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Segue 12: Fall 2014  ||  Raymond M. Wong

 

about the author

         

Raymond M. Wong’s family is his inspiration. He lives in San Diego with his wife, Quyen, and children, Kevin and Kristie. He earned the Eloise Klein Healy scholarship and the MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and his writing has appeared in U.S.A Today, U-T San Diego, LA Daily News, Chicken Soup for the Soul, San Diego Family, Asia: The Journal of Culture and Commerce, City Works 2006, Small Print Magazine, and other publications. Wong has been an assistant editor on Lunch Ticket, Antioch’s online literary journal, and he works as a counselor at San Diego City College. His memoir, I’m Not Chinese: The Journey from Resentment to Reverence, will be published by Apprentice House in October 2014.

   
 

about the work

 

“Hate” is an excerpt from my upcoming memoir, I’m Not Chinese: The Journey from Resentment to Reverence. In 1996, I was an emotionally empty 33-year-old, an outsider in every aspect of my life. I had disowned my native language and culture. I was disconnected from my family. My mother and I were polar opposites and grated on each other because we were so different. I hadn’t seen my father in twenty-eight years and didn’t get along with my stepfather. I harbored a profound distrust of people: I had few friends and my relationships with women could be summed up as a series of catastrophes.

Then I took a trip to Hong Kong, the city I left at the age of five. I met a father and an extended family in a place so utterly foreign, it could only be categorized as alien. Yet, these virtual strangers welcomed me despite the fact we couldn’t talk to each other—they spoke Cantonese and I spoke English. I discovered an appreciation for my mom, who had witnessed the murder of her father at the hands of Communist soldiers when she was twelve. In mainland China, I learned to be open to a relationship with Quyen, the woman who would eventually become my wife. And on a windswept and rainy morning on a remote rural hillside in my mother’s hometown, I embraced my family’s history and found my purpose at the foot of my grandparents’ headstone. This journey changed my life.

When I returned to America, I began to write about my experience and the words seemed to pour out of me. I completed the first draft of my book in 1997 and initiated countless revisions and an endless stream of submissions to agents and editors in the ensuing years. In 2011, an independent press in Florida finally offered me a contract and planned to release my memoir in 2013. I was ecstatic. Then on July 11, 2012, I received an e-mail from the publisher with the subject line “Unfortunate news.” The owner was closing her business at the end of the year for personal reasons and wouldn’t be able to publish my book after all. I went from euphoric to despondent.

I was working toward my MFA in Creative Writing at Antioch University Los Angeles at the time, so I shared the news with my mentor, Bernadette Murphy. She encouraged me to start submitting again and I did. I endured more rejections before finding Apprentice House, a student-run university press in Baltimore. Their program taught students how to operate a book publishing business by actually acquiring and producing their own titles. My work would help to educate future industry professionals. It was a perfect match.

My memoir will be out in October 2014. It’s been a long and often daunting road to publication, but as writers, it’s what we do. It’s why we embark on a path of self-discovery by putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard. I have not regretted a single moment of the process.

   
 

raymond m. wong on the Web

 

usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2010-06-18-column18_ST2_N.htm

www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIVT5pLTihA

smallprintmagazine.com/showcase/creative-nonfiction/foreign-by-raymond-wong/

www.raymondmwong.com

   
   

 

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