These Past Few Weeks in Review

So much has been happening, both pleasant (i.e., things listed below) and not-that-pleasant (e.g., grading students’ final assignments and tests). I think it best to write a review of the highlights of these past few weeks.

The Singapore Writers Festival

The decision to go to the Singapore Writers Festival was a somewhat last-minute one. But the literary agent I’ve been speaking with over the past few months about representing my novel encouraged me to go. I’d get to meet the other writers she represented, plus she told me I should start getting comfortable with thinking of myself as a ‘writer’. The whole experience turned out to be much more fun than I thought it would be. In addition to getting to spend time with my family (who lives in Singapore), I had the opportunity to reconnect with old acquaintances involved in the Singapore literary scene  as well as make some new ones, and attend a lot of interesting events. For example:

I got to chat for a short while with the Indonesian writer Ahmad Tohari.

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And I attended the launch for Boey Kim Cheng’s latest volume of poetry, Clear Brightness, at Books Actually. (Kim Cheng and I both teach at the same institution in Australia, so it was funny that we got to meet up in Singapore as well.)

And, I apparently have a literary agent for The Oddfits! She said that we’ll start working together at the end of January when a contract will be drawn up, etc. I’m a bit hesitant to state this publicly, since I’ve made the mistake before of announcing the imminent publication of The Oddfits, only to have complications ensure with the publisher. Maybe I’ll keep the name of the agent to myself right now. But my agent assured me that she definitely does want to work with me, so that’s good!

I even managed to get some closure regarding the non-publication of The Oddfits. I met up with the director of Ethos Books–the publishing house who’d initially agreed to publish it–and over our bowls of lor mee, we had a nice chat. He emphasized that it wasn’t because it was a bad novel, but rather, because they’d been quite swamped with other projects, and that publication with Ethos was still a possibility if I was interested. It was nice to get to talk about it rather than leave the whole issue in the land of awkwardness and bad feelings. I think for now, I’m still going with the agent. And we’ll see what unfolds.

A Short Story Published in Transnational Literature

Since getting the novel out of my system, I’ve been writing short stories. One of them has just come out in an online academic and creative writing journal called Transnational Literature. It’s called ‘Old Maid’ and you can find it here.

Another Year in Newcastle!

My contract has been renewed at Newcastle for at least another year! Another year of being a lecturer! I get to teach classes in world literature, Victorian literature, and some Asian literary works!

Preparing for Fieldwork in East Kalimantan

I’m planning to head to East Kalimantan in late January and early February to interview writers for my ongoing research project on contemporary literature in East Kalimantan. I’m a bit nervous about it, though I’m not entirely sure why. But it will be good. I am sure of it.

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