Louisa Jones Dang

I was nine years old when I first realized that I enjoyed writing. My teacher had given the class an unusual writing assignment—to write about two men who had disappeared from a deserted island during a thunderstorm. The men were never found, and to this day, no one knows if they’re still alive or how they disappeared. I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, except that I was really excited about “solving” the mystery of the missing men. I remember putting myself in the men’s shoes and trying to imagine how it would feel to be trapped all alone on an island, surrounded by torrential rain, thunder and lightening. When we’d finished, the teacher read my story to the class, and I felt especially proud; I’m not sure if it was because I’d put so much effort into the story, or if it was the idea (in my head, at least) that my classmates were hanging on every word until the end.
Since that day, I’ve continued to write—for therapy, work, and for pleasure. When my mother and I left Scotland to come to North Carolina in 1987, I began keeping a journal in a tiny Snoopy notebook. I wrote about how much I missed my friends in Scotland, about the strange questions American kids asked me at school and how everyone was so much older-looking and taller than me. After earning my degree in English, I worked as a reporter and then as a technical writer, but neither was as fulfilling as writing fiction. I decided to go back to university to earn my Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing. The writing classes forced me to show my stories to other people, and while that was scary, it was also great fun to discover that someone was actually enjoying my stories! Today, I’m busy working on a collection of short stories for my thesis and am teaching creative writing classes to local writers.

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