where the writers are
After 13 years!
Foo doesn't explode, he flies

This is a blog entry I write to myself to mark a celebration.

I am drawing my very last page of "Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale," a memoir in graphic (comics) format.  I've buried my great grandfather, I've taken the ashes of my grandparents to holy Wutain Mountain, I've made my father cry in remembering.  It's taken me 13 years to reach this point.  It has been a long struggle with agents, baskets of gloom, loads of exasperation, when I have passed out on my bed to sleep off the disappointment of another regjection.  And now the internal fanfare of joy.  It's been well worth all the heartache, the reams of typewritten pages, the 250 pages of Bristol board, drawn in black gouache and pencil.

When this book is published next year by WW Norton and Company, I'll have turned 50.  I began the as a young woman of 36.  The hair on my right temple is frosted white with memories, and I am so very grateful for life and this journey of creation.  (I can't wait to begin another memoir in graphic format this fall.)

In the next month, I will go back through the entire book and make corrections or add details.  Then my editor and the art directors will work with me to insert corrected texts.

But this evening, this very evening will be the meditative mopping of my long-neglected kitchen floor, even as the seraphs gavotte above my head and point out the specks of dirt.


Belle Yang's Youtube videos of this graphic novel, "Forge Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale," and other works




17 Comment count
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I raise a virtual glass to you Belle

I wondered how you were getting on with your novel. The end of such a long journey that crosses generations for you and the beginning of a voyage of discovery for all the people who will read your book. Are there words that can truly describe how that must feel? I personally wouldn't know as I am neither an artist or a writer and I certainly would not even try to guess how you feel.

I will just say that I can't wait to read your novel when it is published.

I hope you enjoy your meditation his evening. :)

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I'm done my meditation-mopping the kitchen, the dining room and the bathroom floors.  I feel I have a halo hovering over my head.  Tomorrow I go for a walk with a friend who is also an artist.  I've been looking for a woman friend who can sketch outdoors with me.  Hope this is the one.  Now for a shower and if I am still feeling very energetic, I will paint.

Hey, Ryoma, maybe you could adopt me to be your long lost elder sister from Kyushu.  People would believe us.  Gina would have a sister-in-law.  Hee hee.

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What a wonderful suggestion!

Does this mean I should call you jie jieh? I looked up the term 'elder sister' in Chinese and this is what I found.

I think it sounds much nicer than the Japanese term 'onesan'. I always thought the 'ne' part of the word sounded like I was saying the beginning of the taunt 'na nah na nah naaah', except with an 'e' instead. LOL!

Did you have enough energy to paint? I hope you have enjoyed your walk by the time you read this. :)

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Congratulations, Belle!

Congratulations, Belle! This is an achievement for all the generations involved.

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Ellen, Thank you

Your words mean a great deal to me.

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The physical and the metaphysical


From personal experience as a poet, I consider myself living in two distinct worlds. One is the indefinable, deliciously unpredictable, boundless and utterly incorporeal realm of creating, creating new language, new poems, new constructs and verbal flights of fancy.
The other one is the physical reality in which I am ever so root-bound: feeding myself, taking care of chores (such as your example of mopping the kitchen floor) and conducting the routine day-to-day business of maintaining my bodily existence.

After 20 years of maturity as a poet and nearly 60 years of experience as a human being I have, by necessity, become accustomed to living with this duality.
However, there is no question as to which realm I most like to inhabit (to the neglect of the other), and that is my "meta"-physical world. This is the one that defines me, gives me spiritual sustenance and emotional satisfaction.

Somehow, these bi-polar aspects, that make up the sum of who I am, never overlap for me. I am either in one state or the other.
Therefore, I admire your ability to do some "meditative mopping" (smile).

Mop on.


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Ryoma Collia-Suzuki heard me complain about house cleaning, and he said he enjoyed it as as form of meditation. I tried it all last week, and it worked. Instead of kung-fu fighting with the furniture, I took time to wipe down each piece and the little knick knacks sitting on them as if they were the most interesting items in the world, that the dust were the ashes of my ancestors and other dead people. It worked. Somehow, I've managed to do all the rooms and now the kitchen without any rancour and the sense that I had wasted valuable time.

AND my body feels good, all the bending and search for dust bunnie. I don't ever want someone else to clean my house, because I don't think others should do what I hate to do. Also hiring a house keeper seems to demean the other person, unAmerican, undemocratic. I may be wrong on this last point. Perhaps hiring someone means providing employment. I also hate to have a stranger in the house.

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dust to ashes, ashes to dust


It sounds like a wonderful exercise to imbue the menial with the inspirational. I am glad this works for you and for your friend Ryoma Collia-Suzuki.
As for me, when I scrub on that red stain in my carpet, left by spilling of my fourth glass of an especially fine merlot I imbibed recently, all I can really focus on is which cleaning products to apply to make this ugly spot go away.
Sorry to say, there is nothing spiritual about this task.
But, per your report, dust bunnies are apparently much more conducive to meditation than are red wine stains. I'll certainly give it a try...


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Can't wait to see the complete final version!

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Thank you,

Steven :)

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Belle, what a journey! What a catharsis for you and your parents! Putting everything in its due place. Creating harmony out of chaos. Leaving a testament. Only genius can stick at something that long.
I'm still reeling from the fact of all those rejections.

Looking forward to the book's appearance.

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Well, I had to pay my dues at some point

My first 2 adult books were accepted by agent and publisher in rather short order, but this 3rd!  My, my, my.  This third was accepted in this new format in fall of 2007, but it did take me nearly 13 years to write and execute in comics format.

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go little book go

thanks for sharing!

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Vroom.  Thanks, Matthew.  The same to your "Big Sid's Vicanti."

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joy to you, belle!

Congrats on reaching this milestone, Belle! You inspire me to keep plugging away at my own project. : )

I so look forward to holding *Forget Sorrow* in my own hands... Meanwhile, I will pause with you to take joy in this moment of reflection on the past.


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Hey, Evie

Keep working on whatever makes your heart purr!  RR has been such a good place for me.  Your discussion about domestic violence gave me my next subject for a graphic memoir.  Talking to Gina and Ryoma Collia-Suzuki online, I found a more pleasant channel to tell the dark tale through comedy rather than a painful, retelling of crimes done to me by a Barbe Bleu.

Thank you so much, and love to you.

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i like that

I'm glad to hear this update on your next project. I think a humorous approach will make it easier for you to write and enable more readers to muster the courage to go down that dark path with you -- and learn a bit more of what we need to learn as a society about domestic violence.

My heart really is purring right now! Small milestone: I've just finished the rough draft of another chapter of my book! This one's taken *forever,* but I'm done just in time to turn my thoughts fully to a poet whose home town I'll be visiting later this week. I'm ready for the change of pace *and* scenery. : )

Peace and love.