The Monthly interviews Tse Hao Guang – Part 1 – The internal drive to be a writer

Do you have any early memories of being drawn to writing as a form of self expression?

It really started, the true beginning, isn’t so much about writing and is much more about reading. I often tell students in my workshops about this. When I was quite young, I would visit my Dad’s side of the family in Canada, and when we would go there, usually in December, it was Winter and it would be very cold and there really was nothing to do. I would ask my uncle to drive me to the local library and I would borrow as many books as possible.

I would read and read and I found that writing would take me to places that I would probably never visit, gave me experiences that I would likely never have in real life. It was that experience that drew me into the importance of the written word.

While I loved the written word and reading, it was at school when the teachers would give you creative writing exercises, that made me think that I could actually write. Of course it is much much later when I started to think that I could write material that would be able to be published.


I take it you were very young when you went to Canada and once you realised that you were interested in writing did you get support?

It was when I was around 10 years old that I would go to Canada, to Ontario.

My parents didn’t stop me from reading or writing. I think sometimes they were a little worried when I would spend a lot of money on books. They liked that I was reading and that I had that interest.

I would get a little support at school, the teachers would encourage me, but we didn’t have any targeted support. I don’t think the teachers knew where they could direct you so that you could learn more about writing.

There was a programme called the Creative Arts Programme, and that is more of a camp where you would meet friends, and you would do a little writing. Actually the priority seemed to be more on the friends side than the writing side.

I think that the drive to keep writing was very much an internal drive. I think no matter what happened and what support I was or wasn’t given, I would still have ended up writing.

Did you go on to further education?

Yes I did go to the University of Singapore and I studied English Literature there, but there were very few opportunities for creative writing in the courses I was studying. There was no systematic part of the course where creative writing was taught.

If you want to connect with more of Tse Hao Guang’s work see following link –

part two is here

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