Becoming a Diaspora Dialogues mentee and working with Shani Mootoo is a dream come true. In my creative writing training so far, I have often found myself stranded in classes and spaces that privileged white and straight perspectives. This is a time when I feel like I can write without constantly censoring myself.
The manageable scale of a short story is what drew me to write in that form to be honest. In terms of my writing process, I fill a notebook a month for now and then I harvest the cherries on a regular basis for interesting and workable starts.
The stories that I’m currently writing try to make sense of impossible desires that straddle chasms of gender, generation, race and class to find intimacy in an absence of shared language. They explore hopeful beginnings, ghostly endings, and stubborn attachments that often fail in the face of what is inherited. They stay loyal to cores that are constantly dissected and shaken up by an oppressive world. The light that they shed, on family, friendship and unruly love, is at once brutal and tender, irreverent and dark. The stories that I’m trying to write carve out spaces and imprint themselves onto landscapes and architectures that were not constructed with queer and trans of colour bodies in mind. They forage through the dirt in search of treasures to keep and share.
If I could choose anyone to write my story it would be the young Hanif Kureishi. Kai Cheng Thom!
In an ideal world, we would all do that thing called art. We would do other things, too: organize, care, nourish ourselves and others… Chances are, we are already doing all these things, but are not being recognized as writers and other artists because the mould of bodies and identities that are validated as such is just so narrow.
When I became a full-time academic, books morphed from my best friend into a chore. I stopped reading and writing creatively altogether. Ten years from now, I will have found ways to integrate creative writing into my everyday. Since I teach in a Faculty that has a community art practice focus, there is a real possibility that I will transform my day job into a site of creativity. And who knows, I might have a collection of short fiction or two out as well.