Tell us about yourself.
I lived in China and the U.S. before moving to Canada. I was a freelance journalist for a few years, and recently got a 9-5 job. Even so, I have a constant sense of impermanence, of life in transition.
Tell us about the piece you’ve decided to share.
I wrote this feature on commuter students for The Varsity, my campus newspaper at the University of Toronto. Most at U of T are commuters, and this daily grind often carries over to work life as well. It was so different from how I imagined university growing up. I wondered how this experience was shaping our generation.
When and why did you realize you had a passion for writing?
University is when I really started writing. It was a time when I couldn’t study everything anymore; I had to choose. I originally chose engineering, then decided to quit and major in English and French literature.
What pieces of writing/authors have had the greatest impact on you?
I have many answers to this question, depending on when you catch me.
I often recall the books I read in early childhood. Chinese stories by authors unknown (to me) have stuck. I respect that they don’t hold back on loss, death, or the cruelty of circumstance, or maybe I just remember the most tragic ones.
One of the first English stories I read was “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” I was nine. I can’t remember whether I took to it so keenly because it reflected my reality or whether it subsequently shaped the way I live.
The writings of Zhuangzi, so fluid and so dense, are a later discovery.
What kind of writer do you aspire to be?
When I find writing that is apt, open, seeking, I am transformed. That is the kind of writing I aspire to do.
How and when do you find time to write?
Weekend mornings are the best time to sit down and work. I do write in my head all the time, during commutes or when I’m waiting in line. It’s a good way to feel things out without the pressure of a blank screen.