I should warn you: the acknowledgements page in Chasing the Sun is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to write. Not because I found it hard to thank people, but because I found it hard to type straight as I ugly-cried at my laptop, reminiscing about everyone who helped turn this dream into reality. And when I was done writing it, I had to edit the Acknowledgements by, oh…5,000 words or so.
How to keep this list to just 5 people who made this book possible? Instead, I’ll write about 5 people who made this story possible. (See what I did there?)
My husband, because he was smitten by this story when I wasn’t it. Back in 2006, before I tucked away the early, early drafts of Chasing the Sun, my then-boyfriend read and loved it. So much, that when I knew it was time to start a new book in 2011, he insisted I go back to it. “There’s something there,” he kept saying, even though I was convinced there was nothing worth salvaging. “You should go back to it,” he said more than once. Eventually, I did. (Now, when you read my dedication page, you’ll know the story behind what it says.)
My creative writing professor. Sometimes we carry stories inside ourselves that we don’t even recognize. My senior year in college, as I was preparing to write my creative writing thesis, I met with my mentor, M. Evelina Galang, who asked me why my family came to the US. I told her that when I was a child, my grandfather had been kidnapped for ransom in Peru, and began changing the subject as I was used to doing. She did a double-take. I told her it was unfortunately very common at the time. She pointed out it’s not common at all. If not for this conversation, I’m not sure I would’ve had the courage to push aside my hesitations and start writing.
My uncle. In 2003, I traveled to Lima on my own for the first time (previously, I’d always gone with my family). I was 19 and excited to go dancing with my cousins; instead, my uncle took me to a museum exhibit called Yuyanapaq. Para recordar. (It means “To remember,” in Quechua and Spanish). It chronicled the 20 years of violence and internal conflict in Peru from 1980-2000. As we walked through the maze of black and white images, he recalled how the city would experience bombings, blackouts and fires daily, and most strikingly, how people learned to get used to them. This idea of terror vs the need for the human spirit to survive even the darkest times has always stayed with me.
My grandfather. One day when I’ve had time to process my thoughts and feelings, I’ll write more about my father’s father, who passed away a few months ago. For now I try to keep his memory close and somewhat private. But this story would not exist without him.
You. Allow me to get cheesy(er) for a moment here. It’s just that all of last week’s controversy over Jonathan Franzen criticizing writers for being on social media “yakking and tweeting and bragging” got me thinking that he’s right about one thing: this isn’t the world he became a writer in. The world that this writer and today’s writers are navigating would seem much lonelier if not for online friends. Yes, I have IRL friends, but the online writer community has been just as real a support system. Thanks to fellow writers, publishing experts, and authors whom I look up to, I’ve learned essential lessons about camaraderie and craft that I know have helped shape my story.
What about you? Who are the 5 people that helped you achieve your goals?