Expressing My Voice

I was taught to listen. This meant obeying my parents. It meant paying attention to teachers. Often, I translated this rule as to not talk, to never talk. I once held an inner competition to not speak for a whole day (yes, I won).

I’d held back so long I had a difficult time even knowing what my own voice was, figuratively speaking. In high school, I started trying to find out. I wrote lots of poetry (some poems even got published). I did drama (even got some speaking lines).

Writing has been a refuge to me. An oasis where I can express my thoughts and feelings. This would be amazing place to write:

Outside patio of Bel Canto Books (in Long Beach, CA)

Stories have also been catalysts. They help me to excavate and explore myself even further.

Back when I was a fledgling writer, I wanted to create the Great American Novel. What did that even mean to me? I think something along the lines of Steinbeck. Or a brooding novel about individualism and, perhaps, apple pie. Truly, I didn’t know.

With my stories now, I feel like I am writing American tales. Based on my background and identity, which is just as valid an experience as any other. It’s taken me a long time to embrace this idea, and I’m still growing.

Actually, I just did a panel about Expressing Your Unique Voice at the Los Angeles Public Library-Northridge branch with Tori Eldridge, Naomi Hirahara, and Julie Tieu. It was a beautiful hybrid event, leaving me emboldened and empowered.

L-R: Naomi Hirahara, Jennifer J. Chow, Tori Eldridge, and Julie Tieu

I’ll continue to tell stories revolving around culture and family—and food. (Speaking of which, Ed Lin and I will be chatting in person about night markets and writing at Vroman’s Bookstore on Tuesday, August 2 at 7pm. Join us if you can!)

I encourage you to share your unique voice, whether through writing or a different medium!

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Speak Your Mind


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