Monday, June 18, 2012

Just a boy...

"Marija, you were acting in NYC and you were a broadcast journalist, what is wrong with you?!" is what I was thinking just before I got up in front of that mic yesterday afternoon at The Writer's Center in Bethesda. I was nervous and I should not have been. My story was good, I knew that, I practised reading it out loud, and had 11 friends and a teacher in the audience supporting me.
But I was still nervous, so nervous that I was a little short of breath when I began reading. But then, I relaxed soon after.
I was worried that people won't understand every word I say since I speak English with a Slavic accent. And they needed to understand every word of a six-minute excerpt. Every word was precious, there was nothing to cut off. Believe me, I cut off everything that I could in order to tell my story.
But I didn't tell the whole story.
I was cut off almost at the end.
So, after the readings ended, people I don't know came to me and told me they wanted to know how my story ended. And that they liked it.
I remembered, even in front of a camera, or on the stage, I have always been nervous. But I have never, not once, screwed up.
I actually was told in grad school that I looked the most comfortable as a TV anchor. Huh. True story.
In sum, the reading went smoothly, people loved my story and enjoyed my "actor's" presentation. Oh I played that baby up, inflections, different voices, moods...
So I'm extremely satisfied how everything played out.
My teacher was too, saying "you have no competition in the room," just before she left. And "has this story been published?"
We're talking about my new story here,"Just a boy," It's a story about a little girl, a Croatian little girl, whose mother left her for another man, and her father died in World War II. The story is about the night when her father comes back home after three years and finds out that his wife was impregnated by another man before she left.
Pretty heavy stuff, I know, but all my stories are like that. Well, almost all. I have a few light ones, just to mix it up.
So, this morning when I got up, everything was back to normal. I need to work on my book. I need to work on my query letter. And I need my latte. Quiet, rainy morning, after a loud, fun day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Provocative and scandalous

A writer I took "Reading and Writing short stories" course in September with, asked me last week if I wanted to read at her reading. She said she liked my writing. We haven't been in touch for at least seven months, and just out of the blue, she drops an e-mail saying something like, "I really liked your work and I was hoping you would read..."
I was flattered to say at the least.
And I of course jumped at the opportunity.
I actually had a trip to Philly planned for that (next) weekend, train tickets, hotel booked. So I picked up my phone and moved everything for two weeks down the road.
When I told our mutual teacher that this writer invited me to read with her, she said, she was "pleased and hoped that we would stay in touch."
What can i say except I've been feeling pretty good with myself as a fiction writer ever since. Have I mentioned that this other writer is truly very talented? She won some scholarship I'm thinking about applying for now.
All this, and the fact that tomorrow (probably) or any day after that I have two stories coming out in two magazines, makes this a pretty great week. One in NYC, one in LA. Huh!
So, my reading is on Sunday. I am very excited and just a tiny bit nervous, but mostly can't wait. You see, I used to be a broadcast journalist and actor, so I'm used to the spotlight. And, honestly, I like it.
As far as my book goes, I'm almost at the point where I'm ready to send it out again, but this time it is way better, much, much improved from the first, "impatient" version. It's actually over 70 percent rewritten completely.
Part of me wants to do it today, part of me wants to wait another few months.
And as far as the Sunday reading goes, I still haven't decided which story to read. I'm leaning toward one, but it's hard. I cannot be objective about my writing. But I will definitely pick one that I have work shopped and got good ratings on.
So stay tuned. My "Does Ana have a reason to sleep so beautifully" and "Broken Mirror" will be looking for their readers soon. And I promise, they are both provocative, scandalous. No PG 13 here...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Zoran Djindjic, rolling in his grave

A few days ago, I glanced at a list of Toma Nikolic's (new Serbian president) advisers and advisers to be. And I got an instant headache.
After reading a distinguished list--a former mob lawyer, a Dean of an University involved in repression against anti-Milosevic students (i.e. moi) and faculty, more recently accused of accepting bribes, a Nikolic's family member, a police general close to Milosevic, Milosevic's wife Mirjana's book editor, and another former member of Mira Markovic's JUL party, who stole Serbian parliamentary elections for Milosevic--I thought two things.
First, it must be a Saturday Night Live skid. It must be!
Second, Zoran Djindjic must be rolling in his grave.
Between this government that mocks the hell out of everything that OTPOR, and students, and people fought for and suffered through, and sends Serbia straight back to the 90s, or the hell, and the fact that Boris Tadic (former Serbian president, a prime minister to be) refuses to step down even though he LOST the elections, fair and square, I think that if there is life after death, Djindjic probably wishes there wasn't.

All I can add is that if I weren't attached at hip to Serbia, I would be laughing too...