Years ago, I yearned to be a fictional character, on a journey destined to end on a positive note. I was Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby, fierce and independent, declaring my place in the world. I was Marjorie Sharmat’s Nate the Great, determined to unravel life’s mysteries. Later, I was Judy Blume’s Margaret Simon, navigating the road to adolescence.

In truth, I was a timid child, submerged in judgment and unrealistic expectations. I tottered and swayed, shaped by the whims of others. I envied these characters their abilities to take up space.

I traversed the pages of book after book, seeking comfort in their nooks. Eventually, I placed my own pen to paper and reclaimed control over my narrative.


As a teenager, I asked a friend if she, too, narrated scenes in her mind. If she visualized spoken conversations on a page, complete with dialogue tags. If she transcribed observations into a mental journal, to be scrutinized at a later time. If she considered random scenarios and the wildest, most unlikely outcomes.

“Isn’t that daydreaming?” she said. “I live in the moment, in reality.”

Daydreams are the stories we tell ourselves, borrowed from our realities. Seeds of untold tales exist everywhere. The peacock strutting on the sidewalk, far from home. The bouquet of peonies in the trash can, blushing buds just starting to unfurl. The elderly woman at the beach, weeping in front of the waves.

We nurture these seeds and watch them sprout. We flourish with them, in awe of the possibilities.


I grew up watching Korean dramas, before they permeated mainstream entertainment. Star-crossed lovers, babies switched at birth, bitter family feuds. I clutched my chest as characters died onscreen, though I had yet to truly fathom the throes of grief. My breath hitched at the tender exchanges between parents and children. These moments were pivotal, as I learned to feel with abandon.

At the root of storytelling, I believe, are emotions. The drive to fully experience them, and the desire to welcome the audience into a shared, vulnerable space. While reading, a phrase or scene often strikes me in its potency. As my heart thrums with sorrow or swells with joy, I marvel at the deliberation behind the writer’s work.

This is a goal I strive toward—to choose each word with purpose. Sifting through a sea of inspiration is a daily battle. Unearthing treasure is the reward.


These days, I appreciate the prevalence of books by an extensive range of authors. Among my favorites are Catherine Chung’s Forgotten Country, Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies, and Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko. These explorations of identity, otherness, and growth nudge me toward plumbing the depths of my own heritage and projecting my voice into the world.

I have come to understand that literature has the power to shift perspectives—to draw empathy, to educate, to stretch the boundaries of our beliefs. The tools to pursue these changes emerge from within.

There are no limits to writing. Every writer has their own story to tell. Extraordinary creatures straining to escape, ready to soar. I intend to embrace every aspect—the raw, the lovely, the grotesque. To break down the walls, both internal and external. To decipher the human condition. To splinter each day and put myself back together again, evolving as time inches forward.