Lost Teeth

Today at home:

6 yo niece (face bloody): WAAAAAH! Mommy! I lost 2 teeth!
Sis and me: oh no! are you okay! what happened? which teeth?
6 yo niece: the ones that were wiggly!
Me: phew!!!!! what happened?
Niece: I don’t know! they just came out! Now I can’t find them!
Sis: what were you doing? where were you?
Niece: *crying* I don’t know!
Me: Let’s ask my daughter.

7 yo Daughter comes downstairs with a funny expression.
Me: what happened?
Daughter: we were playing tug of war!
Me: did someone hit her in the face?
Daughter: I don’t know. No. We didn’t.
Me: I don’t get it, what happened? How did her teeth come out?
Daughter: We were playing tug of war with our mouths*–

Me: HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAAHAHAHAHA

They wanted me to write a story about this, but I decided on a blog post.
*”with our mouths” as in they were using their mouths to tug the ribbon they were using.

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On speaking up and on resolutions for the future

I have been involved in many “diversity in literature” discussions over the couple years, and it has been an emotional roller coaster to say the least. Between writing and parenting I don’t spend a lot of time reading the newest and latest books (I’m still catching up on the newest and latest books from two years ago..)

One thing I always worry about: should I speak up about problematic elements in books when I read them? Is there a point in speaking up if it’s a book that has won awards and sold zillions of copies (esp. one that is supposed to be a great “diverse” book)? What are the consequences if I do? What if I LOVED the book except for that one element that was completely, blatantly offensive?

I believe as an adult writing for those younger than myself, I have the power to shape hearts and minds. Kids and teens are still forming their own opinions about themselves and the world. This is a powerful place position to be in. How children’s authors speak and how they behave, (and especially what they write) gets passed along to future generations. It galls me when people minimize this responsibility.

There are not that many Indian Americans in American publishing. I’ve occasionally been in a unique situation due to my background/expertise to speak up, but I cannot represent every Indian Americna out there. Friends or family often disagree with me on what is offensive and what isn’t offensive. I often feel like a lone voice. I wonder, am I being oversensitive? Am I, as an unpublished writer, simply jealous of particular author? I’m human after all.

I’ve also had concerns about my budding writing career, about unwittingly severing ties with publishers who may be upset about me pointing out racism in their books. More importantly though, speaking up about racism has been hard because of fear for my personal safety. I have heard several instances of women speaking up online, being harassed online, and then being targeted IN PERSON. Is my personal safety worth it?

I wrote a version of this blog post earlier last month (i.e. pre-election) in response to a question an author posted on Facebook after reading an egregiously offensive book by an award-winning author. I saved my thoughts as a draft. Cut and pasted. Edited. Saved the draft again. Went back to a previous version. Dithered about whether or not to post.

After this election, I’m convinced that it is vitally important to speak up about racism in all aspects of life, not just publishing. For the rest of the year and into the next, I resolve not to worry so much about other people’s opinions about me speaking up. With the political landscape the way it is, artists and writers must be more honest and open. We must not succumb to the shaming that happens online for voicing dissenting opinions. We must not let this country become a place where it is not safe to be a lone voice.

I hope you are with me on this.

Best wishes for the new year,

Amitha

 

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Writer

Am I a Writer with a capital W or a lowercase one, written in pencil?

 

PS For those of you who have no idea what this is about: I decided to transcribe some of the poems and ideas I wrote in the little purple notebook I keep next to my bed. 

I almost didn’t include this one, but then I decided it was a good example of things that pop into my head. Do you have an idea notebook (or like me “notebooks” plural)? What do you write in yours?

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Freeflow

Why do the words flow freer when I’m tired

When I’m half asleep

Body aching, footsore from a long day of mothering.

 

Children clinging to my legs,

wanting me closer,

closer

Though my mind wanders,

my heart stays

with them.

 

And the words come in my mind,

flowing through the pencil

after bedtime.

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If I knew

If I knew what you meant to her,

It wouldn’t have happened that way.

I would’ve gone without you

to another land

to another place.

 

Instead I stayed,

and we were never apart.

But we should’ve been.

