I wanted to change gears for this one time. I know most of you don’t know who I am. I thought it would be interesting to give some background on myself, related to my past, and the kind of person I grew up in high school. Although I’ve been living in Canada for almost 2 years, I agree up in the United States. In the hobbit state of Rhode Island, of all places, probably the most religiously free states. I starting writing in middle school, to high school in English class. We would have one of these writing prompts to use all the vocabulary of the lesson to create a story. I always had a vivid, eclectic imagination, and the words summoned within me coherent narratives with thorough descriptions and vivid imagery. Mrs. Dukes was one of my favorite English teachers. She had a hawkish visage, a playful sense of strictness, in a sort of way. She always complimented me on my writings, and I would get a spurt of joy from that. I struggled with identity issues in middle school, and throughout high school. I didn’t have a clue what I was good at. I liked the visual arts, particularly painting, I enjoyed playing music, particularly listening music, but I only dabbled in these. I never was adept, or a prodigy. Though I was born with black hair, brown eyes, and yellow-tinted skin, I couldn’t fit into that Asian stereotype of achieving high grades in mathematics and the high sciences. All this seemed like ancient Greek to me, except I never had the Rosetta stone for translation.
My forays into the writing began in high school, I began an anonymous Xanga blog (the now extinct-dodo bird) and starting blogging. I started another website for my writings, for my more intriguing narratives of short-fiction and poetry. I felt like I was discovering the earth was round. I could pour my teenage-angst, anxiety, and real life tragedy into some substantial words. Writing was reality to me. More real than high school, with all the facades, cliques, part-time friends, bullies, acquaintances, and in fact strangers. I felt like some alien in a body walking around, acting, pretending that all was well in my life. I rarely spoke about the pain and misery that hung in my soul like a phantom mist weighing me down. Growing up in a family, who very rarely spoke about feelings, I didn’t have the means of communicating. And as a guy, my father told me to grow up, to not cry because that wasn’t what it meant to be a man. I was quiet, reserved, and withdrawn at school. But I could easily laugh, and easily break down in tears. I was sensitive to feedback, even though I didn’t initial react quickly. As a child, I was a loner. I didn’t have any friends at school, and I would wander the playground, waiting for class to begin again. I hated recess, and secretly hated myself. I wasn’t liked by any girls at school. I was that kid with the glasses with the Harry Potter glasses, the kid who was quiet, shy, occasional delivering cynical commentary. I suppose people didn’t take me seriously, because I didn’t know how to reveal myself to people.
So when it came to writing, typing, it was a white canvas to me, like King Arthur touching the pommel of Excalibur. Writing made life alive. It made my life worth living, and I had found my God-given purpose. I wasn’t born a reader, I had to have a personal tutor help me with writing in elementary school, every week during recess. We would read stories together, and after ever lesson she would let me put two stickers on my folder. I still have the folder, stickers from Halloween to Christmas tattooed all over. I started reading “Curious George,” “Magic Treehouse,” “Captain Underpants,” and the entire “Redwall” series. I would devour each book within a week, sometimes within 3 days. Having ADHD was difficult, but I always practiced reading, and through sheer will-power, I was able to pay attention and understand coherent narratives.
When I began writing in high school, short stories, and poetry, I didn’t have much experience at all. I only had a vivid imagination, and a terrible sense of wordiness. I still find that I have terrible grammar, when I am writing essays or “unoriginal” material. I ran long distance races in high school, and my sentences were in the same way, run on sentences. My vocab was like a dwarf, severely stunted. I would reiterate the same words over and over. I still recoil like I was shocked my static electricity when I read my earlier works.
My unorthodox writings were ramblings of a high imaginative mind fleeing into the inner recesses of my mind. I still wonder why people were attracted to my poetry, which significantly evolved when i started reading Emile Dickinson, Gary Snyder, Edgar Allen Poe, Thoreau, and many others. Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 blew my mind out of the water. It left me forever changed on thrillers, the genre of dystopian societies. Mrs. Duke gave me that book, and it was a sort of metanoia, an epiphany of what our society was becoming and degrading into. All my English teachers, I have to thank for forcing me to read short stories and books. Some memorable reads were Great Expectations, Flowers for Algernon, A Tale of Two Cities, Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter, The Scarlet Ibis, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Tuck Everlasting, Things Fall Apart, and countless summer reading novels.
And it’s strange to see how much one changes, evolves. I use to be one of the weird, eccentric kids, social outcasts in high school, and by the time I graduated college, I had become “popular” in some sorts. For the first time, I had girls think i was smart, attractive. I felt like I could have a choice but I never took advantage of it. I always remembered my humbled roots, of that social-insecure, short, Asian kid. I knew who I was, and I didn’t need anyone to define me. I still am devoutly religious, and I knew my identity, in God, in Jesus Christ. I didn’t need the approval of others, because I had already found my life.
And that’s why I write, because writing is living, it is raw, an unedited cut. Reading allows to to temporary escape our own thoughts, bond ourselves with another’s thoughts, to create another reality, far greater than what we could have imagined alone. Those who will be future thinkers, future leaders, are those who read, and write. I hope you enjoyed this brief bit about me, and I hope that you keep on writing and imparting your story into the world. You already have it within you, you have the material. You are only a story left untold.
Keep on writing.