Darien Hsu Gee( @dariengee) is an award-winning scribe who has been recognized for her succeed across numerou genres. She’s been published by large publishing lives as well as small-minded regional indie pulps and has been represented by multiple literary agents. Recently, she went back to school for her style MFA at the age of 50.
Most recently, Darien started exploring the micro-essay genre, and last year she published Allegiance, a new memoir consisting of micro-essays. It’s part of a new succession for which she also helps as founding writer, dedicated to Hawaiian personal narratives.
Because of this new venture on the Hawaiian publishing scene, as well as her innumerable artistic fulcrums, I was eager to learn more about her revelations into the business of publishing.
Jane Friedman: Many traditionally published authors–especially one who has triumphed substantial bestows and gifts, like yourself–can be reluctant to get into the business of publishing themselves or others. They worry about credibility, there are issues of status anxiety, and of course it can be hard to get attention or visibility with brand-new crusades. Have these concerns weighed on you at all?
Darien Hsu Gee: That’s a great question, and I’ve confronted with it over the years, roughly to the point where it’s paralyzed me because I felt like it had to be done a certain way or not at all. I was leery about “doing it wrong” and sabotaging future possibilities because I had gone out on my own.
For a few years, it looked like that was the lawsuit, and I lastly surrendered and said, “Oh well.” It was freeing. I was back at the beginning, so to speak — no agent , no brand-new work , no big publisher — so in a way I had nothing to lose. That mindset opened up more opportunities and allowed me to make imaginative perils which ended up paying off.
I think it’s important to have a strategic approaching to your literary busines, if that is what’s important to you. You was also necessary weigh your aspirations against your horrors. I could smell my nervousness taking over, and if the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s to live in the present. I have had to reinvent myself so many times in my literary career–when I was “trending down” as a midlist writer and told I couldn’t be sold again, and then when I was sold again( and at auctioneer ), I was told again I probably couldn’t be sold again because the auction was so significant that anything short of a bestseller would be considered a fail( spoiler: it wasn’t a bestseller ).
That saved me from writing for a few years, and then I fell into a project because I wanted to help novelists in Hawaii tell their fibs, and that launched me into something new.
I did self-publish a few entitlements that didn’t do as well as my commercially wrote manipulate, but they facilitated pay the bills and allowed me to keep writing. And then I earned some grants and a companionship, and then a Poetry Society of America award. Now, at 52, I don’t make fear stop me from creating and moving forward as an author.
You’ve talked about being open to artistic pivots–that they don’t have to be permanent or forever, and they can be a way to honor one’s innovative spokesperson, peculiarly if you’re stuck. Have you been feeling poked( especially or perhaps with more traditional endeavours )?
Looking back, I feel like I’ve spent almost as much time being stick as being in the flow, and a lot of that was because I was stand in my own road. Frights, anxiety, nervousnes about doing it right- those are creativity killers right there. I don’t think there’s a “right” way any more, and I don’t think there’s any “one” way to do anything, including publishing.
Creative centres are all about biding adaptable and open. And guess what? You can swivel again even after you’ve rotated the first or second or third occasion — it’s a dynamic, organic process.
These other projects I’ve worked on — the poetry chapbook, the memoir craft records, the micro memoir writing planned and hybrid publishing position, other material creating endeavors — exist in their own universe and have their own path. Once I was ready to listen, it became clear to me what attitude I wanted to go with them.
How did the most recent Hawaii publishing venture to be implemented?
The Hali’a Aloha micro memoir line and hybrid publishing platform was delivery and launched this year because of the pandemic — a regional publisher and I were talking about how we hoped beings were finding ways to tell their legends during this difficult time. And I said, “The micro narrative format would be perfect because it’s less demanding”( micro narratives are 300 messages or less ). The program was born.
Then, another indie publisher, Woodhall Press, approached me a couple months ago because of the manipulate I was doing with micro narrations and women’s expressions through my recent work. We’re now in contract for a outpouring 2022 handout for an anthology I’ll be editing announced Nonwhite and Woman: 153 Micro Essays on Being in the World. A call for submissions will go out at the end of January 2021 and I’m certainly lit up about it. Everything about that activity precisely fell into place, and I’ve learned to pay attention to the universe and say yes when a gift is being given.
Great programmes and enormous scribes are happening all around us, and it’s exciting when you get tapped into that.
Will you go back to your traditional publishers?
I have every intention of having my next fiction publicize commercially with a traditional publisher — I don’t judge those periods are over for me at all. Check back with me in a few years on this, LOL.
Tell me about your experiences with those traditional publishers–and you’ve worked with the big one and big ones. Fulfilling?
