DON’T (…A word of advice from Ang Lee)


Good Morning Readers! (sung to the tune of “Good Morning Baltimore”)

Oh, oh, oh woke up today feeling the way I always do…Okay, we’re done with that. I doubt anyone actually wants to hear me sing (although I did do theater and choir for 6-7 years). I digress…as I sit here, beside my beautiful Autumn view, it comes to my attention that I haven’t posted in a while. Sure, I’ve posted things but I haven’t written a post in a while. So here it goes, a word of advice from Ang Lee.

Precisely one week ago today, Ang Lee prepared to take the stage along with James Schamus for a conversation, at my college & open to the public, with the two film elites. As the conversation came to the end, Mr. Lee was asked the question that I’m sure not just myself had been waiting for: Do you have any advice for young artists?

Mr. Lee laughs (I might be flourishing this a bit), shuffling in his seat before grounding himself. He crosses his hands, leaning forward a bit then, hands flailing in the air yelled “DON’T”.

Don’t? – I’m sure this was the question on the mind of most in the audience. I came at 9am on a Saturday to hear Ang freaking Lee speak only for him to say Don’t? Um, no. Not okay.

The commentator grins, gritting his teeth before letting out a shaky laugh. “Come one, Ang,” he says, trying to butter Mr. Lee up.

Mr. Lee clears his throat before crossing his hands once more. “No, seriously. if you really need motivation, this [industry/creative lifestyle] isn’t for you. I could try tell you more but what’s helpful to one person might not help someone else. Some of the best people I’ve ever mentored where the ones who listened to me then did almost nothing I told them to. Those who are most determined don’t need advice. They’ll do it anyway.”

The crowd laughs, shuffles in their sit, grins shakily before Mr. Schamus “comes to the rescue” to impart so vaguely funny, “actual” advice. Mr. Lee twists his lips as he listens to his friend and co-worker. Those of us looking for more, tune in to Mr. Schamus however others, we realize that Mr. Lee is in fact correct.

I left that auditorium hearing the one word I needed to hear. DON’T 

Maybe that’s why so many authors, when giving advice always say but this is what worked for me, take it with a grain of salt. Maybe that’s why all creative beings can point to a time/times when they felt drawn to their field, like they couldn’t stop, like Ang Lee said, they knew it was they were meant to do.

So as I stood outside on that brisk, sunless day, I knew right then and there that I would be a writer for life. Because at that moment when Ang Lee said don’t, while on the outside, I laughed a bit, on the inside I said, “I’ll show you.” That, my dears, is the mark of a true artist.

It’s funny how you can never be truly certain until you are challenged. I’ve always liked writing but in my short twenty years I’ve already gone through stages of loving, hating, not…writing. I’m good at so many other things. I’m going to Wellesley College. I’ve thought so many times that isn’t this a waste of an amazing education? Shouldn’t someone else, who, instead of writing, does the (million pages of) reading for her classes? (Nope. It isn’t. In fact, my life, my academics, it all inspires my writing. I just got an amazing story idea/expansion of an old idea, the other day in one of my Political Theory courses. Booyah!) However, it wasn’t until I was challenged by Ang Lee himself, that I realized not only my potential but my commitment to being a writer. And yes, like any other job/career/lifestyle, it is a commitment. If you’re not going to commit–not necessarily every day–then how can you ever reach a point where you’re able to produce something you’re proud to share with the world.

This is going to be a long journey. I don’t think I realized just how long until recently. It took Ang Lee six years. Even if my book(s) was published tomorrow, it would be a long journey. Publishing is a process not a single isolated event.

So to all those “struggling” out there, I raise my mug of cooled down green tea to you. Don’t do it. It’s not worth you time.

…now go out there and show the world what you’re made of 🙂

Whimsically Yours,


Oh and as to what Ang Lee said about diversity in hollywood…”people need to not wait for the system, we need to take charge.”

…Look for their (Lee & Schamus) new movie on Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali (yeah, that’s what I just said…it’s going to be life changing)  coming soon (as in they didn’t tell us when).

And don’t forget to stop by DiversifYA for their DiversiTheme Roundtable on Diversity & Sexuality (featuring moi & a handful of amazing writers)! Part One & Part Two are now up!



One thought on “DON’T (…A word of advice from Ang Lee)

  1. DON’T.
    That’s actually quite good advice. If you can stand not to write, then maybe your priority shouldn’t be writing. I know I’ve gone long spaces without writing, but I always come back to it. And it’s telling that he said “don’t” and not “can’t.” “Can’t” means you don’t have a choice. “Don’t” implies a choice.

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