Publishing feels like a mysterious castle floating above the clouds, especially when you’re not white, you don’t live in New York, don’t have an MFA—or like me, all of the above, plus I don’t even live anywhere near America. An agent feels like an express shuttle who will whisk you past the grand gates of publishing.
Political protest is an act of personal expression. It says: this is me, this is who I am and what I stand for, and you can’t take it away from me.
What was I doing thousands of miles from home, in a place that had no interest in who I was or where I came from? Was it wishful thinking, hoping to find an audience for my work in the US? What I came to realise was that Tin House may mean the world to a writer from Singapore, but a writer from Singapore may not necessarily mean anything at all to Tin House.
How do we live when the sound of dying is everywhere around us? Social media creates the illusion that we are all connected, but our ongoing social isolation makes us feel more disconnected from friends and family than ever before.
I was standing in front of the boarding gate when a message arrived from my AirB&B host in Portland: “We’re sorry but our place is no longer available.” I read the message over and over again. Did my host just cancel my stay? Just the night before, they had been texting me information on how to get to their place from the airport.
It was hard not to panic: I had a twenty hour cross-ocean journey ahead, I had never been to Portland, and less than fifteen minutes to decide if I wanted to get on the plane or arrive in a foreign city without a place to stay.
In this room, in almost the exact same spot where my desk now sits in this photo, lies my earliest childhood memory. I was in kindergarten, around four or five years old, sitting in the wardrobe, wearing a dress I did not want to wear. I remember the soft, warm colour of morning filtering through the curtains, my sister still sleeping in the next bed.
2019, was for me, that year of change. It took me several more months to do something about it, but once I did it was as if a door had opened in my heart and the pieces began to fall into place. I realised I had gotten it all wrong. I was afraid to call myself a writer because for years I had struggled to get anything published, only to realise I was trying to put the cart before the horse.
Crash Landing on You is probably the first South Korean drama ever where:
1)North Korea isn’t the bogeyman
2)North Koreans feature prominently, the roles acted by top South Korean actors
3)North Koreans have rich emotional lives
(me, left, and my older sister)
Growing up, I never thought of myself as ‘pretty’. Pretty was my older sister, who got stopped on the street by modeling scouts and asked out by Eric Cantona when Manchester United visited Singapore. I was the awkward, bookish sister, who wore pink plastic glasses and could hang with the boys, but was never seen as a ‘girl’.