigue, and a hunched back. 
-Li said he was glad they listened to him.
-Li cried too, in a New York University computer lab, where he often teared while working on short stories.
-Another was serving two years for drinking beer in a state park. 
-with prison blueprints 

*UPDATE* I reinserted the sentence "Li cried too, in a New York University computer lab, where he often teared while working on short stories" into the novel as "Li cried too, reading his mom’s email in a New York University computer lab, where he often teared while working on short stories on sadness and loneliness." *UPDATE*

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Interview I did with Venezuelan newspaper today

1. Your texts tend to be – perhaps ironically – sober, straightforward, precise. Many have said they are minimalist. Does this respond to a time in which we are constantly showered with too much information? Are your texts a way of saying that we need to communicate just enough?

Some of my writing, like Shoplifting from American Apparel, is minimalist and conversational, but I also have writing, like in Taipei, that is florid and in long, complex sentences that I would never say in person. I think both convey, on average, around the same amount of information. Ten short, concrete sentences can convey more than three long, abstract sentences, I think. Books seem to me generally to be good at counteracting having too much information coming at us, since it's hard to multitask reading a book and doing other things.

2. The use of drugs – mainly adderall, xanax and mushrooms – has been very present in your writings, be them fictional or not. Should some drugs be tolerated, even promoted, for certain activities or chores? Are there any drugs we should be particularly concerned with?

I feel open to using any drug, in the same way I feel open to doing anything. I think I'm concerned with being damaged by drugs and getting addicted to drugs in a way that is detrimental to my life. I've been addicted to cannabis for years but I think it's helped my life more than it has harmed my life. I was addicted to Adderall for years and I think it harmed my life more than it helped my life. Generally, it seems that natural drugs are less harmful than synthetic drugs. Synthetic drugs have the additional negative of being made by corporations, who aren't concerned about our well being when inventing new drugs, but are focused on profits, in my view.

 3. As a writer whose texts are usually autobiographical, is there really any sort of writing that is not even minimally autobiographical? Do we all leave stamps of our personalities and traumas in what we communicate, no matter how fantastic? Can we understand a work of art without knowledge of the artist’s experiences?

I would argue that some texts are more autobiographical than others. J.K. Rowling might put some details from her life in her Harry Potter books, but I wouldn't call her writing autobiographical. My definition of "autobiographical writing" is writing that is mostly based on events in one's life. Probably 95% of fiction includes feelings the author has experienced, but I wouldn't call books that just include the author's feelings autobiographical. I like autobiographical writing in part because you can know the artist's experiences and the artist's art in the same book, without having to read a biography of the author. It makes the text more charged and complex to me.

4. To many people around the globe, it might seem normal for a New Yorker to write about existential angst, suicidal thoughts and feelings of hopelessness. After all, the city that never sleeps is the city of the anonymous. Nonetheless, in Caracas, many friends have found the atmosphere of Taipei extremely familiar. Do you believe that your concerns about mental health correspond to the main concerns of today’s youth?

I do, to some degree. I think people over the past 12,000 years have gotten increasingly toxified, physically and mentally, and that it's an exponential rise, with the toxification probably more than doubling in just the past few decades. This causes a lot of dysfunction. My characters have always felt cursed and/or poisoned, and they are, by culture like TV and magazines, and by chemicals like pesticides and bovine growth hormones. This leads to mental health problems.

5. In Latin America, literature and politics tend to go hand in hand. Historically, most of our continent’s most important novelists and poets have also been statesmen. I believe this has not generally been the case in the US – of course there are politicians that write, but your most renowned writers have not been politicians. How much, do you think, should a writer be involved in politics? Are literature and politics poles of the same sphere, or should they be treated as different areas?

I like that in Latin America novelists and poets have been politicians. I'm not sure why that doesn't happen in the U.S. In the U.S., politicians get bought by corporations, and many writers write against corporations. In the U.S., a novelist and a politician seem kind of like opposites. A politician has to lie all the time in ways that simplify reality, while a novelist tries to tell complex truths. I don't think writers should or shouldn't be involved in politics, but that having a range of writers could be good, like some who don't care at all about politics, and some that do. Personally, I've fluctuated through my career in how much I care about politics, and my definition of politics has also changed. In the past few years, I've been more interested in being a "holistic writer" (a term I made up), a writer who doesn't block out any aspect of existence, but tries to integrate it into my books and life.

