It’s been five years since I’ve graduated from the Girls Write Now mentee class of 2015, and the way I interact with the world will always be informed by my time with this organization.
Girls Write Now made a leader out of me, after giving me the opportunity to be on the Youth Board and host events like the first Cringe Fest or CHAPTERS, a monthly reading series (now known as GWNLive).
As a mentee, I found my voice and realized the immense power in earnestness and truth-telling in my writing. I also found a community in Girls Write Now that was present even when I was halfway around the world in Hong Kong, because my mentor, Stacy, will always check in via text on how I’m faring emotionally during the protests. Because of Girls Write Now, I also found my calling in book publishing.
It was the summer of 2016. I was interning at Girls Write Now, and, between interviewing new mentees and researching grants, I was invited to a Lunch and Learn at Penguin Random House. I was starstruck as I stepped foot into the lobby, welcomed by first edition books that came alive in gold—Toni Morrison’s Sula, breathing the same air as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. And then there were the talented team of editors and marketers at Penguin Random House. I will forever remember the way they kept using the word champion to talk about their jobs. They wanted to champion great books, books that spoke to the diversity and complexity of our society, and, as a young Chinese American woman who had grown up loving books that didn’t seem to see her, let alone love her back, this mission spoke to my soul.
Now, four years after that Lunch and Learn, after graduating from Wellesley College with honors and a creative writing thesis, after studying abroad at Oxford and kindling a passion for post-colonial
literature, and after a brief stint teaching English literature at a university in Hong Kong, I never quite let go of that idea of being a champion for diverse and representative books. And just a few weeks ago, I landed what feels like the publishing job of my dreams—a marketing assistant position at Dutton, Plume and Tiny Reparations, a new imprint led by the brilliant comic, actor and writer—and Girls Write Now Agent of Change—Phoebe Robinson, dedicated to highlighting diverse and unique voices.
It feels like I’ve come full circle to work at Penguin Random House which helps produce Girls Write Now’s annual anthology, where I was first published as a young writer.
After receiving this offer, I looked up the PRH offices, for a glimpse of that beautiful lobby. By chance, one of the photos led me to this Girls Write Now blog post that recounts that Lunch and Learn, and I was taken back to this day, where I am fresh faced and wide-eyed and am just now hearing the words “champion” and “representation” for the first time.
I am reminded of how Girls Write Now champions budding writers like me, amplifies our voices and gives us a community and a wealth of opportunities for us to figure out what we can make of our passion. And I know if you decide to support our community, you will be part of Girls Write Now’s empowering and lasting impact.