Today the GRAFFITI WALL is thrilled to introduce another On the Horizon Writer.
(Sure, I few of you Alleywalkers who have been with me since the beginning are thinking 'On-the-Horizon what?' It's a name I've dubbed talented writers who are on their way. I like thinking of them as what's to come.)
How many neuroscience majors who minor in creative writing do you know? Me. Not many. But I know one now, and you do too. Some of you know her as Lily Maiden.
Cathy Xie, an On the Horizon Writer
She's a college sophomore who loves her Superdog, Jenny. An aspiring neurosurgeon by day, young adult writer by night, she loves to play the piano and violin but despises celery. She also has a love of cows. Yup cows. When I asked her why, this is what she answered.
If you can narrow it down, what one ingredient in life turned your ear to writing?
Back pain. I’m not even kidding. I came to America from Shanghai, China when I was 3 years old. In order to trick me into learning English, my parents took me to the library and told me if I read enough books, I would get a gold library card. Even then I loved shiny things (I have magpie qualities), so I started reading, in bed, which led to leaving books in bed, which lead to hard lumps in weird positions under my back, which lead to back pain. After my mom discovered the bruises on my back and made sure I hadn’t been beat up by bullies, she confiscated my books. I suffered major withdrawal (as much as a 4 year old could suffer anyway), and I decided why not write my own stories? Paper was much softer on my back too. ^_~ By the time my back recovered and my books returned, I was thoroughly hooked.
It must be tough with your busy schedule to find that time to write.
Thank you for understanding that it’s hard! My week is not complete without a practice MCAT exam, a new revelation about the brain (which will be affirmed in a quiz of course), a piece of literature thoroughly examined (which will also be affirmed in a paper), and an exercise forcing me to think in a new way. In between all this, I relax by writing what I want. There. The truth is out. I use writing to calm down instead of drugs.
Any advice for your fellow college student writers?
Don’t hold back. There are many wonderful experiences in college that don’t include getting drunk, high, and locked in a cell. Join organizations, study abroad, get internships, take classes you’ve always wanted to take. Even though I’m a pre-med student (meaning my course curriculum is very rigid), I like reading and writing so I’m going to take those classes. If it’s something you enjoy, it doesn’t feel like a chore. This summer I’m going to be a student ambassador at the World’s Exposition in Shanghai, and I’m also an RA for my building. It is a lot on my plate, but I’ve met so many people and had so much fun on the way it’s well worth it. As a writer, I know all of these new experiences will make my writing more powerful.
Is your family involved in your writing process?
My parents are often too busy to read for pleasure, but they both support my writing efforts. They tell me to go for what I want, and remind me when I spread myself too thin to spend sometime chilling. My mother actually printed 5 copies of my 113k word, 400 paged manuscript for me, which saved me a hefty bundle at Kinko’s. Probably the most encouraging person of all is *gasp* my little brother. He’s a freshman in high school right now. I
forced asked him to read it, despite the female protagonist and occasional splashes of love. He called me back the very next day and told me he really liked it and when book 2 was coming out. Of course then I asked him his favorite part and he said “The fighting scenes.” Typical.
I have to tell you, when I read your goal in your bio I just fell in love with it. Can you share it with our readers and elaborate a tad more?
My dream is to be a neurosurgeon by day and a young adult writer at night, and then moonlight as a paraglider. I knew I would be good at surgery because in anatomy class, when everyone else including the big manly students looked like they were about to vomit, I was digging in (literally!) and going “COOL!!!” The brain has to be the most interesting organ in the body because we understand so little of it, yet it does so much. I want to be a doctor to help society, and I want to be a writer for myself. The writing is to keep me sane after hours of being submerged in guts, and I really enjoy paragliding. It’s more relaxed than sky diving, but I still get that adrenaline rush.
Phineas & Ferb? Granted, I love them, but why do you watch?
Hahaha, originally, I always had the TV on Disney channel when I was doing homework. One day, I heard a really catchy song … “Just the two of us, in an esophagus, time to get this mission rolling. Not gonna make a fuss, but that was the pancreas, let’s stop before we hit the colon.” And I was hooked. I loved how creative the songs were, and how ingenious Phineas and Ferb were. It’s just an overall hilarious show. ^_^
I know you received a partial request for your manuscript. Could you describe how that felt?
First came absolute ecstasy. I was really worried that I wouldn’t get any requests for partials, much less find representation, because my word count is pretty high for a YA (113,000). So when I saw the request, I screamed and happy danced for about 3 minutes. Then reality sank back in and I checked QueryTracker and AbsoluteWriteWaterCooler to see if the agent was the type to ask partials from everyone who could write decently, and then only ask for fulls from 1% of those partials. I know it’s a little bit of a downer way to think, but in the publishing business, I think it’s important to know the statistics. The agent was not that type, so I allowed myself a microscopic bubble of potential hope, and sent off the partial.
Thank you Cathy for joining us today, and for coloring the GRAFFITI WALL with your awesomesauce!!
This was my first interview, so thank you for making it super fun!
Want more of Cathy? Check out Cathy's Thoughts where she posts author interviews, writing advice, and general rants about life.