6. Are there any Latin American authors you could consider among your influences? If so, which ones and why?

Fernando Pessoa, who I know isn't Latin American but who does write in Portuguese, is one of my favorite writers and has influenced me. I've always been attracted to detachment, melancholy, and resignation, and Pessoa seems like a master of those things. He also has a sense of humor while discussing his own detachment and sadness, which I like.

7. You recently created a Patreon “for any nonfiction that would be hard to get published at most places due to the content.” Which type of content do you consider particularly difficult to publish in the US, a country historically known for valuing free speech?

Content going against the government's story of 9/11. Content that suggests ways to make vaccines safer. Content that suggests the CIA and/or other government groups with secret projects are still using false flag operations, psychological operations, and MKULTRA-like experiments on a large scale. Content that suggests there is such a thing as "mainstream media" in which there isn't free speech, but in which certain topics can't be discussed due to pharmaceutical influence through advertising money, Operation Mockingbird-esque CIA intervention, and other reasons.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

LS unused material 1

I want to post unused material from my forthcoming novel Leave Society on this blog once a week. If I do this once a week until it comes out next summer, I'll have done it 52 times, which seems okay/good. This is a sentence I tried to put in the novel for a while but that didn't fit:
In 2009, Mission: Readiness, a nonprofit founded by retired military leaders, published a report titled “Ready, Willing, and Unable to Serve” that said 75 percent of Americans between the ages of 17 to 24 were unfit to serve in the military because of health problems, mental illness, criminal record, lack of education, and other issues.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Pets: An Anthology

Pets: An Anthology is a literary anthology about pets. It includes essays, fiction, poetry, and art by writers on their pets. I was going to blog about every piece in the anthology but then decided to just blog about the pieces by the authors I've met in person.

Introduction by Jordan Castro

Jordan's introduction seemed refreshingly concise and non-belligerent, while also being generous and intellectually stimulating, to me. It begins with a brief paragraph that ends with Jordan recommending "that the reader turn now to the first page and begin." Jordan has two dogs. One of them, which I think he inherited, is named Bugsy. I like this video of Bugsy.

The Measure of Love by Michael W. Clune

Michael's essay is about his dog Laila. Michael has a distinct, Clune-esque, empathetic-yet-relentless sense of humor, which made me laugh in his essay and has made me laugh before in his memoirs White Out and Gamelife. He's also good at conveying interesting information in original language that changes how I view things. From his essay:
I read somewhere that, for a dog, sniffing represents the same vivifying aesthetic function as looking does for humans, and so as I admired the skies of June, I modified my pace to enable Laila to experience the summer scentworld.
Franny by Patty Yumi Cottrell

Patty's essay is a meta-essay about writing about her dying cat Franny. It was one of my favorite pieces in the book, emotional and funny and informative. Her essay also discusses her book Sorry to Disrupt the Peace, which I recommend:
When my brother committed suicide, I wanted to know everything about it. I scoured his closet for clues, and there were medical records detailing his attempt to donate his organs. I reached out to a friend of his from grade school. I eavesdropped on people's conversations at the funeral. I wrote about a book about that. When I finished it I felt better.
Dudu (2007-) by Tao Lin

My essay is a first-person version of a chapter of my forthcoming novel Leave Society. It's focused on Dudu. I like toy poodles a lot. Here's an essay about two toy poodles my family had when I was growing up in Florida. I also had two fish tanks in Florida—10 gallon and 50 gallon. I liked arranging rocks and plants in the fish tanks so the fish would have variety and places to hide and explore. I feel emotional and humble when thinking about my lonely child self interacting with fish.

