At the start of “Miss the Zen, but Miss You More” it’s clear that something unexpected is going to happen. Bei Bei continuing on her self-indulgent way would not be much of a story. But you surprised me with the direction this took! How did the story come together? Did you know the ending when you started?
I hope the ending is surprising in a good way! I didn’t quite know the ending but it became very clear where it should be fairly quickly. I wanted to really play up the tension between a sort of helpless self-indulgence and an intense desire to be better, and somehow it metastasized into something really scary (I hope).
Oh yes, it was a perfect ending. I’ve been thinking about it for days. Is there anything you want readers to know about this story that they might not have noticed?
I think Bei Bei is someone who would be easy to judge, but I really want readers to think very deeply about whether they are really any different.
What is your usual process for writing a short story? Did this one give you any surprises?
Oh man. I’m sort of a psycho. I’m a pretty fast writer, but I just mull it around in my mind for so long. I need to know a lot of a story before I really start writing—although that may be my own self-indulgence come to play here. But this story came out more complete than most stories, I think it was because I was in a really similar place to Bei Bei in my life. That sort of diagnosis that something isn’t right, but unable to really grapple with why something is wrong and what to do to change it, and a knowledge that you have to do something, even if it’s terribly silly.
What have you been working on lately? Anything forthcoming that our readers should know about?
I’m editing a short story right now that is almost there but not quite. I tend to write stories about women who are so sad and loathe themselves but really can’t stop trying, and I think this is . . . a fairly unique take. And I’m in the very long mulling stage of a novel I want to try, though I think it may be out of my skill level right now as a writer. Isn’t that the worst feeling?
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