Laing, Liisa


2001-2 David T. K. Wong Fellow

The best thing that happened to me during my year as a David T.K. Wong fellow was meeting David T.K. Wong himself. When I want to give up on the novel I have yet to finish I think of him. As I stare at my computer screen here in Bangkok, I see Mr. Wong's kindly face. I tell him that I've lost confidence and no longer believe that finishing my novel matters. Mr. Wong looks back at me like a Buddhist monk with a twinkle in his eye: So what? his eyes tell me gently. Writing requires a leap of faith. I have found that when I lose the 'writing-faith' the only way to get it back is to try to write myself back into it.

While I can easily convince myself that my own novel doesn't matter much in the big scheme of things, I can't convince myself that telling stories about East Asia in English is not important. I scour bookstores for those stories all the time. And bookstores full of these stories is what the David T.K. Wong fellowship is all about. I don't want to give up on that dream. I am editing academic papers and narrating documentaries for a living right now. I quit my job as a radio journalist in Bangkok before I went to UEA in 2001 and I have been a freelancer in Bangkok ever since. Work and the visas that allow me to work are often hard to come by. However, I am living in the midst of all the untold stories that I would like to read and I still want to write one of them. I haven't given up on the dream.