The Great Bird Search by Nicolette Polek

Nicolette's essay is focused in part on the vagueness and uncertainty of memory. The search referenced in the title is a search through her memory for information that she wants to put in her essay about pet birds she had as a child. It includes three tiny photos, including one where a bird seems to be reading a newspaper:
This one is sitting on a banker lamp, reading the "news." I woudl tape various paper "books covers" on the lamp for the bird to "read," though it chewed on the paper instead. This bird looks mostly white.
Hat and Bonnie by Chelsea Hodson

Chelsea wrote about being obsessed as a child with wanting a dog, and having a subscription to Dog Fancy magazine, but not ever getting a dog because her mom was allergic to dogs and cats:
Instead, we had between twenty and thirty desert tortoises and box turtles in our backyard at any given time. My parents had adopted a few from an animal sanctuary, and I named them after things they reminded me of: Hat, and Bonnet (who we referred to as Bonnie).
Having many tortoises and turtles in one's backyard seems desirable and funny to me. Chelsea's family also had one other pet: "Fluffy, the Mexican red-knee tarantula."

Frankie by Kristen Iskandrian

Kristen wanted a cat but ended up with a dog, Frankie. Her essay is written from a perspective of three years after adopting Frankie from the Humane Society. Two days after bringing home Frankie, Frankie started barking—"sharp, loud, and continuous." This reminded me of my childhood toy poodles who would often bark loudly and continuously in a way that felt frustrating as we tried to watch TV or talk on the phone. Dudu only barks intermittently, and not too loudly, since she is so small. Frankie also destroyed things and "peed and shit all over the house." My childhood toy poodles also did this, but not Dudu. Frankie seemed to be a medium-to-medium-large dog, while my childhood toy poodles averaged 5 and 8 pounds, making their destruction, pee, and poo smaller.

Rainbow by Precious Okoyomon

Precious' essay is also about a toy poodle. I've met her toy poodle, Rainbow, around 10 times and once took care of him for around a week. Rainbow was quiet and calm and seemed wise and Zen. He liked to sit in the highest part of the room where he could sit, on a pile of blankets and pillows on the sofa. When I had sex, he would become active and try to lick me and my partner's groins. In dog runs in parks, Rainbow seemed to avoid the other dogs and enjoy doing things on his own. I recommend Precious' Instagram for more Rainbow content.

Midget by Scott McClanahan

Scott wrote about his great-aunt's chihuahua, named Midget. It's in five parts and includes Midget's death. I strongly associate chihuahuas with Taco Bell due to their commercials, and it was good to have new chihuahua associations. Chihuahuas seem kind of like furless, tan/brown toy poodles.

Chickens Are Real by Blake Butler

This was another of my favorites in the book. Blake wrote about the many chickens he and his wife Molly had, including many that died for various reasons. Some of the chickens' names: Bing Bong, Crusher, Magic Johnson. His essay is also about his dad and Alzheimer's. You can read it here.

Assignments by Yuka Igarashi

Yuka has one of the briefest essays in the book. It's about a pet snail she got from her kindergarten teacher. Yuka named the snail Emily and fed her lettuce and watermelon. "She was greedy and thorough, and this made her seem happy and smart to me," wrote Yuka. The essay also includes a scene where Yuka's dad bashes her mom's head against a door. I feel more interested in snails since meeting Yuka. I read a 500-page book on snails and write about snails in my next novel. Snails seem to promote the opposite of some of the worst-seeming parts of modern society—rushed, crazed, violent.

Grace Haikus by Mallory Whitten

Mallory contributed four haikus and four drawings about her dog Grace. The first one is "when she eats yogurt / she holds the container with / her paws, face submerged." The drawing for it shows a container that says "yogurt," Grace's head from the eyes up (the rest is in the container), and, in front of the container, her two front paws, holding the container. I think my favorite of the four haikus is one about how Grace likes to chase lights around and how she "doesn't understand."

Me and Duchene by Sam Pink

Sam's piece is a short story with a strong plot, shifting perspectives, and fight scenes that include guns and knives. It made me laugh. Sam relates the sound of a gun firing by writing "BOP." One sentence reads simply "BOP BOP BOP BOP BOP." Another sound Sam writes about is of a man choking. Sam writes it like this: "The man choked like 'glekk glekkkk.'" A favorite thing of Sam's writing of mine is his descriptions of sounds. I've tried to do this more in my writing, and have found it rewarding and somewhat difficult.

Training for Rio by Annie DeWitt

Annie's essay is about horse-riding. Annie seems to know a lot about horse-riding. I liked learning about professional horse-riding. Annie describes a man named George Morri as "the riding world's Gordon Lish."

