I was a combat photojournalist in Vietnam. I have published fiction, creative non-fiction, memoirs, book reviews, and essays. I am known as Crawdaddy to my Yellow Lab, Scout.
I lived in Brooklyn until I was nine and the Navajo and Hopi reservations until I was 15. I have a BA in religious studies and an MA in writing.
I started writing stories when I lived on the reservation, and I tried to write like Chris Claremont. In my stories I am writing about a character who wants to find and hold onto his identity, and has a need to return to traditions.
No one else from Brooklyn went to elementary school in a Hopi village, so I tell my own story now, as a writer. I spent most of high school in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Most of my favorite writers have at least two things in common: they form obsessive relationships with language and they mythologize the familiar. On the Bay is more than anything a reflection of that. The metaphor is excessive, the characters are sympathetic, the back story slightly overwrought. Cecelia herself is a mythmaker, repeatedly aggrandizing her rejection. But probably we each do similar things in our real lives as well, to give gravity to what might otherwise remain mundane or unrelatable. Or because our lives simply feel this big to us.
Lofty statements. But at twenty-five years old I try to remind myself often that I don’t know shit. The human experience is diverse and translation remains an imperfect science. You nod to the discord, the incredible esotery, while trying to figure out your own corner. In a lot of ways even my own life feels untended. Things happen. Sometimes you simply end up places. I just moved across the country (as well as over some serious cultural lines and away from certain things that definitely didn’t feel “finished”) and find myself thinking this way a lot lately.
Which is not to say that l’ve lived recklessly. Far from it in fact. For most of my life I’ve lived too cautiously, attempting to out-plan chance and to stay aloof from the currents that afflicted everyone else. This perhaps suited a writer’s lifestyle, or how I thought one ought to look like. Only recently did the self-defeat inherent in such a posture become apparent to me. Since then I’ve been much happier, but also, yes, a little more reckless, a little more unsure. The more you stay involved, the more you intimate you become with uncertainty.
Where I am now, it’s become a constant tension between necessary routine and good work on the one hand and dipping into the excess of social life and small chaos of change on the other. I consider both to be necessary. And a similar tension exists for me in writing, that of the strain between the need to simply do good storytelling and the desire to give into a rather self-indulgent aesthetic. This is an issue I don’t think I’m anywhere close to resolving, but like anything else, you get better at it by doing it. You learn when to pull back and when to go in for more. You get closer to an instinct by making your brain exist in that mode of thinking as much as possible.
And that’s really the only hard and fast rule I have about writing. I write every day, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes. Even if what I write is unusable and I never read it again, I always try to sit down and push words out at least once a day.
Part of the reason for that rule is I knew if I wanted to do this thing, I’d really have to learn what putting in the hours would be like. The ultimate goal has always been to fill my cup through words. I want to write novels. I want to write cycles of bad poetry. I want to read both deeply and widely. I want to wake up in the morning and know I can spend hours doing that. I just completed a second draft on a novel and I am already making notes for two more. The list of books I need to read has become simply unfeasible. Time is the issue more often than not. There are too many things to do. Between half-heartedly chasing a music career, working a full-time job, making sure a very rambunctious pup stays happy, and keeping up with the people I’ve been fortunate enough to have around me, the daily experience often feels overwhelming.
But honestly, this a good problem to have. I know what I want and the work is rewarding. On the scale of things, that’s probably pretty lucky.
My writing has been published in the Southwestern Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, and the e-zine Beguiled. In 2012 I won the Judge Felix J Voorhies Award for Creative Writing while attending the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
KAREN BREMER MASUDA
Writing grounds me. I get ideas from everything around me, TV, my own life, and mostly my own imagination. Living in Japan opens a well spring forever bubbling with possibilities from which I ladle out ideas for use in my writing. Getting across thoughts and emotions that are culturally different is also a challenge which I enjoy. I hope there are many more good stories in me.
I am delighted that this is the fifth time for me to be published in the 34thParallel Magazine. Some of my short stories have been published in Poor Mojo’s Almanac(k), Miranda Magazine, and Driftwood.
My goals as a writer are of course to keep writing and to get that writing published, but I am also saving money to take part in writers conferences. I think I could grow as a writer through such experiences. I would really like to be a part of something bigger than myself, a community of writers.
I live in Shizuoka with my husband, adult son, and three felines, two of which are twin kittens. I love taking pictures of them as well as the beautiful scenery which is sometimes as close as the sky outside our 10-storey apartment building.
I recently completed my fourth novel titled Intangibles for which this story is the sixth chapter. The novel spans the lifetime of Janie Matsushita, an American woman living with her family, husband, three kids, and pets in Shizuoka Japan. It covers several episodes in Janie’s life which have the common thread of intangibility. From her first love, which also turns out to be her last love, to the revelation of Kazu, her husband’s infidelity, all include moments that defy understanding, moments that are rare and special in many ways. These moments are rendered as part of the intangibility of Janie’s life which gives it a shape unique to itself. Janie’s intangible episodes are a part of what makes her who she is. She is able to pull through life with the most important things intact.
