The man who inspired.

Caught somewhere between wanting to express and not reveal everything, and armed with the reserved emotion armour, that was me. Perhaps, this has not changed—not entirely. Finally, I settled down with a blog for myself. This time, I told myself, you are not going to delete this one and disappear like you did before. Over the last months saturated with unprecedented global lockdowns and escalating uncertainties, I was struggling with a massive writer’s block. Finally, in Feb 2021, I was debating on a writing hiatus. Anxiety and depression was catching up. I tried to ignore the discomfort as I kept busy with freelance writing and art commissions, but the lack of clarity in my interests forced me to come to terms that I cannot be perfect. There was no such thing as perfection.

This distressed me. Alarming, for a lot of reasons. It’s odd, and I can only summarize that I am a perfectionist. It’s not as beautiful as it implies. There’s really a lot that goes behind the scenes. Whenever a piece is published, that’s what an individual sees—a finished piece. What they don’t see is the number of times I edit a piece, hate it, start over, hate it again and realise my first draft was the best. Managing my blog has funnily but not surprisingly made me a little more insane than I had ever been. But again, I overthink and overanalyze. I beat myself up when I feel that my writing isn’t thought-provoking enough, when it doesn’t give my readers something to think about throughout the week. I don’t know why it is that way but it just is.

On the evening of March 9, 2021, I sat in my room hiding my loneliness behind a glass of beer. Suddenly moved by the special melancholy that comes from being alone, I placed my manuscripts away from view. My laptop was switched on, and I decided to read something, anything. Call it a fate, or whatever magical coincidence that you believe, and this blog just found me at the right time. Grey in background, and white were the fonts. The words read “Hollis Porter is a fiction writer in Hong Kong”. So Hollis Porter is his name. He had a certain way with words. “Enigma” was the title of his post, The first piece I ever read by him—It was so beautiful there. Vivid and raw. I didn’t ever want to come back to reality while I was getting lost in his writing. Emotions run free when you’re enraptured like that. He had allowed me into the dream of his writing, made familiar by his sincerity and human flaws. And each new post then, I would wait eagerly, for they would infect me with newer streams of insight and artistry. For it was in his words, I saw visions—colours of vulnerability, shades of poignancy, and the free strokes of freedom.

So what does this mean for me then? Gratitude. I was grateful for what he had to offer. It’s not often you come across creatives such as him. I think much of writing is about creating a dialogue with the world around you. The settings, the people, the collective thinking. When I was relying on my own memory and experience in what I wrote, there was a barrier that held me back. In the beginning I always tried to keep reassuring thoughts flowing in my head. But I slowly realised I wasn’t giving myself space to breathe, to live, and I grasped for solace. And to have this pleasure of reading his words, and relate to them in some ways, it was therapy.

I took a moment to unwind. Started to read more from other people. Now I am writing every day—not because I have to, but because it feels right for me. I think what Hollis had allowed me was to stop time, and in that moment when time stopped, it allowed me for reflection, both on my writing and my life. I essentially left him a message the very next day. That message underwent a lot of editing because I didn’t want to make a mistake for first impressions—Heck, I was bloody nervous. But I had to let this person know what his writing did for me. It justified a lot of my emotions and legitimized my desire to write about what I was experiencing in my own life. His words, they would dance on your lips and evoke an emotional specificity of that said piece. It’s something that I chase in what I write.

Whenever Hollis releases a new post, I would think to myself, “This is the best damn thing I’ve ever read” and then I am proven wrong with his next writing every time. I think most of us can agree that a lot of our writing comes from a deeply interiorized and personal space. So I can’t help but wonder sometimes, what was his writing process for his antiblog like? There was so much chaos in his writing, yet it felt like there was always something beguiling to take away from. He immerses his readers in hauntingly sweet tapestries of word, blurring the lines between unreality and reality, allowing one to revel in the alluring haze between asleep and awake. What’s more impressive is, the antiblog series was a pure and cathartic journey that flowed fluidly from beginning to end. His way with details either, it’s never too little, never too much. He employs them tastefully in his thoughts and writing respectively.

It’s not easy most of the time to be reading his writing due to its graphic nature, but there is real beauty to be found in knowing that one can face their demons in reading and writing. Now if something made me afraid or uncomfortable to write, I gravitated towards it. I started writing honestly—kind of like an experiment that allows me to talk to my anxieties, and then lets me see beyond myself, as I learn to access my situation with a more present vision. I have to add, while serious in writing, his natural gaiety knows no bounds too, and I am most privileged to be connected with him. And after reading “Life By The Sea And Out Of Time” and “Life Under The Sea. And Back In Time“, I am inclined to believe that when a person’s work has communicated to me any measure of something valued, to be remembered or recognised in the streets I have walked, then they are a success within very limited qualifications; that is, we have already met.

It cannot be expressed enough that I am constantly humbled that my amazingly talented writer friends and readers are willing to read what I write. It grants me a sense of gratification regardless of the outcome, and I hope to hold on to that feeling. As I rest my fingers on my keyboard and begin a new piece, I would think of what he said to me, “Take what you want from my writing—it’s your own interpretation that counts. Your own reality.” I have written this post for him, he didn’t know, but he does now. He will know who was the man who inspired this, who inspired me. Some people read Harry Potter; I read Hollis Porter. Thank you, Hollis.


From what I have gathered from his writings, he is open to life, and continues to learn. He is a well into which the sweet waters of experience and knowledge keep falling. But more than that, he is a writer who is unapologetic of who he is. There's no doubt about it. For those of you curious about his works now, you can find them at https://www.hollisporter.com

You are a writer.

