In chapter 53 of the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament, the text describes an individual who is “despised and rejected of men,” who has “borne our sorrows,” who has “no form nor comeliness…that we should desire him,” and so forth. The Christians (Mormons included) interpret these verses to be prophecies of Christ and his mission, while most Jewish scholars recognize the individual mentioned as a stand-in for the House of Israel. Either way, these verses are known as the “Fourth Song of the Suffering Servant,” the other three songs occurring in the preceding chapters of Isaiah. The “Suffering Servant” endures abuse and mistreatment, sometimes even unto death, and because of his suffering, redeems his people as a whole.
The Hmong people have their own “Suffering Servant”: The Orphan. In Hmong media, the orphan is front and center. The orphan’s plight is one of the primary motifs running through Hmong folktales, novels, stories, sung poetry (kwv txhiaj), and movies. Like the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah, the Hmong Orphan can be viewed both as an individual, Christ-like figure and as a representation of the Hmong people and how they view their situation in the world.
Here I am at the end of another year. I have been in this position many times, looking back over the past twelve months, wondering where the time went and whether I had accomplished anything as a writer, only to find the fruits of my labors in scrap piles and aborted notebooks instead of before the world. But this year something happened. I started a blog, participated in the Mormon Lit Blitz and placed among the semi-finalists, published my Hmong-themed short story “Cocked” as an ebook, saw my short story “Moving On” published by Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought, and finished a very rough draft of my wife’s memoir that I’m helping her write for my National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) entry. I look forward to the new year. I hope to continue pursuing my goals as a writer of fiction that explores the human condition. Continue reading “Looking Backward and Forward”
Take advantage of discounted prices on my unique short story, “Cocked,” about a young Hmong woman who escapes the cultural roles she was expected to play.
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From midnightAugust 1 to 11:59 a.m.August 4, “Cocked” will be on sale at the heavily discounted price of $0.99!
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Photo credit: “Whites and Reds,” Anil Kumar B Bhatt, Flickr
It’s been a while since I posted last. April was a tough month for writing and blogging. I’m getting back to it now. So here’s an update on what’s been happening in my writing and reading life:
Published Cocked in April. It’s my unique Hmong-themed story about a nameless Hmong woman who escapes the roles her culture defines for her to play. Buy it for your Kindle today.
I’m working on some pieces for the Mormon Lit Blitz happening this month. One piece well-drafted, which may make it into No Sacred Grove. Another in the works. We’ll see how many I think I can submit. It’s harder than I thought to keep a story to 1,000 words. Writer’s angst!
I’m trying to catch up on works by contemporary and past writers of Mormon Literature. You can view what I’m currently reading in my Goodreads list at the bottom-right of this page.
Well, that’s it for now. I’ll try to get back to blogging about some great topics here in the near future.
My short story “Cocked” is now available for purchase and download to your Kindle or Kindle App on Amazon.
It’s probably a thirty minute or so read, but I think it’s a one-of-a-kind story. Here’s the blurb:
How far would you go to defy cultural norms?
Each year on the 15th of May, a nameless Hmong woman rewrites the account of how she escaped the cultural roles she was expected to play. Each year the account becomes more true.
I have worked on this story for several years now, off and on. I tried to get one form or the other of it published in the traditional outlets, but to no avail. Don’t let that dissuade you from purchasing it, though. After implementing some great feedback from several beta-readers, I am pleased with the current version.
The inspiration for this story came from a Hmong folktale called “The Woodcutter, His Cock, and His Wife,” about a wife who defends her husband’s beating her. The folktale is retold in my story by the nameless Hmong woman, so I won’t repeat it here, but the “moral” is that a “good wife” should cover her husband’s sins.
While I agree that is a good principle in thebroadest possible general theory, I believe that some sins or criminal acts must come to light, or be escaped from. My nameless Hmong woman certainly thinks so.
I want to thank my wife, Shoua, for encouraging me to write stories that engage issues in the Hmong community. I also want to thank Stacy Beatty for the wonderful cover design.
I hope it’s as thought-provoking a story for you as it has been for me. Enjoy!