 

(Like I said, these poems come to me when I’m falling asleep so I don’t always know exactly what they are about. Or if I did at the time, I have no idea now! Maybe it was a book I was reading at the time?) :) ASJK

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Waves

(This poem is inspired by a character in one of my manuscripts. but I probably will not use it since her backstory has changed…)

The night was black, and the the ocean pounded, pounded, pounded agains the rocks.

My father was gone, gone, gone.

And it beat a hole against the rocks, made a cave in my chest.

Sometimes the water floods in, makes it feel full, and sometimes

it’s empty.

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In My Heart I Am a Poet

As promised last week, here is one of the poems from my little purple notebook.

In my heart, I am a poet.

But the words won’t come

       when bidden.

They come in the night when the world is asleep

         when my mind is empty

and quiet as the room.

Warm cat purring,

down comforter comforting,

a blanket of sleep squeezing tight.

Awake, the words fail to delight.

No longer profound.

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Little Purple Notebook

Sometimes when I’m tired, sentences pop into my head.

I scribble them down in a little purple notebook that I keep by my bedside. Mostly they are story ideas that may or may not go anywhere, or ideas for solving a problem in one of my manuscripts, but occasionally I jot down a poem.

Some of these poems are seared into my brain; some of them I forget as soon as they’re written down. (Sometimes my pen is an eraser of memories.)

I was glancing through my little purple notebook today and thought why not put them in my blog?

So over the next few weeks I’ve scheduled some of them to go online.

I’ll tag them: Little Purple Notebook. I’ll post them approximately once a week until I run out, or until I decide the posts are too embarrassing and I need to delete them all…

:) ASJK

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Banned Book Week Discussion

Hi Everyone!

I’m going to be participating in a discussion about banned books as part of Banned Book Week Discussion at Falmouth Public Library. The other speakers will include: author I.W. Gregorio (Ilene Wong), Stephanie Seales, and Sara Hines from Eight Cousins Bookstore in Falmouth.

If you can’t come–I know it’s a little far for some of my Boston area kidlit friends–please share with your friends!

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What’s Amitha up to?

Hi everyone! It’s been a long while since my last blog post. I’ve been busy this summer with my family, my writing projects, and my volunteer projects.

My family’s been busy this summer, going to museums, the beach, hanging out at the neighborhood pool, playing video games, and of course, reading a million books. My younger child is now 3 and has camp 3 days a week over the summer (not every week), so I’ve been enjoying spending time with her while my 6yo is at camp. Unfortunately, this means serious jealousy–the girls fight over their precious time with me–but the 6 yo loves being with friends and has a lot of energy, so she also really, really going to camps. (“Can I PLEASE go to that swimming camp again this year? I’ll be so sad if I can’t!”)

As far as my writing goes, I have been plugging away at my rewrites of middle grade fantasy I co-wrote with my sister a few years ago, based on my trip to Jantar Mantar.  The book was originally in third person, focusing on one character, then it was in first person, and now I’m doing third person again, but alternating between two characters and fleshing out the worldbuilding more. So there’s been a lot of thinking and rewriting and deleting involved!

For the first time, I’ve also been working on picture books! I’ve been wanting to write a picture book for a while, and for some reason, the ideas never flowed for me. I’ve been tinkering with them here and there over the past two years, but it’s taken me some time to get some stories that felt really original enough to pursue. Plus after 6 years of reading them every day to my kids,  I have more of a sense of the rhythm and flow of how the text flows, and the ideas for those have been coming more frequently.

I’m also taking on some freelance work, and in September, I’ll be on a panel at Eight Cousins Bookstore and also attending this workshop at Highlights, which I’m excited about! I’ve been wanting to go the Highlights Foundation for a while now and this was a great opportunity. Thanks to my husband for agreeing to solo parent for a few days right at the beginning of the school year! I may post some pictures if I manage to take good ones with my cell phone.

As far as volunteering goes, I’m now Social Media Manager at WNDB, and also still work on the boskidlit calendar when I have time. Unfortunately I just noticed that the google calendar does not have as many items on it as the Facebook calendar. Oh dear. I guess I’d better fix that soon.

Anyway, I think that’s it. I’ve been doing a lot, so yeah. It might be a while before I blog again.

Catch you later!

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