Sometimes unknowingly, doubts make us feel comfortable because we count ourselves out before attempting to do something. Just like you know how much you believe something is possible, it makes you uncomfortable because now that means you will have to do it.


If you are an aspiring writer, stop aspiring to be a writer because when you write, you are a writer. Start writing now and push the writing culture forward. Even if that means writing 500 words a day or 5 pages a day, you are still putting something out there. It doesn’t hurt to build that mentality and know that things will not go your way but you are going to push nonetheless, be open-minded, get out of your comfort zone, and talk to other writers and learn from each other rather than being on defense mode that your writing will never be good enough.


Yes, it is going to be difficult. I thought how tough it would be for me, especially hailing from a small town and raised in an Asian household. It’s tough because a lot of times when you say what you want to do, a lot of people including parents don’t think you are going to be successful or make a decent living out of it, particularly when it comes down to anything arts-related. It’s tough because you are supposed to be a doctor, engineer, or businessperson. It’s tough because they want you to be someone you don’t want to be… In their mind, it is set because they are fearful.


Now imagine if you told them and they knew that you are going to do great, they probably wouldn’t tell you that you will fail. This holds true for me with an Asian background myself. I can see why as our parents, they were coached from an era of Asia where they didn’t get a lot of chances in life. So their mind is pretty much set that, you only get one chance in this life. 


If you don’t make it, you don’t make it.


A day before I packed my things to begin my career as a writer, a friend told me, “Why would you quit a sales job that could’ve given you everything just to be a writer? You can’t possibly make a living as a writer, no one ever survives being one. You won’t make it.” 


I remember looking straight at her in the face, I wasn’t smiling. I just said, “All I am hearing is you telling me what I cannot do. You’re not telling me what I can do. You’re not giving me a solution about how I can accomplish to be a writer. All you do is spend all your breath telling me what I cannot do and how I am never going to make it. What are you doing with your life?”


I didn’t see a reason to continue the conversation.

I didn’t want to have a person who constantly tells me what they think I can’t do.

I turned away from her, right there and then. 

I never looked back.


There are so many people who are going to tell you your limit. They don’t even know you. Only you know your limits, and you know that by taking action. If you just keep doing what you keep doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’ve been getting. I guess it’s fine if you’re okay with what you’ve been getting, then by all means, carry on. But if you’re not alright with what you’re doing and what you’ve been getting, are you really not going to do something about it?


When you consider your fears of writing out of your comfort zone, ask yourself: Does the thought of not being to do what you love hurts you? Are you going to regret not doing this? In one year from now, will you wish you had written something? Or when you are on your deathbed, will you be alright with the fact that you didn’t step out of your comfort zone and do the thing your heart so desperately wanted you to do?


And if your answer is “Yes, I’m alright in giving up my dreams,” then I will have to ask, why are you still reading this? Because you haven’t given up. You decide what’s important to you and if you honour that or not. You decide if you are a writer.

Back to writing.

And Virginia Woolf said,

Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.

Writing for the most part, to me, was both delightful and stressful. Thankfully, the delight outweighed the stress. I have this strong love-hate relation with writing where constant merry-go-round of inspirations coming in and out have compelled me to confront what it means to be a writer. I could be a content writer, a journalist, an author, a blogger, and that still makes me a writer, regardless of what people have to say. Each piece that I’ve put out is a form of expression and if it makes people feel some time of way about it, it is art in its own right.

Though I love writing and started out with reading fan-fictions for ideas, I never got into writing fan-fictions but I did enjoy hearing the stories that my peers wrote for their own pleasure. College was memorable, I met people who would write for plays, songs, and poetry. I would sit with these people for hours, see their expressions as they describe their characters, the flow of their stories, and we would then write about anything our imagination brought us in that moment. It was beautiful to be able to not care how absurd the stories sounded and how they wrote it.

Yet, the more inspired I was, the more fearful I became. As I grew older and started making a living as a copywriter and web content writer, I have been more conscious in what I have written. This too, falls back to my current work-in-progress, Yung & Jess — a coming of age story where the protagonist, Yung, who is struggling to fit in a world of not only prejudice and firm standards, but even serious legal sanctions as she falls for a woman named Jess. This friendship turned into romance creates a love and longing between these two individuals, one that is genuine and earnest, especially when their inclination and acts are deemed `unspeakable’, and Yung’s future, career and family ties can be at stake.

I would like to be clear on the path that I am with as I write this book, but there’s always a fear at the back of my mind fearing the readers will not understand or think there is no direction in it. Ironically, I am also terrified at them understanding it and being able to encode the messages behind certain paragraphs that hold my deepest of emotions. To a certain extent, I believe each writer have dealt with these feelings where we write from experiences, but not exact experiences. I have too many unwritten stories and while some managed to be on paper, they bring back unpleasant memories of my trauma. Pieces that I have written at 4.00 am in the morning, in the darkest times of my life, where my fingers came to life and typed words that were breathed in with vehemence; where I my tears would drip on the keyboard and I was relieved towards the end.

Now when those scenarios replay vividly in my memory, I realize that I was in such a dark place and I still am, but writing gave me a voice, it became the voice I was looking for in my state of brokenness and emptiness. More importantly, the old pieces of writing allows me to reflect on myself and remind me how far I’ve come. I have gone through a lot, and I will continue to face adversity and keep thriving. I’ll laugh at the scars and bruises and smile later on when I am healed. To say the least, I look forward to this journey in writing my book, Yung & Jess.