Social media reminders of posts and moments that occurred a number of years ago have reminded me that it’s now been a whopping decade since – what I call – the summer of inspiration. In 2012, two distinct occurrences happened that summer that ultimately inspired me to start taking my creative writing more seriously.
At the beginning of that summer, I was experiencing a major creative block. It had been a hot minute since I had taken the time to write anything that wasn’t in the objective tone of journalism. Being a communication major in college, a lot more of my time and energy had been spent writing essays for class assignments and articles for both my college’s weekly newspaper and the local Patch Media (remember them?) outlet I was freelancing for at the time.
By that summer, taking only a few college courses and having left the college newspaper at the end of the previous quarter, I had more time for other things. One of them was as a marketing intern for the San Francisco chapter of Kollaboration; a non-profit organization that uplifts upcoming performing artists from the Asian American community through its annual showcase. I had initially heard about it when I did a feature on 2010 Kollaboration LA artist, Clara Chung, and when I heard that the local chapter – then led by actor and filmmaker Minji Chang – was looking for marketing interns, I decided to go for it.
It was very inspiring for me to be surrounded by individuals who were making great strives to uplift and empower upcoming artists from our community, in a time where we didn’t have things like”Fresh Off the Boat,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” and “Everything Everywhere All At Once” as part of the zeitgeist. The conversations, as they had been for decades before, were there, but we were taking on the initiative and actually showing the pool of talent that has always been there. That year’s showcase was very well attend at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall, complete with a red carpet and special musical guests like New Heights (remember them?) and – surprise, surprise – Clara Chung.
Aside from it spearheading my now decade-long work in the Asian American arts community, being a part of Kollaboration SF when I was showed me what was possible. Yes, we were showcasing singers, dancers, electric violin players, and even a tricking group; not writers. But even still, I saw these artists work hard on their crafts as they got ready to show them onstage, and as a result, it empowered me to consider the possibilities of what I could do as a mixed-race Filipino American writer, if I really went for it once and for all.
Kollaboration was a jolt of motivation I hadn’t realized I needed, and they weren’t the only one. I had mentioned author Chris Colfer on here before and my interactions with him at his various book events. Well, that same summer is when his debut novel, The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, came out. Spurred from a story he has carried with him since his youth, the benefits that came with starring on a very popular TV show of the time, “Glee,” is what led to him acquiring a book deal and finally make this dream of his realized. While that initial effort maybe was taken with a grain of salt by those who knew him only as the guy who played Kurt Hummel on the show (so much to where his publisher even asked him for a writing sample when he said he wanted to write a novel rather than a memoir), anyone who has followed his literary efforts since then knows what a prolific and thoughtful writer he has come to be; so much to where he’s known more so now for his writing than his acting.
Chris is two years older than me, and already had a lot going on on his plate at the time. Heck, he even put out a feature film earlier that same year! But seeing him be able to make it all work without having to sacrifice the quality of any of what he was doing inspired me, a hella busy college student, to consider doing the same: make the time and energy for something I love doing, amidst everything else I had going on at the time. While today’s time more so emphasizes working smarter, not harder (a lesson I’m still learning to grasp), seeing Chris do what he was doing then made for quite a launching point for me. I don’t credit him enough for that. I’m trying to be better about that.
It’s been ten years since these events all unfolded over the course of that summer, and by that fall, I set myself on a trajectory I have had myself set on since. Ten years later, I’ve written and self-published two novels, written several short plays that have been produced in-person and virtually, I’m currently making efforts to take on a career in screenwriting, and as it’s known by now, I’m now writing my first graphic novel. Had those two events – joining Kollaboration and seeing Chris release his debut novel – not occur when they did, who knows how much of my own writing accomplishments, if at all, would have happened. While I’m admittedly still quite a ways off from where I want to be, I’ll always remember who to credit for inspiring me to finally start making my dreams as a writer come true. I’ll always remember the summer of 2012 as the summer of inspiration.
The Kickstarter campaign is currently going on for Dasig; a Filipino martial arts graphic novel I am writing. If you have the means to do so, we would love it if you can become a backer. Whether you can or can’t, please share the link with others. It really helps a great deal. More information about the graphic novel can be found at Dasig.ph.
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