the ch!cktionary

I'm Lena Chen, a writer, activist, and media producer who's been called a "skank" (by Bill O'Reilly) and "a small Asian woman" (by The New York Times). My favorite part of my workday is the hate mail.

For the unlikely story that is my life, read on.

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irregular features
Ask Lena: Reader Questions Answered
Anatomy of an Outfit
Bad Feminist Confessions
Freelance Friday: Career Advice for Young Writers
Hate Mail
Gratuitous Photos Of My Bulldog
Notes & Snapshots from Abroad
Recent Tweets @lenachen

Two months of not being on email has made me realize how little I need email. If you need me, call, text, or if you must, resort to Facebook. My auto-responder will be on until the end of the year.

I’m in no state to be working on my book right now, so I’m refocusing my energy on projects that have fallen by the wayside and reconsidering some ideas that I had filed away in case of a creative drought. Some examples of things I have on the list for next week:

  1. Finish an article on the Affordable Care Act, the first assignment I’ve taken in ages (since I desperately need to write something, really anything, unrelated to the book)
  2. Watch at least one movie (promised a friend I’d see Conversations With Other Women, also would like to rewatch Mysterious Skin)
  3. Retype some more of The Bell Jar, which I need to reread for research purposes anyway
  4. Catch up on contracts, forms, mail all that boring life stuff I’ve just ignored
  5. Make a dent in my two-foot tall clothing pile

I really wanted to have a draft of this book done by now, and in fact, it’s been almost exactly a year since I decided to turn what had previously been an idea for a memoir into a fictional novel project. It’s become a much larger, more artistically challenging undertaking as a result, but I also think I’m a better writer and a better person because of it. I continue to be extremely grateful that I didn’t write a memoir or sell the movie option to my blog at age 20 when I lacked both business sense and a sense of self. On the other hand, I’m not able to just take off to the woods (or even to my mother’s house) for an uninterrupted six months of writing - I have a boyfriend and a dog and roommates and, well, people beyond myself to think about. And that’s a really hard position to be in when I’ve been literally trying for years to write this story and don’t feel like I can move on - emotionally or otherwise - until I get this out and get out of Boston.

In other news, I am doing an informal farewell tour that involves eating everything that I won’t be able to eat in Berlin. (Fish tacos are on the top of my list.) I’m trying to fit in a DC trip in December, spending January in California to visit friends and family, speaking at an event in New York at the end of January, and packing up my life in February. I’ll be out of the country by the first week of March.

This has been such an emotionally and physically exhausting year that I need more than a vacation from life. I need a new life, and I need 2012 to be over. I mean that in the least apocalyptic sense possible.