- Choose a topic. Pull up your notes app and reunite with the neglected thoughts in the dusty reaches of your brain. Cringe over an idea you jotted down before bed weeks ago. Don’t just scan your notes, squint hard so you don’t miss that phrase snuck between grapes ramen conditioner frosted flakes hand cream soy milk and fall 2020 Zoom links. Squint hard until your vision blurs. Until tears well up and the next thing you know it’s sophomore year you’re sobbing uncontrollably before your desk during the ending monologue in “Lady Bird.” Sometimes you think your life would be easier if you were a white girl from Sacramento. But instead of Saorise Ronan, you would be the best friend who struggles with her body image and daddy issues.
- Talk over your ideas. Attend a shift in the newsroom and meet with your friends, who are your editors. You complain about how Chipotle didn’t put lettuce in your order, which you think is a hate crime against Canadians (Disclaimer: the author is Chinese Canadian). Observe the romance that brews in the newsroom. Watch people discover their newfound love for writing and editing. Watch columnists’ eyes turn into crescent moons above their masks. Watch people approach another section’s table for candy and end up staying there for hours. Sometimes you are a part of the romance; sometimes you are merely a pedestrian that passes a late night diner, fascinated by the light and warmth inside which ultimately excludes you. That’s okay, you tell yourself, because you are just here to talk about ideas. Loneliness envelops you but it is only temporary, because an editor/friend finally finishes his homework and is traversing single-digit temperatures to hear about your first column. You shit on the month of January together and joke about not having a work life balance. Still, your idea weighs on your tongue like a Jolly Rancher that’s too big to swallow.
- Scroll through Tinder, the app you told everyone that you downloaded for journalistic purposes, whatever that means. Close the Google Docs tab and take out your phone. Be sure to turn your brightness down to the lowest setting and tilt your screen away from the people sitting near you in Trotter. You swipe left at the sight of men in her first photo or “Black Lives Matter” or “Feminism” in her list of “passions,” because you are tired of people who wear politics like an accessory. After almost developing thumb arthritis, you land on “Movies” “Coffee” “Cats” “Hiking.” You go through her selfies and judge her top Spotify artists. A pop-up notification obscures her eyes, “How’s the piece going?” You do not respond.
- Consume a lot of boba. According to your Snackpass Wrapped, you were embarrassingly among UniTea’s top 1% of customers in the past year. “I will be living dangerously close to three boba places next year,” you joked when your mom picked you up from the airport for winter break. “Bubble tea is disgusting,” you recall her responding. You think about the internalized racism and self-hatred she has imparted, and the years it took to unlearn it all. How in every story you write, there is a mother, even though you can barely recall the last time you shared a casual conversation. You think about how writing, especially for Michigan in Color, is an act of resistance, to her and to the beliefs she stands for. You wonder if there will come a day when she reads your articles. If she will read through each line with a Chinese dictionary open on her phone. If she will finally understand your sadness, and then you will regain your mother.
- Next, pan-fry kimchi pancakes after midnight. Because kimchi pancakes are fucking delicious.
- Now, it’s time to ask your editor for an extension. Wait till the last minute to text her because, just hours before the deadline, you believed you could finish. You were wrong. She graciously grants you some extra time, but now you are more than terrified. Capitalism has made you internalize that time is linear, thus more time must equal a better product. So exit the window and tell yourself that inspiration will come in a few days; it won’t.
- Type. Take up the blank space with your words. Let your joy and grief spill like a broken faucet. Recall the reason why you started writing in the first place, when your story was read aloud before the class in 3rd grade. Or when you performed self-directed skits for your family during kindergarten. Because what is writing if not thinking and scraping and thinking and scraping and rehearsing in your mind 1000 times before even typing out the first letter? Remember the people you are writing for. Write for your friends who call you during breakdowns in between classes. Write for your friends who can recite the entirety of Lisa’s rap in “Ice Cream.” Write for your friends who took a shot to every homoerotic moment in Red Velvet’s “Bad Boy.” Write for your friends’ smeared mascara write for your friends’ couple rings write for your friends’ avocado salad recipe write for your friends’ Snackpass gifts write for your friends’ curated Spotify playlist write for the people who stay with you and cheer and clap until your editor hits “Publish.”
- Go back to your friends. For they are the reason why you write at all.
MiC Columnist Lola Yang can be reached at email@example.com.