Other authors in the anthology: Christine Schutt, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, David Nutt, Mark Leidner, Raegan Bird, Ann Beattie,  Kathryn Scanlan, Sarah Manguso.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Patreon thoughts

Patreon seemed like a good idea at first, but now I'm not sure. It doesn't seem good for writing that I edit for many days to only be available for ~150 people. Financially, it seems like my goal should be to make my writing available for everyone, so that more people can be interested in my writing, so that more people will buy my books, so that I can make more money off my books, which should be my main source of income.

I'm making ~$400 per post on Patreon now. Maybe it does seem like a good idea. I'm not sure. Even if I was making $1000 per post, it doesn't seem good for the posts to only be available to members. Part of the point of writing for me is to spread information. Patreon feels kind of like a museum where you have to pay to get in.

Maybe if I were making $1000/post it could be worth it. I could make $20k/year for 20 posts a year. But then part of my time would be spent making ~1000-word posts instead of writing another book.

I've felt guilty sometimes, on Patreon, thinking that people need to pay $3 to read ~1000-word posts by me, when they could pay $15 for ~75,000-word books by me.

Maybe I'll end my Patreon and make the posts I've made there free. This kind of doesn't seem fair to the people who paid, because then they'll have paid just to read the things on there earlier than other people. I feel troubled by Patreon.

*UPDATE* I added a post that's free and public titled Canadian Gay Porn Site. *UPDATE*

*AUG 28 UPDATE* I made all the posts free/public and am stopping using Patreon. *AUG 28 UPDATE* 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Newspapers and Magazines

I've written for many newspapers and magazines. This post will list and discuss some of the ones I've written for multiple times. I've included normal magazines and also literary magazines. This is an incomplete list. Maybe I'll add to it over time.

Vice (52 times from 2007 to 2014)

Most of these are from three columns I had. One was Tao of Terence (on Terence McKenna and psychedelics); one was iPhone Photos of Taipei (to promote Taipei before it came out); one was Drug-Related Photoshop Art. I was paid the most for Tao of Terence. They offered $350 per post and I asked if I could have $600 per post and they said yes. Tao of Terence was the first form of Trip. I never read Vice anymore.

Thought Catalog (39 from 2010 to 2014)

The founder of Thought Catalog offered me $500 to write something for them when they first started and I wrote about Marina Abramović. Later, I was paid less, but they let me write whatever I wanted, resulting in articles like "Critical Analysis of Four Shoppers in a Japanese Supermarket from the Perspectives of Their Disapproving, Estranged Mothers" and "Top 10 Reasons You Should Read This Article." They published long pieces by me on the novel Almost Transparent Blue (~11k words) and the gorilla Koko (~5k). I never read Thought Catalog anymore and don't know anyone who does.

The Stranger (6 times from 2007 to 2014)

The Stranger is Seattle's main alternative weekly newspaper. They paid $300 to $800 I think, which seemed good. They let me profile myself in 2010 and put me on their cover.

 (5 times from 2007 to 2020)

NOON published short stories by me in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2020. The stories from 2008, 2009, and 2010 were excerpts of Richard Yates. The one from 2020 was an excerpt of Leave Society. For each story, Diane Williams would edit me down by an average of, I estimate, 50%. She would also sometimes move one line to some place different. After one or two times of her edits, I would try to anticipate her edits, but she would still have more deletions. Her way of editing is my favorite way of editing: editing down by deleting.

New York Tyrant Magazine
 (5 times from 2016 to 2020)

My friend Jordan edits New York Tyrant Magazine's online magazine. I think the online magazine started in 2016. The print magazine which my friend Gian edits has been around seemingly forever.

Granta (thrice from 2013 to 2018)

My essay "Final Fantasy III" is the most I've been paid—around $2850—for one piece of non-book writing. The essay was for a while going to be the first chapter of Leave Society but now it's just mentioned in Leave Society and not included. The essay is about my first three times being stoned around my parents, though this isn't mentioned in the essay.

