Reflections on 'Writing on America': A Journey of Connections and Writing
I would have missed this memorable "Writing on America" event this past weekend if my one-way ticket to Vietnam in September had gone through. I would have missed seeing the people I have known for over a decade, missed their jokes, laughter, and their beautiful presence for the last time.
Though I don’t often speak much in the Vietnamese Writer Group Vietbut, I feel even closer to each member than my own relatives. Reading their stories, struggles, and experiences on paper, and meeting them in person makes it more intimate.
For example, Dr. Anthony Cao, whom I affectionately call Anh Hưng, has been my inspiration and admiration for over a decade. I admire his kindness, hard work, public service, multitude of talents, and his enduring love for his sweetheart of over 25 years. Observing their affectionate interactions, how he serves her food or she whispers in his ear, it's more than a long-term love story; it's a lifelong bond. Sitting next to Anh Hưng last night brought back years of admiration I've had for him and his wife, though I've never conveyed it to them personally.
Some older members have passed away, and others couldn't attend due to illness. I joined the writer's club in my early forties, and now, in a blink of an eye, I'm in my fifties. Much has changed in fifteen years, but my love for writing remains unwavering. Over the past decade, I've focused solely on writing in English, hoping to reach broader audiences. With technology, anyone can read translated versions on Google.
I felt proud to be Vietnamese at the "Writing on America" event last night. Our books, along with those of thousands of writers, are now in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. Each book features about 40-45 authors and spans approximately 600 pages. This year marks the 23rd anniversary of "Writing on America - Viết Về Nước Mỹ." I have a small collection of these books. They contain stories of Vietnamese people living in America, sharing their true stories of struggles and triumphs. The first generation's immigration to America is the toughest, especially without family support.
This year alone, I've written about fifty thousand words on America, capturing my ups and downs, lows and highs almost daily. My greatest hope is that one day my books will sit beside the "Writing on America" collection in the Library of Congress.
From an early age in my twenties, I aimed to make a name for myself. I've never cared much for material possessions, but I do hope not to be forgotten when my physical body is no longer on earth. I am grateful to live in alignment with my desires.
You only have one life; make it count. ♥️
Crystal H. Vo
November 27, 2023