As the reviews for Inconvenient Daughter have found their way to my inbox, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I write. As a teenager, I mainly wrote to document my life. I wanted so desperately to remember every last detail, not knowing eventually these would be people, places, and things I’d want to forget. As I got older, I wrote to understand – to understand my decisions, the decisions of others…why things had gone a certain way.
While I was writing Inconvenient Daughter, my goal was to shine a spotlight on a side of the adoption narrative we don’t see a lot. I wanted the adoptee experience to be highlighted in a way that wasn’t centered around reunion – that was more about the journey towards understanding what it means to be adopted.
If I’m being honest with myself, validation is a huge reason why I write. I thought publishing a book would somehow make all the doubts I had about myself disappear – that it would be okay my biological mother didn’t want me, that it would mean my story was worth telling…that I was worth something.
In her introduction to Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott says (regarding publishing work), “It will not make them well. It will not give them the feeling that the world has finally validated their parking tickets, that they have in fact finally arrived. My writer friends, and they are legion, do not go around beaming with quiet feelings of contentment. Most of them go around with haunted, abused, surprised looks on their faces, like lab sogs on whom very personal deodorant sprays have been tested.”
I’ve been reading it over and over, desperately trying to will my brain to know this is true…and yet I can’t. I can’t stop feeling and wondering and doubting. I have a terrible habit of letting doubt live rent-free in my brain. I have a worse habit of letting it think it runs my life.
But not today.
I just finished Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere and was OBSESSED. Aside from a few details, I was really happy with how the book was portrayed on screen. Also, if that entire cast doesn’t get nominated for EVERY SINGLE EMMY then there is no justice.
As I read the reviews for Inconvenient Daughter, one thing was clear to me that I’m sure is clear to every writer: some people get it, some people don’t. Some people like it, some people don’t. This is the truth – there is nothing I can do to change it.
But then I remember how I felt watching Little Fires Everywhere, how I felt watching Rachel Chu being told she wasn’t the right type of Asian, how I felt reading John Cho’s epic op-ed in the LA Times this week…I feel seen.
So, that’s why I write. I don’t write for five-star reviews or praise from literary journals (although I wouldn’t turn them away lol)…I write because as a young transracial adoptee I felt alone. I felt as though there was no one in this world who understood me, who saw me. I write to let others know they are seen, they are heard…they are not alone.