I love every know-how I’ve had with my US traditional publishers, my foreign publishers, my indie and regional publishers, my own press. I’ve plucked my hair out over all of them, too, for different reasons.
Here’s the bottom line: initiating slog, and then getting it out into the world, is hard. It takes time. The authorities have frustrations. When you are sharing your work with the world, you’re going to have to manage expectations, miscommunications, regrets, achievers. It’s the writer’s life.
There are things about working with a large house that are great, and also not enormous, and same with smaller mansions. I know authors who have had wonderful and painful knows with the same writers or publishers, so a lot of it hinges on personality, bond, day. This is what I places great importance on now: creating good and clear communication with people who have an interest in a project I am elicited about. I adore that parties still want bibles — every kind of bibles — in the world.
I think writers, myself included, make themselves and its own experience a little too seriously, and that can cause a lot of stress. I, for one, wishes to less stress in my life. So abiding flexible creatively, and knowing when to say yes( or no ), is how I’m do that.
You’ve had various literary agents. Can you share any of the fib behind that? I know numerous columnists are afraid of leaving their agent for dread they are able to never find or have another.
I have had three New York literary agents for different designations, so it’s a bit like being married three times, and divorced, with adolescents you’ll have with that agent forever. Let me start by saying that they are all truly excellent operators, wonderful and enormously successful in their own right, and I would recommend them in a heartbeat to columnists where this is a fit.
I was trying to figure out what I needed in those difficult years. I’m not sure I would have changed anything, but I can see in the multiverse how it might have worked out differently in every occasion. I accept, extremely, that they might have a very different perspective of what the hell happened or why things ended.
My first operator was the first one who said yes. She sold my first book and I will be forever grateful for that. But I felt like we had a basic communication issue, and would hang up after a discussion not sure about what we had talked about or what was supposed to happen next. We weren’t aligned in certain fundamental routes at that time, so I objective our agent-client relationship and after a few months, used to go again. This time I find an worker I genuinely combined with, and she sold two works for me but a few things came plunged to those used titles because she was in transition and it was impacting her ability to support me. So that ended.
I was definitely depressed because now I was feeling like Ross from Friends. I had columnist friends with amazing forever workers whom they ligament with in ways that were unfathomable to me–I certainly felt like it was me, and that I was at risk by pointing each tie-in without ever knowing if I could ever get represented again.
I wrote another notebook and found another agent, this one from another gargantuan busines who terminated up selling that volume at auction. And that was a kind of bucket list moment. She was a terrific balance of friendly and professional, and I would have adoration to keep working with her. But the book didn’t perform( industry speak for falling short of apprehensions ), and she had told me that might happen when we were in auction, and that it would be really hard to sell me again.
I didn’t have another big volume sentiment at the time, and my contract had been about representing that designation rather than me as an scribe in general, so such relationships fizzled out. That’s when I attracted away from everything and did a few cases things on my own, and while it wasn’t great, it wasn’t awful, either. I was learning how to be a better author under difficult circumstances. I stopped pushing myself are progressing. Then I earned a Hawaii Book Publishers’ award for one notebook, and then a few years later a PSA award for a verse chapbook. I received a grant and fellowship.
Why did you go back for your MFA–at 50?
I employed that time to push myself as a scribe and advantage new sciences, even though I was already well published by most rules. A fortune of people told us to me, “What are you doing here? ” or “Why do you need this? ” All I has actually say was, “I have more to learn.” It was a humbling suffer, and I’d already felt kicked down more than once, so in a way I felt like a bit of a los that I would need to start over again, but in the end, it hoisted me up to a brand-new level of creativity.
I’m taking a holistic approach to my occupation. I’m now a writer who writes story , nonfiction, inventive nonfiction/ memoir/ papers, and style. I’ve been recognized in all these genres. And now I’m the series journalist and co-founder of a micro memoir writing and hybrid publicizing program.
I also ceased up with a meat blog as a consequence of one of my notebooks, and that blog subsidized my family during the pandemic when my husband was furloughed, which is another example of standing open to innovative openings. That blog, Friendship Bread Kitchen, ought to be my pulpit for one of my romances but it morphed into something else, and I followed it.
That is one reason why I still get to write — and it paid for grad school as well — without having to go back to the corporate life I left more than 20 several years ago. I’m at a region where I feel like life as asking me to have faith in myself, my job, and my artistic process, and to pay attention, given attention, given attention. That’s my mantra whenever the distres threatens to come back, which it does pretty much every morning. But it’s more like that auntie who has a laundry list of ailments and disorders — you desire her, you listen and gestured, but you take it all in stride.
Thank you, Darien.
Read more: janefriedman.com