Writer’s Spark

My dad and my daughter
My dad and my daughter

There is much that inspires me to write but if you were to ask me to narrow it down to a single genesis point where my spark comes from, I would have to say it was my father. However, I would also need to add a footnote that this came into my consciousness after three odd decades of being largely oblivious to it. You see my dad was the type of father who allowed me to find my own way and this included making a ton of mistakes (a lot of the time the same ones) over and over again. He would only ever provide advice if I asked for it otherwise I had free rein to stumble in the darkness and compound my pitfalls with deeper ones. In truth, it was a double edged sword. I sometimes wished that my dad had taken more of a hand in the direction I was taking (especially when the path would lead to some painful lessons indeed) but other times, I was thankful that he allowed me the freedom to discover who I was and what I wanted in life.

For as long as I can remember, my father has been first and foremost a scholar. He obtained his PhD in political science at the University of California, Riverside and has dedicated his life to achieving Taiwan independence through democracy. He is a fighter of human rights, a defender for the working class and most importantly listens (I mean really listens). He’ll respect your point of view even if he disagrees and is the first to admit that no political system is perfect.

Through my childhood, teenage and adult years, I have seen my father accomplish many things, more than what I can list here. He has published numerous books on Asian politics and been the advisor for the former Taiwanese President Chen Shui Bian.

But it was his office that I am remember most fondly. Walking into his humble sanctuary, “the place where he writes”, you were surrounded by shelves filled with books, newspapers and magazines. It was like entering a library filled with political knowledge, philosophies, histories and ideas. There in the middle was his large desk with jars full of writing instruments, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, textbooks and a couple of photo frames of the family and my father would be sitting in his leather chair reading, writing or contemplating. What he read and wrote was obvious even if it was all in Chinese (i.e. politics, governments and world affairs). However, what he contemplated I never really asked. As a kid, I observed him, one hand on his chest, the other hand waving through the air like a music conductor, writing invisible words, eyes sometimes closed, sometimes open, thinking, always thinking… I’m sure about politics… but also I wonder about other things. He has a collection of Asian paintings with Chinese poetry written on it. He read Confucius, Robert Frost, Percy Shelley and other creative thinkers, which I have no doubt helped shape his views on society and humanity. I’m sure he pondered about life and the world we live in, not just the politics that surround it.

Seeing all this, you would have thought I’d jump into writing as soon as I learned the alphabet but here is the irony. I’m not into politics. I don’t hate it, I just find its existence unfortunate but admittedly necessary in order for the world not to fall into anarchy (and ‘anarchy’ itself a political ideal is not necessarily bad if we could all get along with each other but the reality is we don’t). Perhaps seeing my father as a political avenger for human rights with pen (his metaphorical sword) in hand was enough of the ‘real world’ for the both of us, so I never considered writing as a career.

Nevertheless, I now know (three decades on) that I love writing and I read fiction and speculative fiction because I get enough of the ‘real world’ every day and I owe this genesis from my father.

What is your spark? Where do you believe the genesis of that spark came from? Feel free to email or leave a comment and let me know.

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