About Raymond M. Wong:
Raymond M. Wong earned the Eloise Klein Healy Scholarship and the MFA in Creative Writing at Antioch University Los Angeles. His writing has appeared in USA Today, U-T San Diego, Chicken Soup for the Soul, San Diego Family, Small Print Magazine, and Segue. His memoir, I’m Not Chinese: The Journey from Resentment to Reverence, was published in October 2014 by Apprentice House.
He lives in San Diego with his wife, Quyen, and their children, Kevin and Kristie.
What inspires you to write?
I’m fascinated by people — why they do the things they do. Even when I’m reading science fiction, I am interested in the characters, their struggles and motivations. So when I write, I write about people.
Tell us about your writing process.
I write in the morning, usually from 4:30-6am before the rest of the family wakes. I generally do a first draft in longhand; there’s something about the flow of putting pen to paper that feels different than typing. The first sentence usually tells me if I’m onto something. As an example, the opening line of my memoir is “The first thing you need to know is I’m Not Chinese.” This line pulled me into the character and gave me a narrator I wanted to follow.
I keep things pretty free flowing in the first draft by not censoring anything. I’m not worried about quality of writing, only getting something down. I usually try for at least three pages of longhand every morning.
Once I’ve finished a first draft, then the editing process begins — usually with cutting a lot of extraneous material. I will go through the draft numerous times until I have the tone and story I want to keep. The length of this process varies, but I usually go through a draft at least a dozen times before I feel it’s ready to submit.
When I worked on my memoir, I was fortunate to be a member of a writing group led by a woman who was a superb reader/editor. I also received feedback from the other writers, and this was extremely beneficial.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I’m generally writing nonfiction at present, but even in memoirs and essays, the characters have a voice I listen to. In narrative, an author needs to have empathy for the characters to be able to see them clearly and “hear” their voices.
What advice would you give other writers?
First, write a story that interests you. If the story ensnares you, then it could very well capture the interest of readers. Each writer has a unique perspective and story so don’t worry about being different. I wouldn’t be able to write your story because I haven’t lived your life, and the reverse is also true. Only you can write the stories you were put on this earth to write.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I wanted to go with a traditional publisher, perhaps because I was looking for a sense of validation — that an editor would select my story to bring to the world. This process takes a lot more time but that sense of validation was important to me.
Self-publishing is definitely a viable option for many writers, and I encourage people to fully explore the pros and cons of each to see what works for them. I really can’t speak to self-publishing because I haven’t gone down that road, but how an author promotes him/herself is important whether one is traditionally published or self-published.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It’s an exciting time, filled with possibilities. E-books are a big part of the publishing landscape. The cost and profit margin of producing digital books makes this appealing to publishers, and the convenience of downloading a book in seconds through a tablet or E-reader makes this process a hit with consumers. Not to mention the fact that people can have hundreds of titles in their own digital library right in the palm of their hand.
I’m kind of old school and like the feel of a real book in my hands, but those paperbacks and hardcovers take up a lot of shelf space and they’re a bear to move!
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?: Memoir, nonfiction, essays, book reviews, journalistic pieces, and some short stories.
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
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