The Creative Process as Transformation

My manuscript has been slowly growing for five years. Although it started as a work of creative non-fiction, I later incorporated fable and poetry. Most recently, oral storytelling has played a big role in its development. A year and a half ago, I received a micro-grant from a community arts organization called Art Starts to begin an audio project about language in Toronto. While working on recent drafts of the manuscript, I listened to the audio interviews that I conducted. With the permission of the interviewees, I have incorporated some of the dynamic conversations about language and cultural identity.

As I navigate the early stages of my writing career, I expect to develop a learning relationship with my mentor, Kai Cheng Thom. Relationship-building is important to me and I want to learn about her journey as a writer as I continue to understand my own. I wish to sharpen my editing skills and explore how to tell my multi-genre story in a way that best suits my vision. I hope to gain knowledge about realities and resources in publishing for racialized writers living in Canada.

A major part of my writing process is my participation in a weekly writing meet-up. We are a small but mighty group of racialized womxn who meet at a coffee shop in the east end almost every weekend. The biggest take away from this is the discipline and structure of writing at the same time and place every week. This ritual propels my writing for the rest of the week and anchors me in community with writers of various genres.

An ideal writer’s life exists in a world that fairly compensates writers for their labour. This means that writers are paid properly for their countless cycles of research, planning, production, editing, and public engagement. In this kind of world, there are also meaningful opportunities for writers to be engaged in community networks and in social movements.  Finally, this world has authors writing in multiple languages. In such a world, multilingual writing is a norm. English is no longer the overwhelmingly dominant language of literature and there is ample space for hundreds of other languages and the worldviews that they carry.

If I could choose anyone to write a book about my life, I would choose Vietnamese author Kim Thúy. Kim writes gorgeous poetic prose and has just written a cookbook. She would do an excellent job at capturing my reverence for food and particularly fruits. I can see her telling the story of my life using pomegranates, sapotes, sour cherries, durian, and papaya.

In ten years time, I imagine myself writing for the page as well as the screen. I will have published a book of non-fiction stories and will have written and directed a full-length documentary of social relevance. Because my stories are deeply personal and based in family experiences, I anticipate struggling with inevitable rejections from institutions and individuals. A highlight will be finding success in the writing profession while maintaining strong and reciprocal relationships with family, friends, community, and self. I understand that writing and artistic careers can put great demands on time and energy. I want to learn how to take good care out there as I strive to make a living telling stories.