Double-Dutch Dreams

It was early in the morning as groups of students walked to school. The air was crisp and fresh dew was on everything on that March morning. The tule fog was hovering just a little below our ankles, something we had come to expect living in the San Joaquin Valley. On days where the tule fog was well over 100-feet tall, you would hear of people dying due to automobile accidents because the fog is too thick and people can’t see more than one foot in front of them. Kids would play hide-and-seek in fields when the fog was that tall.

Some kids were bunched up in groups talking about their latest crushes or the latest episode of “Dawson’s Creek” the night before. We walked down an unpaved sidewalk that was damp from the fog, so that the dust that would normally form was just cool hardened earth, packed under our feet. I decided to walk by myself that morning, allowing the morning noises to take up my consciousness.

There was still about half a mile to go before crossing the street to the middle school that was just a series of bungalows and cement squares. A make-shift school for a district that was over-populated with low-income and poverty-stricken families. Some worked on farms, others in factories, and others surviving off of welfare.

“Hey! Renee! Wait up!” Continue reading

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NaNoWriMo – Day 4: I’ve Hit a Snag

33 Weeks with my first daughter

I’ve somewhat hit a snag of sorts…

Writing this narrative of one of my characters has been very emotionally draining for me and the only reason I can think of is that it’s because she’s 12-years-old and pregnant.

I’ve always had a strong conviction against child brides, but I have to write about this dark part of my culture.

I crawl into that adolescent mind–emotional and visceral. I bare her irrational and callous decisions. However, the most surprising part is that it’s not hard for me to put myself there. I was once dumb and stupid and filled with teenage hormones, too. I can also understand some of her rash decisions because I am pregnant right now as well.

My husband has been incredibly supportive of my decision to write, and has been great to bounce ideas off of. As I noted in my previous post about how I setup my stories, but it didn’t dawn on me how sick to my stomach I felt until I was talking about my characters with him. As I said, “So, she’s 12-years-old and pregnant,” we both had the same reaction and made the same grimace.

“But I have to write about this,” in which he agreed.

So, even though I want to quit and give up, I will keep writing. Besides, these aren’t even the hardest portion of the story I will be writing. No spoilers just yet but, it’s going to be intense, or at least I hope I can write it as such.

NaNoWriMo Day 3 – I’d Rather Be Running A (Half) Marathon

This time last year I was anxiously awaiting the next day. I had been training for 8 months to go from couch potato to running in a 13.1 mile race across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I had never ran in a race before besides 1 mile sprints in middle school. I recalled how my fastest mile ever was 6’20”. Now, 13 years later, I was about to run my first half marathon.

I recall how one day in March, I woke up at 7 AM and said to myself, “I’m going to go run.” My daughter was just under two-years-old and I hadn’t exercised regularly since I was in grade school. To say I was out of shape was putting it lightly.

I grabbed the closest thing to gym clothing I could put together, strapped on my 4 year old Onitsuka Tiger Asics, and dusted off my Crunch gym membership that I had previously signed up for a year previously put never went in. I kissed my sleeping husband and said I was going to the gym. He grumbled something close to, “Why?” and fell back asleep.

I drove 15-minutes to get to the gym, and even in that time, I still was pumped. I wanted to run.

I hopped onto a treadmill and then ran my first 1.5 mile in years. It took me 15 minutes, but I did it.

I continued to do that for 3 weeks straight. Every morning. Everyday. For 15 days before buying my first pair of actual running shoes and performance outfit.

It wasn’t until 3 months into training I decided to run a half-marathon. I was scared, but I knew that if I didn’t put an end-goal to it, I would quit. I always needed a challenge. Some adversity to face for motivation. I signed up for the US Half Marathon that takes place in San Francisco.

Suffice to say, I survived my first half-marathon, running it in 2’45” and the next time I run it, I will do even better!

And so, here we are a year later with NaNoWriMo.

Why wouldn’t I complete a novel on my own? I guess it’s because I need a challenge.

Good luck to all those who are running the US Half tomorrow! I’d rather be running. 🙂

NaNoWriMo – Day 2: Exhaustion Sets In…

The title seems a little exaggerated because of the fact that it’s only the second day of NaNoWriMo. I can explain, I promise!

Today started off early as I had to take my mother-in-law to the airport. Got home at around 8:30 AM and pounded out another 500 words until I fell over from exhaustion.

Got some great notes in for Chapter 2, and wrapping up Chapter 1.

For my career, I have to write a lot–a lot of it is extremely technical in nature–where I am pouring over pages and pages of documentation. Doing that for over 8 years can get extremely tiresome and can zap all will to write creatively, and I would say that is the main reason why I had stopped writing, for the most part.

Prose just didn’t seem interesting to me anymore.

Novels seemed arduous, tedious and just overall very time consuming.

However, now that I’ve finally got the juices of creativity flowing, come and delve into the seemingly oddball brain of mine so that I can spill how I kind of organize my thoughts and execute off of them. This is mostly for my own benefit, so please excuse the brain dump. 🙂

Some people just jump right into writing. I like to at least outline the plot before diving in. If it’s a novel, I’ll write down the main characters, their main background, hint at their “trigger” that makes the story relevant as to why I am writing at all, and then will draw up a couple of supporting characters.

If I really have someone in mind, I’ll even write some one-liners to help describe the type of person they are and build their character a teeny bit before diving in. Once I feel that I’ve established enough baseline, I’ll even write some important places that I think it should take place, time periods that I want to reference, maybe even write a paragraph of something that I would want to include into the story in some form or fashion.

Extremely important for me. I hate that I do it, but sometimes I’ll get hung up on a specific detail and will stop writing to Google something that I may not be 100% sure of.

Also, sometimes, the research can come even before I’ve created the brainstorm. I’ll hear an interesting retelling of a family story, or read a particular news article and think, “Hey! I really like that. I’m going to write something about it.”

And because I am a techie kind of person, near 100% of my research is scrapped together as news clippings or hyperlinks scattered in my Gmail inbox or Google Docs. Saving the information in a “cloud” (as all of the hipstastic people like to call it), making the information more readily accessible is extremely helpful. I have about 15 FBI reports sitting in my Gmail just waiting for me to dust it off and start using them.

Doing it!
Getting the job done. Going in and writing to my hearts content. I will often times have false starts where I start a story of a particular person, get several chapters into it, and then write another narrative.

This will be the first time where I am now going to combine all of the narratives into one cohesive story.

What a pain! The best thing about this portion though is that I get to rely on some of my most supportive people to help me piece the things together.

I have a tendency to write pieces that seemed to have flown together very well in my head but then it kind of just patters off into oblivion. That’s where I love that I have an amazing arsenal of friends, mentors, and family members who are not afraid of being some of my harshest critics.


I’ve always just written for my own enjoyment, so now that I actually want to do this “publishing” thing, I have to actually sit down and buckle up and get to the last portion of things “Finalizing!” Hopefully, I get to write about that some day.

Here’s to 28 more days of NaNoWriMo!

My First NaNoWriMo

Hello Everyone,

I thought I would go ahead and start off my blog by keeping track of my progress of my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)! I’m pretty excited as this is the first time that I am actually going to commit to doing this program.

The main reason that I decided that now was a good time to start writing was because I’ve been wanting to write this particular novel for some time. Semi-autobiographical, and full of cultural themes, I wanted bring light to the not often-written about Hmong American.

Today is the first day and I guess I would say that I’ve been prepping for this day for the last five years.

Wish me luck! I need to get back to writing!

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