Discover more from learning to interrupt.
thoughts on tiktok, romanticizing your life, my new book, and what I've been reading lately.
I joined TikTok recently, despite thinking I am too old to do so, and found myself on some part of the algorithm where women make luxurious, overflowing pumpkin cold foam iced coffees and film themselves going on walks to pick up flowers. While some of it is certainly performative, there’s an embedded message of ‘romanticize your life’ which does appeal to me. A writer (I can’t remember who and don’t want to misquote) mentioned that once they realized life was lived in the moments between big events, they enjoyed their life significantly more, and I think that’s kind of the same sentiment.
Looking back on this summer, I didn’t read or write as much as I’d planned to, but I went to London and Edinburgh and did a book tour and went to shows and gallery openings and spent time with people and dipped my toes into the water in different places. I was also diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease and struggled with adjusting my diet and expectations and just generally living with an autoimmune condition. I spent much of the summer trying to find little ways to enjoy my day-to-day life, the time in between the bigger things: mastering gluten & soy free recipes, reading a short story from a favorite collection over breakfast, going on my daily walk, buying little things for the apartment that make me feel cozy.
Now, on the precipice of autumn, I feel like a different person has crawled out of me and is ready to excavate a working writer’s life once more.
Which is good because my short story collection, Assemblage, is releasing on November 11th — time flies! I have a book cover, and blurbs, and we’re throwing a little reading showcase party with some local authors in Berkeley. Assemblage is a bit different for me because the stories are speculative, some I would even refer to as ‘horror lite,’ certainly a divergence from The Drowned Woman. Also, after some discussion in our writer’s group Discord about author merch, I’ve decided to create some of my own for Assemblage, which has been a surprisingly delightful experience — details to come.
I have been reading more this month, and I am planning to take part in Jessica’s Tiny Book Challenge via Instagram — the goal being to read as many tiny books (qualifying books must be 100-150 pages) as possible in one week (Sept 25 - Oct 2). As you probably know by now, I both love to read and write tiny books, so I am excited.
On our recent trip to Texas, I read The Pink Hotel by Liska Jacobs — an author who just keeps surprising me with every new novel she puts out. Her writing is steeped in place, Catalina particularly stuck with me and I still remember the taut moments of Elsa’s sailing trip, confined to a tight place. Similarly, The Pink Hotel takes place in one location. The guests and employees are hemmed in by wildfires raging in Los Angeles, but refuge can be found in the cool rooms and lush gardens therein.
“Best to enjoy yourself before the apocalypse. Haven’t you heard, the whole world is burning.”
I kept thinking, ‘this is White Lotus meets Eve Babitz.’ And, while I didn’t care for White Lotus, I love the concept of the hotel being a central character in the story. Jacobs takes the co-mingling between employees and guests to new heights when she ushers the newly married Kit and Keith into the hotel’s maw. The hotel, chosen strategically by Keith who hopes to vie for a manager-in-training position, is more opulent than they are accustomed to, but they soon begin to adjust, to contort, to the hierarchy established by a wild cast of side characters.
The Pink Hotel is a darkly biting social satire about wealth, class, social station, marriage, and what one accepts vs what they deserve. As the fires burn ever closer to the hotel’s gilded borders, the heat encourages both mirage and madness among both the elite inhabitants and the hospitality staff. It's absolute chaos, and I loved it. I also feel like you can tell it was a novel born of the pandemic, but in a non-obvious way.
Don’t forget to celebrate the autumnal solstice on Sept. 22nd — it’s finally time to say farewell to summer and start romanticizing autumn!