All posts filed under: Reflection

Living Under the Threat of Alzheimer’s as a Writer

I’m going to disappear one day. Both sides of my family have Alzheimer’s, so I’m sure I have the gene too. When I can’t find my keys, I think early onset Alzheimer’s. When I can’t remember why I’m at the grocery store, I think about how the youngest person who has ever been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s was twenty-seven. I’m thirty-two. Some people write because they have something to say. Others write for fun. I write because I’m afraid I’m going to disappear, because who am I if I’m not the stories in my head? Who am I if I’m not the words I use to tell those stories? When I’m sixty-five and I can’t remember my own name, will I still be me? I remember being afraid of family dinners with Yeh-Yeh, because he was loud and scary and had no idea who any of us were. I was told he had Alzeimer’s, but to a ten-year-old, Alzeimer’s was like having the chicken pox. Sure, it sucked, but eventually you’d recover, wouldn’t you? I remember …

Mike Myers on Creativity & Perseverance

At the 2014 Savannah Film Festival, Mike Myers sat down with SCAD’s President, Paula Wallace, for a candid conversation. After watching a two-minute clip of the interview, I found myself transcribing some of the things Myers said, particularly the portions on creativity and perseverance. On natural talent: “As I’m getting older, I don’t quite know what natural talent means except a willingness to study and persevere in the face of rejection.” On rejection: “Don’t give up. NASA has a fantastic expression which is: There’s no failure, only early attempts at success. You know, there’s a lot of rejection. The rejection should inform you and not define you. The reward of doing this work is the creativity itself. I make something every day. I don’t show it to everybody but I make something.” On the joy of creativity: “If you focus on result, you’ll always be heartbroken. If you focus on product, you’ll sometimes be heartbroken. If you focus on process, you’ll never be heartbroken because that’s the joy.” Extremely timely advice. To me, writing can be …

To the Owner Who Lost Her Dog Today

I’m not a doctor, but I can tell. Sometimes, the animal is already dead. Sometimes, they’re dying. I rush him to the back all the same, because I’m not a doctor. Maybe I’m wrong. I wait up front with you. You ask me: Will he be okay? And I lie. It feels like a lie. I tell you I don’t know. I can’t tell. The doctor is working on him right now. I emphasize that last one because if the doctor is working on him, then maybe he really will be okay. My job is to keep you calm until you fill out the required forms. My job is to listen so you can tell me all the things you think the doctor needs to know. I help you clean the blood from your hands. Get you a cup of water. Then the doctor buzzes up front, and you look at me when I call your name. It’s too soon. You know what the doctor’s going to say, but you ask me: Is he okay? …

A New Year’s Reflection on Five Years Worth of Writing

I’ve been writing regularly for five years. And in those five years, I have written the following: Three fanfic pieces (10K to 20K words each) Two novel-length manuscripts (150K words) Six novellas (15k to 30k words each) Hundreds of blog posts, short stories, personal essays spread throughout various websites It might not seem like a lot, but prior to those five years, I only wrote about 100k words in the span of ten or fifteen years. Creatively, that is. I’m not including papers for school or reports for work. I wish I hadn’t stopped. If I’d been writing for all those missing years, my writing would’ve been on a whole other level today. But then again, I’m not sure if I really had anything meaningful to say back then. Time goes by so fast. I was a different person five years ago. Different priorities. Different dreams. It’s the end of 2014 (at least it was when I was writing this), and nostalgia has been keeping me up at night. Also, a really bad cold. (I’m surrounded …

In Which I Finally Understand Bruce Lee and Discover What “Being Like Water” Means to my Writing

My birthday is coming up. This one feels like a milestone even though it’s not. I’m not turning thirty—I passed that a while ago—but I think my heart’s finally catching up to my age. It’s a good feeling, because I think I finally understand what Bruce Lee was talking about. “Be like water,” he said. “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow.” When I first heard that quote, I was in my twenties. “Ridiculous,” I said. “Water’s weak. It’s shapeless. It dilutes.” I wanted to be like fire: vibrant, painful, all-consuming. The passion of my youth was like a roaring bonfire. I graduated from a program that I’d fought so hard to get into and got a job everyone told me would be near impossible to get. I binged on life so hard that I never had to deal with the repercussions of taking whatever I wanted whenever I needed it. I was a winner, because I had to be. Part of that was to make …

A Life in Pursuit of Hikaru’s Go and Jiro’s Sushi

A manga turned anime, HIKARU NO GO was released almost a decade ago. It’s a coming-of-age story and a story about devoting one’s life to a singular passion. When Hikaru discovers an old go board in his grandfather’s attic, he accidentally awakens a ghost named Sai, a go player who lived during the Heian era of Japan. All Sai wants to do is study go, and Hikaru reluctantly plays a few games to appease the friendly spirit. But when the young boy’s lack of interest soon turns to enthusiasm, Sai is surprised to learn that Hikaru displays an innate talent for the game. The heart of the story lies in their master-student relationship. The most poignant scenes happen after Sai begins to see that in Hikaru lies the path to achieve the divine move—a move so perfect and inspired that it is considered the pinnacle achievement of every go master. Sai’s quest for Kami no Itte, or the Hand of God, is the reason why his soul has been unable to rest. Sai never reaches the divine move, and …

Stories that Matter

My Facebook life has to be perfect, because if my story didn’t exist online, I’d disappear. Having no likes on a post is like me standing at the edge of a cliff, shouting into an abyss but not hearing an echo. I wait and wait and then I start to wonder if maybe it’s not the echo that’s the problem, it’s my voice. Because what if I think I hear my voice, but really the sound just never existed in the first place? Maybe my mouth is a figment of my imagination or a tumor in someone’s brain. School taught me to dress for the job I want, so I dress my profile for the life I want. We’re all made up of stories anyway, so somewhere along the way I decided to write my own except I somehow ended up writing shitty fanfic about people who aren’t me. In anime, characters with the loudest hair matter the most. Maybe that’s why I color my hair so often. My profile is starting to remind me of …

On Ego

The more I give up my ego, the stronger writer I become. Sometimes I feel like the world and its many personalities distract me from the meaningful. When I worry I’m not good enough, I start writing for the wrong reasons. To put it another way, I shouldn’t write to be heard; I should write because I have something to say. For the last two years, I’ve been thinking a lot about nothingness: no good or bad, no right or wrong, no incorrect or correct, no ego. This concept of void ended up being a predominant theme in my manuscript, but I still struggle to achieve this state of zero. Strip away our cities, our walls, our rules, our senses, ourselves. Strip enough away and nothing remains. Like a post-apocalyptic world… “Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world.”—from The Road by Cormac McCarthy I don’t know why that quote has stuck with me for so long. Maybe it hits a little …