Wei Ting reads at Megaphone’s Voices of the Street 2013 launch in April.
On her inspiration to begin creative writing in English
"Around the time I wrote ‘Searching’, I was looking for affordable housing and sustainable employment - for the longest time, I was focusing on looking for work because I was attacked at [my previous job] and that made it feel not very safe to continue in that area. So I felt I needed a change of career, maybe in business administration or office administration. But I was actually failed by an English teacher, based just on my grammar. She was so anal - my commas, full stops, and semicolons were not in the right places, so she failed me in that program.
"I had spent so much time getting my application for EI together, but because of failing that English class - and I have a mental health condition called General Anxiety Disorder, so I get very antsy mouch more easily that other people - after three months of that, it was a total collapse. I left with this feeling that my English really sucks, and I lost confidence. Anytime you lose a job, or anything you have so much emotional investment in, you feel this sense of failure. But I’m very stubborn [laughs], I want to prove myself, and I’ve always enjoyed writing but I’ve never had that confidence. You know, English is my second language - and with that experience, I felt I needed to do something to prove to her, ‘my English is good!’ [laughs]"
On Megaphone’s community writing workshops
"Usually when you’re not working full time, you don’t have a lot of financial resources, so you end up hanging out at community centres instead of going out, because that ends up costing a lot of money, you know, $4 or $5 for a cup of tea. So in accessing community resources, I looked at that [Megaphone] writing workshop at the Gathering Place for quite a while but never had the energy or focus to do it, until I lost my job and my funding. That’s when I said, ‘okay, maybe it’s time to hang out with these writers.’ At my last job, I always felt squashed down, like it didn’t matter what I said. So I feel this this is a way of expressing my voice, you know, of making noise, like using a megaphone!
"The first time I went to that workshop, we had some writing prompts, and everything just poured out of me for ten minutes. And then I read it to the class, and thought ‘oh, what name should I put?’ I like playing with words sometime, and I remembered hearing in an old cartoon about ‘a lady in waiting’ and I thought ‘Wei Ting’ - it’s just so fitting, you know? I’m still waiting [laughs]."
Searching for meaning and searching
for a platform to stand on: sustainable
employment, affordable housing.
Do I have to be down, out, and under, in order
to qualify for any assistance?
Take a number, fill in this referral form -
take a number and apply on-line - specify
your location you want to work in - take a
number and call,
Leave your name and number - take a
number, leave a message - someone will
get back to you -
Did you fax it to the right number? Did you fax
it to the right person? - take a number -
Did you do the follow up? - No, we can’t tell
you your information on your file -take a
Ah she is on holiday, ah, he no longer works
for us -
No, you can’t apply to this course - take a
number - leave a message -
the manager will come back to you -
Searching for food, money to buy food,
searching for job, so that, I can have money to
pay rent -
Searching for meaning - take a number -
he will talk to you - I will talk to him - you
shouldn’t have to go through this -
Searching for the status of your housing
application - your file had been de-activated
for the past 11 months - searching for my
- the insanity of searching for sustainable
employment - searching for affordable
housing - phone this number - Michael -
St- Peter’s 604-
562-85xx - phone 604-623-55xx store
manager - Harry Porter - store number 4679
- Bravo! - DIRECT PHONE NUMBER 604-625-
Before I bid farewell to my folks back home
and came to this great land of opportunities: I
was searching for a land of equal opportunity,
Where women are treated equal as men -
road paved with gold - the land of equal
opportunities - take a number!
A land of great sustainable employment - so
that I can feed myself, my family … well, take
a number …
Somewhere in the land of OZ -
It’s been 20 years, my kids had grown up - I
asked myself what am I searching for? Am I
holding the wrong end of the stick -
Holding on the wrong line, wrong country,
wrong planet, I am searching for the exit of
this madness …
Wei Ting is a participant in Megaphone’s community writing workshops. Her piece “Searching” appears in our 2013 Voices of the Street literary anthology, on sale now for only $5 from your favourite vendor.
This spring Megaphone needs to raise $12,000 to keep the voices of the Downtown Eastside strong. Please show your support for our writing workshop programs by making a donation (through Hope in Shadows) here.