Friend and fellow writer Dustin is a very talented artist, and he’s participating in this thing called #inktober. I’m an amateur doodler at best, but I like the spirit of #inktober, so I’m going to do the “5K” version, meaning 1 drawing a week. Here is my first:
Riley wanted to participate too, but he can’t hold a pen, so we did #kibbleart instead:
After college, I immediately started working as an account manager at a design firm, where everyone was insanely talented and stylish. (If you’ve worked in the commercial arts, you probably know what I’m talking about.) One of my coworkers there was Emily Mavridoglou, who I would sum up as elegant, colorful, and kind. Eventually we both left the company, and now we’re each pursuing our lifelong dreams. Mine, to write novels. Hers, to design custom stationery.
She’s just starting out, but already she has created so many wonderful designs for people. Thank you cards, wedding invites, birth announcements, and more. I really like how she brings beauty to these communications, making them more personal. Custom stationery is truly “social media,” in a sense. And there’s something to it that can’t be replicated in an e-vite or a Facebook update.
You can also learn more about me over on Emily’s blog, where she is hosting a series of interviews with creative friends who are pursuing their dreams. I’m honored to be included. In my interview I talk about the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far, what inspires me, and where I work.
Oh, and Riley makes a cameo! (Two, if you count doodles.)
More than once, I have joked that I wanted to be the Taylor Swift of writing. Meaning that I wanted to become a hot-shot novelist in my teens (and ideally continue to put out hits for the rest of my life). Obviously my teens have come and gone and that didn’t happen. But it’s all good. Maybe I can be the Katy Perry of writing instead?
Recently I watched both Taylor and Katy’s biopic/concert movies, and I came to some realizations:
They work really hard. Yes, they’re doing what they love, and the’ve managed to become rich and famous from it. But that doesn’t take anything away from all the heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears they put into their music. And in addition to the singing and songwriting, they spend a lot of time designing their concerts, rehearsing and performing and marketing their work, connecting with fans, and making decisions that impact the dozens (if not hundreds) of people in their employ. They are in fact young businesswomen. It’s impressive, humbling, and inspiring.
They have achieved a lot of success at very young ages, but it didn’t happen overnight. Both struggled to be taken seriously, to be allowed to express themselves in the way that they wanted. At one point, Taylor walked away from a good opportunity with a major record label because she believed that she could do better. She ended up taking a chance on a startup, and together they skyrocketed to the top. (Guts!) Katy spent years bouncing between record labels, all of whom knew she was talented but weren’t sure how to market her and thus were reluctant to invest. Despite the frustrations, she always went back to the music, writing songs and playing gigs until finally someone decided to back her all the way — and even handed her the reins. (Perseverance!)
I think part of what appeals to people (certainly to me) about their music is how much of themselves they put into it. Their personal experiences, their emotions, their style. Taylor is infamous for writing about her famous ex-boyfriends, and Katy makes no secret that many of her recent hits are about her the ups and downs of her relationship with Russell Brand. Some people think that’s tacky; I think it’s brave and endearing. I can relate to their excitement, their doubts, their hopes, their heartaches. And it makes their songs stand out from some of the more generic stuff.
As much as I might joke about wanting to be the Taylor or Katy of writing — and as many similarities as there may be between our dreams (artistry, storytelling, entertaining the masses, etc.) — one key difference is that being a pop star usually requires a youthful appeal. They probably have a limited window of opportunity for mainstream success, whereas writers are not judged by the marketability of their faces/bodies, but by the quality marketability of their stories.
At one point, Katy’s sister talks about how people were trying to get Katy to be the next Britney, or the next Avril, or whoever, and how she never wanted to be the next anybody. She wanted to be the first Katy. Good point. I don’t want to be the next JK Rowling, the next Stephenie Meyer, or the next Suzanne Collins. I want to be the first Kristan.
I want to write about horses at dusk. About their big beautiful bodies. About their soft grazing sounds. About the unconscious flicks of their tails, and the way that night falls around them, noiseless and dark, like the sorrow in my best friend’s voice.
But I’m afraid to write something bad, so it’s easier not to write at all.
I was born in America to a Taiwanese mother and a Caucasian father. I grew up with three other “halfie” friends, their mothers also immigrants (former classmates of my mom’s) and their fathers white men from this country, just like mine. Three boys and me, only two of them brothers, but all of us family in those days.
To me, this was the norm. Mixed race families, with mixed race kids. Even my other best friends were girls with brown hair and brown eyes, so I kind of assumed they were halfies too. Or rather, I didn’t really question what they were — didn’t see them as being different than me — because it didn’t matter.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized a family like mine wasn’t necessarily the norm. That mixed race marriages were not only uncommon in this country until the late 20th century, but also illegal in most states until the Supreme Court invalidated those laws.
That landmark case, Loving vs. Virginia, was decided on June 12, 1967. So today I’m celebrating 46 years of my family being allowed to exist — and hoping for a future full of more loving marriages, between whatever races, genders, backgrounds, and beliefs there may be.
Note: I was inspired to write this post after hearing about this adorable Cheerios ad, and the unfortunate backlash against it.
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Beautiful and confident Sophie Lin, goody-goody aspiring writer Claudia Bradford, and boy-crazy scientist MJ Alexander are ready to tackle work, love, and life after college -- or so they think.
As their relationships go sour, their careers sputter, and a few too many ethical dilemmas arise, the girls turn to the one thing they can always count on: each other. But even that will be put to the test...
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