January 23, 2012

About myself ...

The creators of the Trifecta Writing Challenge have recently gotten all nosy. They've asked those rising to the challenges to answer a few personal questions. Here are my replies:

What is your name?
My name is Karen Marie.

I have had several family names:
my male lineage name, which I've written under although it was never mine. Seller.
my family name, from a man I never knew, a man who adopted my father but abandoned my grandmother before I was born. Cox.
my married name, to demonstrate that I am the property of a man. Tsang.

To further this ambivalence: My husband's father was adopted out of his family into another as a young child in Southern China. This means my current last name does not represent my husband's bloodline either. The story is much longer and quite interesting -- it involves the Canadian Exclusion Act (so I blame Canada).

On a more personal level, the adoptive father was never really in his son's life and his adoptive mother, a woman I once lived with, had her own family's name.

I used to think I'd change my name to represent my father's bloodline. I would do without a last name entirely if I thought it was worth the trouble. I mean, I get how it categorises families and all, but it is an archaic system that honours the male lineage alone. So please, even though I love my husband deeply, don't call me Mrs. A. Tsang if you want to hang with me. It's just rude.

Describe your writing style in three words.
Intense. Odd. Pedantic.

How long have you been writing online?
Since 1994 in one form or another, unless you count playing text-based Dungeons and Dragons in the late 1970s, and penning internal "email" and posting on message boards when I worked at Apple in the early 1990s.

Which, if any, other writing challenges do you participate in?
I was writing for the 100 Word Challenge for a while last year. I really enjoyed it because I love to edit (more than I love to write), and reducing (or expanding) an idea to a precise word count pleases me to no end. But I have not done the challenge in quite some time because it is difficult to find the time to do it well. I want to get back to it again.

Describe one way in which you could improve your writing.
I think I need to write more, to flush out some of my ideas by pouring more stuff out, whether I publish it or not.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
An improv coach once told me to write often, write everyday, write for an hour a day without thinking about what you are writing. I do not follow the third, yet, but I hear his voice a lot when I write. RIP, Andrew.

Who is your favorite author?
I really love Ann Marie MacDonald (Fall on Your Knees), but my favourite writer of all times has to be Margaret Atwood. Because I am in awe of her mastery and exactitude. Even when she's boring, she's dead on.

How do you make time to write?
I take it out of my sleep bank. I don't do other things in the day that I should be doing. I don't take enough time to write. I don't know how to do that.

Give us one word we should consider using as a prompt.

Direct us to one blog post of yours that we shouldn't miss reading.
The Resonance of my Bully. Be sure to read the comments. Sadly, it didn't end well.


  1. I just downloaded Cat's Eye on your rec. And, Karen, somehow I never read that post. I am blown away. I wish it had ended there.

    1. I cannot guarantee that you will like any one particular book of hers. I barely remember some of them and she can be quite dry. *giving you knowing look*.

      But her work is better internalised, better researched, and more true than any other writer I've ever read. See the Penelopiad if you ever have the chance. But first, read ... The Illiad ... i think?

  2. The Marie Club! (Only problem is we have to invite my mom. . .)

    I think your family name is an interesting story. You should write it.

    I also like the idea of a "bank." I saw that one visually. I saw myself sticking my hand in the sleep bank and the kid bank and a thousand other banks to fill a thousand more up. It's tiring.

    Thanks for participating. Happy to have you as a Trifectan.

    1. We can absolutely invite your mom, no matter how you feel about her. This is not a club for the cool, only for those who sport the name Marie. It was decided by one of my younger nieces at some point of realisation that there exist so many of us (in our family). It turns out young nieces are purists like that.

      Please let your mom know that she, too, belongs to the Marie club.

  3. Pedantic. Twice. Intriguing. Will be back.

    1. Thanks Kim. I had to use the word Pedant in a play. It forced me to look it up. I have been known to be one.

      But now I'm wondering ... is there even a third def'n?! I may be pedantic, but not particularly thorough.

  4. There is a third definition! We promise to use your word if you promise to come back and write. :-)