I can’t believe it’s been one year since Watering Heaven released. It’s been an incredible year and I’ve learned so much, seriously seriously humbled by people’s kind reviews, as well as learning a lot from people’s critiques. Of the personal highlights, Watering Heaven became an Amazon best-seller through February and March, was long-listed for the prestigious Frank O’Connor Award, and was reviewed by many of my favorite literary magazine (including Hyphen Magazine, JMWW, Prick of the Spindle, and many others).
In terms of reflection, I think back a lot (and I know I’ve said this in interviews) about my time in the cafes of Beijing, writing the stories, coming up with weird concepts, bouncing them off of Angela, typing them out and sending them off to various literary magazines, wondering if they would hate the stories and tell me never to send anything again. I remember first getting a call from Howard Junker at ZYZZYVA telling me he really enjoyed Forbidden City Hoops which was an honor considering how I loved the magazine since I first found about it during my time at Berkeley (it was also the first time I ever got a phone call for an acceptance). Many of the stories in WH are almost 3-4 years old and I’ve changed a lot as a writer since writing them. When I re-read them, sometimes I wonder, did I really write that? And it makes me chuckle (or cringe, depending on the story, ha ha). When I was putting the collection together, one of the ideas I had was naming all the characters in all the stories the same. They shared the theme of “love” in odd circumstances (which is why understandably, some reviewers have pointed out the repetitious structure). In fact, the structure was something I used as a framework while adding variety through the characters and stories. It’s a concept I took from game engines that get constantly finessed with sequels. Rather than a new sequel or iteration of a game, I was composing new stories. I tried to see how many different ways I could tell a love story, how many different ways I could explore an identity crisis. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. All in all, I had fun with each story, even if some were more painful to write than others because of the way I tried to lay bare truths that haunted and wracked me.
THANK YOU to everyone, not just people who has read the book (though you get a triple thanks), but to anyone who’s shared the word, written a review, told a friend, or just sent me a nice word of encouragement. It’s the readers that have made this book so special and without you, writers would not exist! Thank you again! I leave off with this fantastic review at JMWW about Watering Heaven (of which I’ll write more later this week!)
*Special thanks to Frances for posting this beautiful image in her review of Watering Heaven