Why I Write

​On a fateful Thanksgiving weekend in 1999, I stumbled on this website, VIETMEDIA, which changed my life forever. (The site is no longer in service.) On this Vietnamese website, I was able to read and write. I felt an amazing connection with the Vietnamese netters through this community. For the first time in my life, I could feel the human connection, warm and gentle. I needed it. From that weekend until now, I have been passionate about writing. It is therapeutic for me and has helped me heal the deep wound I had inside. It helped me open up and release the intense feelings that had built up within me for so long. It was the door that opened up to bring in light from the outside world for a confined prisoner who had not seen a single ray from the sun for many years. ​When I first began to write, it was only as a pastime, but I soon realized that it meant the world to me to share my stories with the public. I decided to become a professional and self-taught writer in Vietnamese. I only had a few years of formal schooling in Vietnam, yet I never learned how to write a composition or a story. I enjoyed reading Vietnamese literature very much. After a short time, I was able to write poetry and stories in Vietnamese. It came naturally to me. I loved it so much! Whenever I had the chance to sit down and create a story, I felt as if my life was worth living. Through writing, I started making friends from my Vietnamese writers’ group. Now that I had some friends, I felt so loved and happy for the first time. They had similar backgrounds and interests as me. To this day, we still have a solid relationship. Six years into writing in Vietnamese, I decided to write in English in order to reach a bigger audience. This was a very painful transition because I had to stop writing in the language I loved so much. Writing was no longer a pastime; it became a career that I want to build on for as long as I live. The English language was still very alien to me. My expressions were very awkward because I didn’t read, write, or speak English often enough. The moment I started the transition, I wanted to quit. I asked myself, Who am I kidding here? It took me almost ten years to build up my self-confidence and skills. To practice writing, I translated stories and passages from English to Vietnamese and Vietnamese to English and also wrote in a daily journal. One of the books that I translated was a prayer book with a prayer for depression in it. It hit so close to home. Prior to this, I did not have a name for my problem. I just knew that I felt blue a lot. When I read the symptoms of depression, I recognized almost everything about my problem: anxiety, hopelessness, loss of interest, mood swings, sadness, excessive crying, social isolation, repeatedly going over thoughts, and more. As I was translating the symptoms and prayers for depression late one evening, I cried so hard because I couldn’t believe that I had suffered from it all my life without knowing. The words of the prayers as I asked God for intervention to help this poor soul were so powerful. I felt each word echo to heaven as I begged God to rescue this dying soul. Suddenly, I saw a bright light, so real, so powerful, that entered my body in a millisecond. I shuddered from this powerful force. From that night on, I truly found my purpose in life — to shed some light in