Letting Go

Every morning, I flick at my smartphone screen and read the news. I watch for some of my favorite writers in art, technology, and cultural criticism. I used to marvel at how quickly some of my favorite writers and journalists could produce content in such a prolific manner. But having done that made me spiral into some major neuroses about my writing as well as assuming the impostor syndrome. Sure, I make a fine editor because it’s always easy to critique anyone else’s writing but your own. It’s also easy to say to yourself that you’re never going to meet the same ranks as the writers you admire. So, when I asked myself, “what is a successful writer?” I went way back into my grammar school days.

I remember being in English class when I was growing up and thinking how amazing it was to learn about subjects, predicates, nouns, and conjugating verbs. I think that was in large part due to the fact that I grew up in a household where multiple languages were spoken. To some degree, it helped and would stick with me for a long time. But it was also relatively confusing. How would I communicate in the long run? How would I use language? Over the years, I forgot how passionate I was about learning language until I had to serve as an editor in chief in college and in hindsight, it was probably because I was easy to work with and could be told what to do (and very impressionable).

Overall, after all this time, I think what makes a writer successful is doing one thing – letting go.

You might ask, what do you mean by letting go and this just sounds like so many other self help books and a little too easy? That’s not real advice, you might be saying. But take it however you want. It’s not about resignation, that’s different. When you are resigned, you don’t try, you don’t fight, and you don’t care. Letting go isn’t about having an “IDGAF” attitude either. You must respect yourself as a writer to know what you are passionate about and commit. If you’re the only one on earth that wants to write about the creation of the microprocessor or fascinated by the proliferation of #whatarethose meme, well, write about it. Write to yourself. Write for yourself. As writers, I understand the need for an audience, I mean, let’s face it, readership is important as a writer. But your reader reads your work because they see that you care. Another question you might be asking yourself is, “Okay, let go of what exactly?”

It’s been challenging because I was born and raised in an immigrant family that did not exactly foster my passions in the arts and humanities. When my mother immigrated to San Francisco in 1978, she didn’t exactly know what she was stepping into, but rallied her resources as best as she could and sent me to private school for as long as financially possible. Right away, she saw my love for the arts and language as a little girl. Yet she wanted me to grow up skilled in something practical that would yield me the life that she didn’t have in the Philippines. That being said, your past and upbringing have a lot to do with the way you define success. What you do and how you make your mark have a lot to do with personal histories and experiences and, sometimes, letting go of what you have been told time and time again will result in precarious living, doesn’t hold true when you let go and start living the life you want. It’s challenging, it’s tough, as a writer, but for all of the writers I know and deeply admire, I notice the one thing they did along the way that has led to what I perceive and acknowledge as success is to let go.

Letting go of naysayers, unproductive criticism, feeling like an impostor, perfection, the need to be right, the fear of being wrong, rigid structures that prevent you from growth, toxic people/personalities, habits that prevent you from actually writing.

I’ve said “I wish I just had more time” as well. But don’t we all? You gotta let go of that too. So, what would you do with that extra time? Where is that extra time going? At the end of the day, being a successful writer actually doesn’t mean writing for the biggest news outlets or even writing the best essay, article, or book. Being a successful writer means that you’ve written something you believe in and it can help illuminate something for someone. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to be award winning. But it has to be something you feel the world needs and couldn’t live without because if you don’t write it, it doesn’t exist and if it doesn’t exist, it probably never will. At least not from your perspective, your vision, and your experiences.

Don’t worry about someone misunderstanding or not getting it, that’s actually not a part of being successful. There will always be people that don’t get something because they genuinely don’t get it or because they intentionally don’t want to understand. Remember that it’s not your job to make people understand. It’s your job to think, read, write, and initiate the thoughts of others into thinking deeply about the world around them. You may be the only person writing what you write. Or, you might say that that’s been written before. Whatever the case, write gibberish, write crap, then look at what you write and start over. Writing is the place where you can command language and expand on it however you want. It’s really up to you to do what you want with it. But taking responsibility for the things you write is another aspect of writing that you need to take into account. You can always change your mind. In the long run, it’s also about a nice long conversation with culture itself and how it’s changed and where you want to see it go and how you’re making your mark as well. So, what are you waiting for?

Let go.

Originally posted to Freewrite‘s blog. You can view it here.

Hyphen Magazine Needs You

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Dear Family and Friends,

I devote my time to many projects. One of those special projects is serving as Hyphen magazine’s art editor. Hyphen is an all-volunteer Asian American culture and politics online and print magazine. We tell stories that don’t make it to mainstream media. We share experiences of our Asian American brothers and sisters. We spread awareness of diverse issues within our community. We do it because we love it. And we know that each story and piece of artwork benefits our entire community.

Next year, Hyphen wants to focus on a topic we can all relate to: Health. There are many unspoken and obscured realities that Asian American individuals, families and communities face that need to be shared. As a volunteer-run publication, we can’t do this alone. We’re asking for the collective support from loved ones, friends, dedicated readers and beyond to help us realize the “The Health Issue”.

We need to raise $10,000 by December 31. Will you support our Indiegogo campaign today?

I made a personal commitment of $150! Please help me reach my goal.

By contributing to The Health Issue, you will be educating the community, erasing stigmas and changing attitudes and beliefs about physical and mental disabilities and illness. Each dollar raised will go towards production costs of the magazine, including printing, artist and writer compensation, shipping, etc. All donors will be acknowledged online and in print. Based on your donation, you have the opportunity to receive some great perks for your generosity, which may include: Hyphen swag, a copy of Jeff Chang’s new book Who We Be: The Colorization of America, or an exclusive video chat with comedian and actor, Kristina Wong.

