Note: If you are an Asian diaspora writer, join me for Hotpot on 10/22, an experimental affinity Writing Space for us.
Today’s ’Writing is going out to all subscribers, free and paid, because I have an important question that has to do with everyone: If The Reading were a book, what would you want it to be?
For those of you who have been at Writing Space or if you’re my agent (hi, Rebecca!), you’ll know that I’ve been working on this for a while. I’ve tried many possible forms—a memoir, a how-to book, and even fiction. But every iteration so far has felt hollow in its delivery. That’s when I understood that I was missing an important part, a part that makes The Reading, well, The Reading: you.
Until now, I’ve only been querying close friends about this. Why? Perhaps I was afraid of spamming you with something you didn’t sign up for. But the truth is, these letters I’m writing are for you—and for a younger poet not unlike my past self, too. I hope to write the answers I so desperately wanted to hear.
But I also know that times have changed—inevitably, some questions have stayed the same while others have shifted.The Reading is special because it’s not just written by me. It comes from letters from readers like you writing right now. What we gain from having this exchange in public is a measure of community—a way for those private thoughts to reach others who are struggling with them also not just after the fact, but during our historical moment.
So, in contrast to the secrecy with which I conduct many different projects, I want to hear from you: what is the book you hope to have beside you on your writing journey? How has The Reading impacted you or your writing?
What will I do with this feedback? Not: write a book by committee. I will definitely read your feedback and maybe follow up with you for clarity. I might ask your permission to use your testimonial in a book proposal. But most of all, I will think about it alongside the feedback from others and ask myself: what’s missing in the world right now for writers like you? What can only I do while also making space for others?
This project the culmination of so many things for me, but most of all, it has changed the way I believe community is possible. What can we do when we are far away from each other? When we are busy with surviving? When we are reeling from uncertainty and a change to all we know? How can we still write together? How can we be reminded that it’s more important than ever to not only be together, but to connect?
Thank you for reading (and writing) with me. I look forward to learning more about what I can do.