Mississippi Review (thrice in 2006 and 2007)

The last story in Bed, "Sasquatch," was first published in MR, and they published two things by me online. Their online magazine was later retitled Blip Magazine and then New World Writing. The archives are here. Mississippi Review was edited by Frederick Barthelme until 2010. He published many of my favorite writers—Ann Beattie, Bobbie Ann Mason, Raymond Carver. I think he just edits the online magazine now. This story by Curtis Sittenfeld is one of my favorite stories.

bear parade (thrice in 2006 and 2007)

My friend Gene made this site.

New York Times (twice in 2013)

I wrote an opinion piece titled "When I Moved Online" that I was solicited for, and reviewed the novel Nothing by Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon.  When I was asked to review the novel, and started writing the review, I felt a lot of internalized pressure to write a review like what I imagined a NYTimes book review had to be like—summary of the book, state the books' positives and negatives, give a clear judgment on whether it was good, bad, terrible, brilliant, or what. I somehow was able to avoid doing all that, and my review ended up not offering any value judgment, but was more just analysis. I liked this because I don't like to think of art in terms of good or bad, or promote a view of art like that, but I don't think they liked it, and they didn't ask me to review again.

New York Observer (twice, in 2011 and 2014)

I wrote about the future of the novel (Christian Lorentzen solicited me for this and provided essays that I should read for it) and profiled Knausgaard.

Poetry Foundation (twice, in 2009 and 2010)

Poetry Foundation paid really well for short pieces. I think they paid $800 for this and $500 for this. They contacted and solicited me on their own.

Alice Blue Review (twice, in 2006 and 2007)

I'm surprised this still exists. They published pieces by me titled Exactly What I Want and Lisa Jarnot.

Eyeshot (twice, in I think 2005 and 2006)

These were among the first stories I published—"An E-mail I Sent Lorrie Moore" and "The Shark Was Stubborn & They Both Starved." When I started publishing in 2005 and 2006, I submitted to online magazines that mostly published short pieces—Pindeldyboz, Hobart, Monkeybicycle, It was fun.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Novel update and blog announcement

I turned in the second draft of my novel Leave Society, forthcoming summer 2021 from Vintage Books, on July 15. It’s ~82,000 words. Each of my novels has gotten longer. Eeeee Eee Eeee was ~35k words. Richard Yates was ~50k words. Taipei was ~75k words. I feel calm and wise having a steadily increasing novel length. I want my next novel to be shorter, though, maybe ~50k words.

Here are the word counts of all the drafts so far (the Jan 17, 2020 one counts as the first draft because it’s the first one I showed my editor/agent) of Leave Society:
Oct 12, 2018. 143,452 words.
Nov 22, 2018. 111,672 words, without prologue
Mar 6, 2019. 97,059 words, 7 parts, 50 chapters
May 7, 2019. 82,173 words, 4 parts, 40 chapters
Jul 21, 2019. 83,063 words, 4 parts, 36 chapters
Nov 4, 2019. 87,201 words, 4 parts, 35 chapters
Jan 17, 2020. 91,300 words, 4 parts, 32 chapters
July 15, 2020. 82,205 words, 4 parts, 31 chapters
The novel is set from November 2014 to January 2018. I used 526,939 words of notes—and probably around 100 hours of Voice Memos—that I took from October 2013 to January 2020 to help me write it. The 143,452 draft mentioned above is selections from the notes.

Some reasons I decided to start a blog:
1. I don't like everything I publish, on Medium, Patreon, Twitter, Instagram, having likes/favorites. It seems detrimental to mental health for everything I publish to have a number attached to it showing how much people like it.
2. I have a lot of extra material from writing Leave Society that I can talk about here, for example books or papers that I wanted to reference but didn't fit in the novel.
3. I liked having a blog from 2005-2013. It was called Reader of Depressing Books and four of the posts can still be read here. I regret deleting the rest of the blog. I probably had hundreds of posts. In 2013 and again in 2018 I had strong desires to winnow down my internet presence. Now it seems better to me to have more, rather than less, of my stuff online.
4. I liked when my friends had blogs and we all linked to each other's blogs on our blogs.
Another thought:
I decided to just have the default urls for my sites, for example having my main site by, and this blog be, in part because I used to have and somehow I couldn't get it renewed. There was some problem with Google, so I lost the url, and had to relink all my sites to my new url. Seems easier to just have the default url.