OUR HEALTH ISSUE WILL INCLUDE COVERAGE OF:

  • Postpartum depression

  • Increasing rates of diabetes among APIs

  • Same-sex abortion bans

  • And more in-depth storytelling of other health issues within our community

YOUR DONATION WILL GO TOWARD:

  • Printing 1,000 copies of the issue

  • Shipping the issue to supporters, universities, and libraries

  • Compensating talented artists and writers

YOU CAN ALSO SUPPORT US BY:

Join the conversation on Asian American health by December 31. Thanks for reading. Stay healthy and awesome!

Much Love,

Dorothy

Speaking on a panel at Open City Art City at YBCA! #opencities2025

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FREE with RSVP: http://opencityartcity.tumblr.com/

Open City/Art City Festival
October 4, 2014
YBCA, 701 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94113
11am – 8pm

For those who want the specific details of the panel I will be participating on, here you go!

Artful Models: Creative Solutions to Our Changing Industry (YAAW Lounge at 7:00 PM)
Moderated by Rhiannon MacFayden, Founder, A Simple Collective

Artists are tinkerers, rebuilders, inverters, and the do-it-yourselfers. Historically, artists have also been socioeconomic “canaries”—the first (vocal) casualties of financial and political wind-shifts. As our economies and communities change, and we continue to hemorrhage local artists, beloved nonprofits, and established galleries, creative “artrepreneurs” are finding new models to keep the industry, and their vision, thriving. We’ll ask some of these nimble innovators about their view of the current climate and what they’re doing to create solutions to our art-world problems.

Panelists:

  • Danielle Siembieda-Gribben, The Art Inspector: from performance to business
  • Dorothy Santos, Grey Area Foundation: Discussing their big changes and why
  • Noah Weinstein, Autodesk Artist Residency: A symbiotic model for supporting artists while building technology
  • Rhiannon Evans MacFadyen, A Simple Collective + ASC Projects: An experiment in hybrid gallery models
  • Tim Roseborough, Artist “Meta-Practice”, art through marketing/marketing through art

Craving more information about #opencities2015? Check out the details of the event and learn more about the partnering organizations below! 

*          *          *          *

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) and The Institute for the Future (IFTF) are teaming up to engage the public through a creative and generative weekend that looks at how we transform a city. The weekend consists of IFTF’s Maker Cities’ Conference (Oct. 3) and the Open City/Art City Festival (Oct. 4). Through a vibrant mix of art installations, speakers, participatory activities, performances, music, food, and play, IFTF and YBCA invite the Bay Area community to imagine how we can build a city that is more open, creative and inclusive.

The Open City/Art City Festival seeks to leverage the essential role we all play in civic life and the future of our city. We want to explore the infrastructures, assets, and places needed within cities locally and globally to enable access to artistic exploration, inspiration, participation, collaboration, and opportunity.

The Festival provides a unique occasion to connect with some of the most progressive leaders in the Bay Area who are on the forefront of socially engaged enterprises in the arts, the public sector, urban design, and technology. Join us in uniting our diverse communities together to help frame generative dialogue, identify opportunities for collaboration, community engagement, collaborative design of our public spaces, and inclusive, citizen-centered city models.

As dialogue, connectivity, advocacy, storytelling, and cross-disciplinary innovation are increasingly woven into projects produced by artists and civic technologists, the boundaries between passive and active participant are diminished in lieu of a civic-minded and interdependent community. We hope that by providing a venue for stakeholders and community members to facilitate discussion, we can amplify the broad range of perspectives that comprise our city, and inspire new ways to shape the future. We are truly excited to help foster new, resilient connections in the community and facilitate mutually beneficial relationships across disciplines and industries in the Bay Area. And more to come!

ABOUT THE ORGANIZERS

Institute for the Future (IFTF) is an independent, nonprofit strategic research group with over 46 years of forecasting experience. Our mission is to help organizations, communities, and individuals think systematically about the future. We pioneer tools and methods for building foresight and insight to drive more informed and thoughtful action today. IFTF is based in Palo Alto, California.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) was founded in 1993 out of an expressed need for an accessible, high-profile San Francisco venue devoted to contemporary visual art, performance, and film/video representing diverse cultural and artistic perspectives. Distinguished by its support for contemporary artists from around the world, YBCA is also recognized for the important role the organization plays in the San Francisco Bay Area arts ecology and in the community at large. From its award-winning youth arts and activism job training program, Young Artists at Work, to the acclaimed triennial Bay Area Now multidisciplinary arts festival, YBCA has established its leadership role as a champion of living artists working in the Bay Area.

TOPICS INCLUDE

• Systems of Support and Strengthened Infrastructures for Vibrant Arts and Culture
• Uniting Civic Technology with Arts Civic Practice
• Digital Divide, Inclusive Technology Movement
• “Re-engineering” the Relationship between Art and Technology in the Bay Area
• Maker Cities – The “Maker Mindset” to the Complex urban challenges of health, education, food, and citizenship
• Economic Shifts and Gaps – Addressing Equity – Changes in Neighborhoods and its Impacts
• Public and Private Partnerships – Leveraging New Resources and Capital

Master’s Thesis Project ~ Narratives of Marginalized Bodies: Exploring Third Space in Contemporary New Media and Digital Art

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FINALLY! My thesis is done. Please click on the symposium poster image above to access the Graduate Thesis Work 2014 site brought to you by the California College of the Arts. You will be able to read my thesis abstract there and learn a bit more about my overall project. If you want further details or read it (goddess bless you because I have NO idea who would want to read it other than my committee and fellow cohort – because they were required to read it!), please feel free to contact me via the contact form on this blog site or the email provided on the CCA grad site. Thank you!!