As you may know, one of the reasons for hitching up Bambi and traveling is to meet people and write. Especially writing about the American experience from an Asian American woman’s perspective.
There was one point in my life when I thought the life of a “writer” was not possible for me. I had no experience, no real talent and I was conditioned to think I was supposed to work in an office job of some sort.
Years ago, I read one of the most influential books in my life, The Joy Luck Club. In that book, I saw myself, my Mom, my Grandma, woven through the characters Amy Tan created. And with the complexity and beauty of the book, what she stirred up in me was a desire to understand my heritage and dissect my relationship with my Mom.
Fast forward to today, at Santa Clara University, I heard Amy Tan talk about writing (and life.) She emanated wisdom and creativity. She said she did not have “talent” when she first began to write. Even when The Joy Luck Club made it to the bestseller’s list, it took her a total of nine months to realize she had written something worthwhile. She said, “If you ever feel your confidence shaken, look to me to give you courage.”
I’m not easily unnerved. I consider myself a confident person. Yet, at the end of the lecture, I waited in a long line, gripping The Kitchen God’s Wife, my second favorite book of hers. Butterflies in my stomach zipped around, making me feel sick. When I reached Ms. Tan, all I remember is saying “thank you” about five times and I walked away from the table in a fog. And then I opened the book and saw:
“To Yon, Joy & luck — Amy Tan.” I felt as though she broke a champagne bottle on the boat…or in my case, the trailer.
Ms. Amy Tan.