I am working on a memoir about my 10 summers in Zambia since the age of 10, the kidnapping of my mother, the deaths of my mother and brother when I was 18. I’m also in the process of writing a novel which focuses on a drug war between a pharmaceutical corporation and a drug cartel in Dallas. Corporations and other purportedly reputable institutions can be just as evil as the underworld, an urgent topic considering the current opioid epidemic. My work has also appeared in A Gathering of the Tribes.
I am from Queens, New York, a first generation American born to Ecuadorian parents which gave me the best and worst of both worlds. Like many first generation Americans I was born with all the expectations and dreams immigrant parents have for their children. I got a childhood that was filled with traditional Ecuadorian values and at the same time the freedom and education that only life in the US could offer. As I grew up I struggled with being an Ecuadorian woman and what was expected of me in that traditional sense and what I wanted for myself, freedom to make my own decisions.
My parents both died from cancer when I was young. My mother’s death when I was 14 deeply affected my decisions and what I wanted from my future. I started to question what I had been taught was acceptable for women and this is what led me to write this story. It is based on a time I spent in Ecuador after my mother’s death with my aunt. It is about what I observed and what I felt was wrong even when everyone around me accepted these things as a “woman’s cross to bear”. It was not easy to say no, this isn’t right and I do not want to accept this for myself. This story is about my break from tradition and non-acceptance of my lot in life. It’s about becoming a woman torn between two worlds.
I started writing after my mother’s death and I found that it healed me. Finding myself as a teenager alone in the world I turned to writing as my comfort and my confessor. Even when what I wrote was ugly and disappointing I never censored it. I never wrote expecting anyone to see what I was writing, so through the years I’ve filled notebooks with raw truth, exposing myself in every entry. Now that I am 42, a married, stay-at-home mom of three in Richmond, Virginia, I’ve come to the realization that I want to professionally pursue writing and instead of hiding my work in old suitcases and boxes I want to put it out there and if it’s interesting to anyone, great, and if it brings bitter judgement, well, that’s the risk I take. To me writing is a miracle, what a pen and paper can do. You can pour your thoughts, emotions onto paper and it brings about healing, it calms pain and helps you see your life and world in a different perspective and sometimes it can even save you. That’s what it did for me.
If I could give anyone any advice on writing, it’s write from your heart and write as if no one will read it but yourself because that’s when all the truth truly comes out, when you best express yourself and are true to the art. I’m no expert (far from it) but at least that’s what it means to me.
It took me years to write A Name I Would Know. During my 20s I was terrified of getting what I wanted in life and even more scared of failing—as a writer, as a professional, as a friend, a daughter, a person. It took me a long time to work my way out of that. And then there was Holly—and the Hollys of the world. They blew my mind. How had they figured it all out? What made them so confident, so fearless?
It wasn’t until much later that I recognized the differences between us were not about having it all figured out, but about confidence, social class, and a lot of other stuff. Mine played a huge role too. I was very uncomfortable with my own ambition. It took a good decade for me to really make friends with my ambition, to begin to nurture those impulses rather than question them or tamp them down. Knowing Holly ultimately helped me figure that out.
My work has been published in The Cincinnati Review, Pleiades, South Loop Review, Santa Fe TREND, and elsewhere. Now I’m at work on a mixed-form memoir about feminism, motherhood and loss. I have an English degree from the University of New Hampshire and a publishing degree from Emerson college in Boston.
I’m an amateur astronomer and spend much of my free time (when I probably should be writing) looking at the night sky through a telescope. For me, astronomy is a way for me to escape the temporal world, and to lose myself in the subtle splendor of stars, comets, and planets.
I’m a native Texan who moved to Houston in the 1980s to be a corporate copywriter. When I could no longer bear writing about computer hardware, food products, or Japanese cars—I went back to school and got a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing at Sam Houston State University.
I teach English classes to pay the bills, and I am a tenured English professor at a Dodge City Community College in western Kansas. (In the late 19th-century Dodge City was known as the wickedest town in the American West. The most wicked thing about Dodge today is the smell from the beef-processing plants).
I wrote and edited a collaborative biography called Resurrecting Trash: Dan Phillips and the Phoenix Commotion (Texas Review Press), about the eco-pioneer homebuilder, Dan Philips. A chapter from my novel Mourning Jewelry was published in the Texas Review.
My scholarly work includes a paper, Realism Meets the Surreal: Exploring the Supernatural in Guy de Maupassant’s Short Stories, which I presented at La Maison Française, New York University.