#DailyWings: “Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and seeing what happens.”
-Louise L. Hay
Hi everyone. It’s taken a long time for me to come back to this website and have the courage to hit “publish” on this blog post. I’ve missed writing here. A lot has happened since I last blogged in 2015, and I feel like I owe you all — my readers — an explanation for why I stopped blogging, which was once a sacred part of my life as a writer.
Those of you who’ve been around for a while know that I started a blog for the first time on Blogspot in January 2010. It was my safe haven for many years, with a short break in the middle so that I could migrate to a new location — this website. Back then, I didn’t know things like SEO existed that could drive or inform my editorial content. My blog was simply a creative outlet for me to share my writing journey and my hobbies outside of journalism with the outside world. That was it.
Then, a few years ago, I re-branded from “The Red Angel” — the online pseudonym I had picked back in high school — to “Wendy Lu Writes,” my current handle for all social media. My amazing friend and graphic designer Kimberly Li conceptualized a new website design for me, and my equally amazing web developer friend Philip Jewell turned this design into a fully functioning website. Over time, a community of friends formed here — fellow bloggers, authors, journalists, and online lurkers would visit and share their own experiences. It was one of my favorite parts of being a blogger — connecting with strangers around the world who were equally passionate, curious, weird, and wordy.
Then, when I moved to New York City for graduate school, I stopped blogging.
It’s now been just over two years since I last published a blog post here on this website. Some of you may have noticed that I revamped a couple of sections, including my Writing Portfolio. But the homepage, the heart and soul of the blog, has remained the same. The last blog post I wrote was supposed to be the beginning of a series, “The Columbia Journo Diaries,” chronicling my adventures as a budding journalist in New York City. But I never got past the first entry.
People say that when you make big changes in life, whether it’s a new career or a move to the big city, you end up making sacrifices along the way. Going to Columbia Journalism School was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my entire life. I can’t stress that enough. In fact, my next blog post is devoted entirely to Columbia. But it’s not just graduate school.
Here’s the truth: Moving to Manhattan changed me in ways that I am still trying to comprehend to this day. It transformed not just my career and my everyday life, but who I am as a person. I know that sounds dramatic, but up until I was about 22, I had never been “on my own” before. I was accompanied by a parent or nurse for two decades before I moved to New York all by myself. As much as I craved independence, I didn’t have the first clue about what to do with all that freedom once I actually got it. I was determined to show everyone — my family, my friends back home, both my old and new professors — that I could do it.
And in many ways, you could say that I did do it. I graduated from Columbia in May 2016 with a master’s degree in journalism. Over the past two years, I’ve achieved dreams that I never even knew I had. I did a summer internship with amNewYork, a newspaper published by Newsday that covers all five boroughs of New York City. I covered police shootings; I met Grandmaster Flash and George Takei; I covered the red carpet for Broadway musicals; I got to know the locals in Coney Island; and I caught glimpses of Jaden Smith, Jennifer Lopez and Lin-Manuel Miranda — all on assignment.
Shortly after, I began a lifestyle fellowship at Bustle, the leading news and lifestyle website for millennial women. I discovered that I could write personal essays about my experiences of living with a disability that could reach hundreds of people — and that people actually cared. Then, about six months after graduation, I published my first story in The New York Times. The story was my master’s project from Columbia, a photo essay and feature article about dating for women with disabilities. I remember catching the subway on the day my story ran, feeling like I’d shed skin and become a new person. I was a New York Times-published journalist. It didn’t feel real.
None of this would have happened, of course, without many scrapes along the way. I made a lot of mistakes in graduate school (again, stay tuned). And unfortunately, I realized very quickly after those first two weeks of journalism boot camp that making time to blog was simply out of the question. That, and sleeping/journaling/homemade spa nights/overall self-care. I am proud of the things that I’ve accomplished here in the city, but I also hope to find a better balance in my life for all the things that once brought me immense joy. And that begins with blogging.
Here are some of my favorite stories that I’ve written since graduate school:
13 Microaggressions People With Disabilities Face On A Daily Basis, Bustle
Dating With a Disability, New York Times
Who’s A New Yorker? Chick-fil-A Knows
12 Random Things People Have Called My Disability, Bustle
‘The Get Down,’ on Netflix, brings back the Boogie Down Bronx, amNewYork
‘Hamilton’ brings new business opportunities to NYC, from Trinity Church to SoulCycle, amNewYork
What journalists can do better to cover the disability beat, CJR
See more in my writing portfolio.