romance author

  • Anna Veriani

This was the year my debut book The Winter Quarters was published. It's been weird and pleasing to have some of my words available for the whole world to read.

However, I proceeded to write hardly any fiction at all for the entirety of 2019. In fact, I went through an unforgiving writer’s block, a kind of existential crisis. I had big questions about what fiction—what books—are even worth in a dying world. For months I was haunted by the idea that no other species on earth can read, and if books are by humans and for humans, then are they necessarily anti-environmental? How can I be a writer when the world is going through a climate crisis?

I am relieved to report back that my 2019 reading was up to the challenge of my spiritual dilemma. I learned so much about the natural world and our relationship to it. I feel determined to write—and write better—in 2020.

You can find my full reading round-up on Queerly. I discuss the books I've read and the very tangible affects they've had on my life.

Happy New Year, everyone! And as always—happy reading!

  • Anna Veriani

I began tweeting a response to this post about elite universities, but my thoughts are too long for Twitter so I'm putting them here:

This is important but a lesson that I think needs to be learned through first-hand experiences (whether from within academia or without). The opposite lesson is too ingrained in us from childhood to be overturned with one well-written post.

From within the school system—through PISA and other standardized exams, college entrance exams, and more—we tell students globally that academic success is the key to everything they want in life—intelligence, self-worth, economic stability, virtuosity, their parents’ love.

We tell students these are not fundamental rights. They must earn them through vigorous work and a whole lot of luck. Most of them will, in fact, be rejected from the institutions that appear to hold their entire futures behind locked doors.

I've seen students plan and attempt suicide because of exam results. Students become recluses (known as hikikomori) because they’re given a tremendously unfair deal in life. Every spring students sob in my office when they are rejected from elite institutions.

Often their dreams are things that can be accomplished at much more open places—they want to become nurses, physical therapists, writers, etc. Yet EVERY student has been told they need (within Japan) Tokyo University to succeed. And few will get there.

What has surprised me most as a teacher is how little intellectual giftedness actually matters at all. I was pretty fresh out of university when I stepped into my own classroom. As a poor kid, I had definitely bought into the elite-university-is-your-only-chance-at-a-future bit. It wasn’t until I became a teacher that I realized how the things I’d thought I had to earn were actually basic human rights.

All of my students deserve to feel valuable. To feel loved, to feel hopeful about the future, to know the ways in which they shine. I realized that if my students deserved those things, then I did, too. I always had—I had just been told otherwise.

When it comes to my students, I care literally not at all whether they’re intellectually gifted. I always felt like my teachers liked me less if I wasn’t good at their class. (I have no idea if that is really true.) Yet I genuinely do not see why I would value the highest-scoring child over anyone else. And I don’t think anyone else has less of a chance at living a worthwhile life or changing the world in a positive way.

Unfortunately, the school system we operate within is outdated, and it’s not intended to teach people that there are myriad ways to live your life. But there are! Elite universities are only one of them. Sometimes I wonder whether they should even exist at all. I guess Harvard’s good for inventing things like napalm. :)

  • Anna Veriani

It is nice to have learned something about myself: I am the kind of author that forgets to update their website. In fact, I hadn't logged on for so long that I forgot what hosting site I use.

But! I'm very happy to announce, as I announced on Twitter in a much more timely manner, that Alisha was randomly selected as the winner of my pre-order giveaway! (She gave me permission to share her Twitter, @bethandnoah.) It was incredibly fun to make a giveaway box full of local goodies. I revisited some of my favorite stores, such as Shirai (しら井), a traditional konbuya or seaweed shop; I also went to to my favorite wagashi (confectionery) shops, and a local craftsman who makes hand-designed postcards and wooden artwork.

It was a lovely way to celebrate the release of The Winter Quarters. For now, I'm hoping for a restful winter — ideally a properly cold, snowy season like the one in the book. I'd love a reason to stay inside to devote serious time to writing.

Until next time (and who knows when that will be), cheers to book releases, changing seasons, and local sweets. <3