1. Why did you start writing?
“It’s hard to pinpoint a specific reason. I remember when I was in kindergarten, my teacher would pick a student to be the ‘The Star of the Day’ and would have the whole class practice their handwriting by copying a sentence with a fun fact about them. For me, it was ‘Meily likes telling stories.’ The thing is, I don’t really remember writing anything until the following year, when my first grade teacher told me that it was Mickey Mouse’s birthday and I decided that the best way to celebrate was to write a self-insert fanfiction of me celebrating his birthday with him. Throughout elementary and middle school, I wrote on and off, dreaming about becoming an author duo with one of my friends. But once I got into high school, it didn’t feel as realistic anymore. I used writing as an emotional outlet and a way of recording memories, but I wasn’t trying to weave fantastical stories the way I used to. It wasn’t until college apps were approaching and I was getting an existential crisis about what I wanted to do with my life when I was looking back on my brief existence and realized I couldn’t see a future for myself that didn’t involve writing. That’s when I discovered writing twt and started submitting to litmags!”
2. Where do you draw inspiration?
“Haha, well as I always say in my bio: from my love life, my identity crises, and my dog! To an extent, those are all definitely true. But I think it’s better to say that my writing is inspired by my desire to preserve my thoughts. Every waking moment, we have a constant backing track of thoughts and yet they are so temporary and fleeting. We are so caught up in the past and the future that we don’t appreciate the thoughts grounding us to our present. Sometimes, I try to track my different trains of thoughts and it makes my brain hurt, so instead, I try recording them in my notes app. It’s kind of like a quick-write exercise without any time limit! Then when I’m in a writing mood, I go through my word vomit of a notes app and polish the thoughts I feel best represent my current mood.”
3. How do you title poems?
“I love puns and alliteration, so I try to make sure my titles have some sort of wordplay! For example, the title ‘Playing God’ both references the video-game motifs in the poem and carries the meaning of writers ‘playing’ the part of a god. I tend to prefer shorter titles because I think it’s cool to pack so much meaning in such brevity, though I think longer titles are fun and witty in their own way too!”
4. Who are your go-to poets/writers?
“I find that I usually return to certain books and poems more than I do writers, but some of my favorite authors are Adam Silvera and Shelley Parker-Chan! Regarding poets, I don’t think anyone’s poetry has impacted me as much as my friends’, whether they’re ones I’ve made through writing twitter or not. Some of my favorites are Joyce Liu, Laura Ma, Kayleigh Sim, Dhwanee Goyal, Trini Rogando, Kaya Dierks, and my roommate! I can go on and on listing them but I think I’ll stop here…”
5. It says on your author page that most of your works are first drafted at 1 AM. How did you become a night writer?
“Maybe my bio has been a little misleading…I actually sleep pretty early, at least according to my definition of early (before 2)! I usually get ideas at night while I’m trying to fall asleep, since that’s when I have the most time to think. I consider my dumping-all-my-thoughts-into-my-notes-app-until-my-brain-is-empty stage to be more like something between brainstorming and drafting rather than actual writing. I usually do the proper writing in the late afternoon or before bed because that’s when I tend to have the most uninterrupted free time.”
6. Did college affect your writing, like how you write or what you write about?
“First of all, I definitely write a lot less now that I’m in college. Most days I’m too busy to write or even think about anything other than what I have to do for school. The atmosphere at college about making life-long friends and becoming the person you want to be has definitely influenced what I write about though. I haven’t refined or published any of these new pieces yet, but I’ve been exploring vulnerability, ambition, and the role we play in others’ lives. I’ve also been writing more about my family history, though that’s more because I’m older and know more about it now than it is about being in college.”
7. Would you like to share what current writing project(s) you are working on?
“I don’t have any big plans in the works right now, but I do have some mini goals of poems I’d like to try writing! Particularly, I’d like to try writing more form poetry like ghazals, villanelles, and sonnets. More concrete and experimental poetry would be cool too, since I love playing with the visuals of a poem to enhance its meaning. Currently, I’m working on a longer prose poem divided into numbered sections. It was actually one of the poems I came up with for the dream/nightmare anthology!”
8. What do you hope people take away from your work?
“For me, publishing poetry is like sending things out into a void and then never thinking about it again. Once a poem’s been published, I move on to the next thing. Writing is a really unique experience for me because it feels like I’m emptying my thoughts and emotions and then permanently sealing them away into a poem. It's very cathartic but also a little bittersweet to lose touch with how I felt when I was writing that poem. It’s hard for even me to tap back into those emotions, let alone imagine what others would take away from my extremely personal poems. But if someone read my work and found something they could relate to, I think that would be really special. I hope that it would give them solace that they are not alone. Other than that though, I’ll be happy enough if they notice all the puns I cram into my poems and titles because I am very proud of them!”
9. What’s your favorite writing advice you’ve been told or happened to overhear? Or what writing advice would you offer?
“It’s okay to take breaks. You don’t have to push yourself to write when it’s just not happening. While you’re going about your life, you will eventually find something that inspires you to write again. I promise. I’ve pretty much been in a writing slump with brief intermissions since I submitted my college apps! But I’m not going to force myself to write if I have nothing I want to write about. Would I be able to write something interesting if I tried using a prompt or something? Maybe. Maybe it would be refreshing and new and good and I would love it. I have this belief that technically, it is possible for anyone to write about anything. Everyone has at least a bit of a thought on everything. But that doesn’t mean I have to write about how much I hate the spiderweb between my dorm window and fan, or how picturesque the barren trees lining my street are, or how simultaneously unsettling and beautiful the blue light from my ceiling router is. If I wrote about anything and everything, I would combust. And so would my notes app. So I say, write whenever you get the creeping urge to. It will happen when it happens.”
10. And finally, what do you enjoy doing that you don’t talk about enough? Tell me all about it!
“Very generic, but I love music! I took piano lessons when I was younger, though I only revisited it again during high school. Though to be honest, I still haven’t recovered my piano-playing skills very much yet... I’ve also been playing mobile rhythm games since middle school! My family is pretty musical too. My older sibling was actually a film scoring major and I remember after they started going to college, they started talking really critically about music, pointing out specific parts that worked well and didn’t. So I gradually learned to think about music differently so that we could talk about it. It’s so fun pointing out trends in different genres or listening to how music progresses during a scene of a movie or tv show. Recently, I’ve also been playing around with video editing! Syncing footage to the best of the music always gives me such an adrenaline rush. Just like a good line break or diction, it all fits together perfectly.”
Hear Meily read her poem "A Cat’s Fourth Life in the Body of a Dog."
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