• LOVE IMAGINED memoir in progress

    Date: 2012.05.26 | Category: LOVE IMAGINED, The Art of Writing | Tags: ,,,,,,

    LOVE IMAGINED:  memoir of a Chinese Black Girl Passing for White in South Scandinavian Minneapolis

    When we talk about the witness in our verse,
    we talk about you.
    A pure heart and a noble demeanor
    cannot compete with your radiant face.
    They will ask you
    what you have produced.
    Say to them,
    except for Love,
    what else can a Lover produce?

    Shahram Shiva’s book
    Hush Don’t Say Anything to God: Passionate Poems of Rumi
    (Jain Publishing)

    I have been writing LOVE IMAGINED for four or five years now or maybe a lifetime.  I thought it was a book of love poems, poems that took love beyond a cliché and extended it into a global more meaningful perspective.  Alas, I failed to write more than a few poems, lousy ones at that.  However, at some juncture, a meeting of crisis and determination, I realized the “witness in [my] verse” can only be what it is and it is what it has always been the story of a Black Chinese Girl Passing for White in South Scandinavian Minneapolis in the sixties!

    However, writing prose instead of poetry has given me space to be more specific, my experience and understanding of it less metaphorical and more boldly outright.  Yes, I think that’s possible.

    A few things happened recently that have challenged me to post the process and the progress of writing LOVE IMAGINED.  One, an emotional outburst led me to sharing the draft of my  memoir to select friends, most who read the very rough draft and encouraged me to keep writing (indeed, my publisher hired an editor and said write the book).  Two, I missed a workshop on “blogging” sponsored by Springboard for the Arts.  The instructor allowed me to make up the class one on one.   I said I didn’t know what to write about, did I need to have a theme, or what?  He suggested a scrapbook type of blog, one which shared the process of writing the book that I was researching and writing.  Aha!  Third push-I was asked to join two other Modern History Press writers to read at Homewood Studio Studio in North Minneapolis.  Preparing for the reading led me to re-member my connections to North Minneapolis which led me to my aunt-her writing, and her stories that are deeply connected to my story!

    Although LOVE IMAGINED has been in progress as a prose memoir since August 2011 (it gave me something to do after having been laid off from an almost ten year job-almost the key word here and the difference between healthcare until I am eligible for Medicare AND having to go without healthcare for five or six months) I will start where I am in the process just to get started.  This will be one of the longer posts as way of introduction, but just so you know I will try to remain less wordy.

    Where the book is now.  Although I’ve been told to just keep writing, I felt I didn’t have anything else to say. I felt I had written all of the stories that I know that are important to LOVE IMAGINED.  So today, instead of continuing to do nothing because stories weren’t revealing themselves to me and I wanted to move forward, I decided to divide the manuscript into sections, sections that I gave titles to, titles that will now, hopefully, help me see what is missing, what more I should write or what I need to delete whether because it’s not relevant or I’ve said it too many times.

    Here are the categories:

    LOVE IMAGINED:   memoir of a Chinese Black Girl Passing for White in South Scandinavian Minneapolis

    Table of Contents

    FAIRY TALE PRINCESS LIVING IN SOUTH SCANDINAVIAN MINNEAPOLIS

    LOOKING FOR LOVE UNDER THE SHEETS

    THE PRINCESS LEARNS ABOUT CAPITALISM, SEXISM, RACISM and HYPOCRISY

    AN EXTRAORDINARY POST SECONDARY EDUCATION or “because she was a nigger”

    FROM THE DAY I WAS BORN:  ONCE A PRINCESS ALWAYS A PRINCESS/HOW TO LOOK LIKE THE PRINCESS YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE

    HER BODY BOUND WITH JIM CROW, KKK, and RACE RIOTS-IT’S ALL ABOUT IMAGE

    SHAME FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION FROM MOTHER TO DAUGHTER

    A HOUSE IN THE SUBURBS AND A TWO CAR GARAGE HALLELUJA PRAISE THE LORD

    GREAT GRANDMOTHER WAS A SLAVE COURTED BY THE PLANTATION OWNER’S SON

    SHE KISSED TOO MANY FROGS NONE OF THEM PRINCES

    BINGING: DRINKING, GAMBLING, SHOPPPING, EATING

    IF IT WALKS LIKE A DUCK IT CAN’T BE A FROG

    THE PRINCESS GOES A-TENTING AND THEN THERE WERE WORMS

    HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS AND THE MORTGAGE IS CHEAP

    LOVE IMAGINED

    I DIDN’T LEAVE YOUR MOTHER SHE KICKED ME OUT

    FATHER’S RACE CHINESE MOTHER’S RACE NEGRO

    A LITTLE MIXED UP

    LOVE SEES NO COLOR/YOU BETCHA IT DOES

    I believe titles are so important. Not only to engage readers, but to move the story forward, to show there is a story!  For now, these titles are just place markers helping me, the writer, to organize a book that is now merely a long long stream of consciousness.  These titles, for now, are my map to where I’ve been and where I’m going (reference BLACK GIRL IN PARIS by Shay Youngblood) .

    But what about the overall theme?  I think the theme has to do with how the historical events of the fifties and sixties, events I wasn’t much aware of, affected who I am.   Although I had learned that identity is complex and the intersections of class, race, gender, age, and ability all contribute to one’s identity, it is only recently that the lightbulb went on and  knew what was missing:  history!  How to integrate history into my story? How to connect all the events of the fifties and sixties to who I am?  Did I really not know about the Civil Rights Movement as it was happening?

    I welcome comments regarding process or theme, anything to help me finish LOVE IMAGINED.    How do I understand any relevant connections between the Civil Rights Movement, The Viet Nam War,  the Hippie Movement, etc. and me?

    WOODSTOCK Country Joe’s Anti Vietnam War Song

    March on Washinton August 28, 1963

    Copyright Sherry Quan Lee May 26, 2012