8 Years of Lola By the Bay and 2021 Year in Review

For those who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas! For those who don’t, I hope you have a really good day anyway.

I can’t believe it’s been this long since the formation of my little corner of cyberspace already. It’s grown to be the virtual hub that I’ve always wanted for myself, and then some. I created the website to make it easy, for those who don’t already follow me on social media, to keep up with writing projects I have going on, as well as what’s on my mind on a (mostly) week-to-week basis. Looking back on my posts over the last 11 months, I think I’ve started to notice just how blatant and honest I’m becoming about both where I am in my journey as a writer, as well as the things that I truly care about.

The latter very much goes hand-in-hand with the events that have happened over the past year. As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued on from the point where we thought we’d finally find a way out of this tunnel, members of the Asian American community have continued to be attacked; most notably in the uptick around Lunar New Year, and in March when six Asian women were eight of the fatalities in the Atlanta spa shootings. It took a massacre for the general public to finally wake up to this other pandemic that’s been going on, and what was Racism is a Virus became Stop Asian Hate. I’ve encouraged you, my readers, to educate yourself via the multiple resources that are out there about my community’s history with racism, microaggressions, and stereotypes. I hope you’ve done just that.

In thinking long and hard about what my community has been through in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside our ongoing strives for bettering representation across all storytelling platforms, I feel I’ve become more thoughtful with the spaces I occupy with the community, and have come to point out how voices like mine aren’t necessarily the ones being considered nor validated when one thinks of the term “Asian American.” Combined with my multi-faceted occupation as a writer, I’ve started to express this part of me even more so than previous years, and perhaps, more coherently than ever before. This has been most notable in my re-introduction to myself as the start of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and sharing the Mixed Pinoy Pride panel I took part in for the inaugural Mixed Asian Media Fest, at the beginning of Filipino American History Month.

Speaking of being a writer, this past year was a big one for me as both a playwright and a screenwriter. While I wasn’t making it as a quarterfinalist and semifinalist in writing competitions like I was last year, that doesn’t means lots of writing hasn’t been happening and submitted to as many opportunities as possible.

The fact that it was a year of being a playwright at all is significant, for I honestly thought it would be a good while before I wrote for the theater again. In February of this year, I made my debut with Rainy Day Artistic Collective, when my Zoom play, “Interview with an Aswang,” was featured in their Winter One Act Digital Festival. Earlier this month, I made my return for my second production with them, when “The Swan” was featured in their Twisted Tales One Act Festival.

With “Interview with an Aswang,” I saw the potential for it to reach an even wider audience, and together with my cast and co-director, I took a leap of faith with it and converted it into a short film of the same name. While it has since been submitted into several film festivals, it is only Mixed Asian Media Fest that it has played at. Nevertheless, I’m slowly but surely looking at other options at making it available to viewers, without having to take the film festival route.

There actually has been an uptick in screenwriting projects this year, but most notably within the past few months. I feel that I’m not in a position to speak too much of them at this time, but I believe what can be expressed is that there are a couple of things in the works. This comes after an expression of desire of wanting to write content I haven’t written before, and a few months later, the universe responded. My hope is that the responses continue to come.

While projects in the theater and film worlds start to hike up, I’ve noticed how my path as a novelist has suddenly taken a backseat. I prodded this when I spoke of where I am as a novelist and what’s going to occur next. After pushing to make something happen through a mental block that is still very much there, I decided to be like Bruce Lee for a time and be like water.

Last month marked five years since An Absolute Mind was released. In re-reading just a few chapters alone, I could already tell how much I’ve grown as a writer since I initially wrote that manuscript back in 2015. As I’ve come to realize recently, writing in formats where showing not telling is key is what has helped me evolve to being the writer that I am now. It looks like script writing has its benefits, but of course, I’ve yet to see whether it has made an actual impact as far as writing prose goes.

2021 in general has continued the same roughness that its predecessor bore. Sure, I’ve been vaccinated and boosted, and I’ve gotten to see friends in-person whom I’ve been kept apart from for far too long. And yet, not much has changed as far as the pandemic goes. I’m still working from home for who knows how much longer, someone I live with had a breakthrough case over the summer, and despite there being vaccines available for a majority of the U.S., as of this writing, approximately 814,000 people have died from COVID-19.

We thought this year would go one way, and instead made a hard left turn. It’s as a result that I have no idea what to expect from 2022, and that makes me very afraid. However, I’m not going to wait around on anti-vaxxers to start steering my life in the direction I want to take it in.

There are a lot of life changes I want to make for myself in general in the coming year. It’s going to be a significant year for me from a societal perspective, but I want to make even more so and in my own way.

That includes the writing I put out to the world. I think anyone who has become aware of me within the last two or three years best knows me for doing a lot of interviews with renowned Asian American public figures within the entertainment industry. While I’m grateful for the opportunities to interview such like-minded folks in the past and in the upcoming future, if you haven’t figured it out by now from the last nine years of taking my writing more seriously, I want to be the kind of creative like the ones I speak to.

For me, that includes pursuing these smaller projects that are currently on my plate. That includes continuing to apply for opportunities that I know I’ll be a good fit for if they would just open the door. That includes reaching out to creatives I personally know and say, “Hey, let’s collaborate on something together.” That means thinking about a bigger project for myself that can show what I’m capable of writing now. I hope you’ll tune for all that.

In the meantime, if you like reading what I write – whether it be a profile on an Asian American creative or a Zoom play – then please show your support by contributing to my Ko-Fi campaign (more information on how the money will be used can be found in this past I wrote back in October). It will make for the highest validation if I’m actually paid for what I love doing best.

Other than that, poke around on my website if you haven’t already. Check out my books. Read interviews I’ve done with others and interviews that have been done with me. Watch the trailers and plays I’ve done that are available online. Reach out if you want to apply my writing skills to a creative collaboration.

I’ve been at this for over nine years, y’all. I am open and ready for so much more. Let’s see if I can make some of my goals in mind become a reality by this time next year.


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