returning to my roots

influential and inextricable 🌱

Dad and I have been rewatching Doctor Who. Slowly, because we are too stingy to pay for HBO Max, and I'm too impatient to deal with the sketchy, subpar-quality pirating sites of my youth—life is too short for that kind of buffering.

We don't have a functioning DVD player. We're too stingy to buy one, so we're making do with a MacBook that's so old it came with a disc drive. We borrow the DVDs from our local library, play it on our dinosaur of a laptop, and pray the discs aren't corrupted. The thing about obsolete technology is that it thrives on uncertainty. We sit down to watch an episode and wonder, dimly, what will die first: the MacBook, with its faulty Windows partition and ridiculously long queue of software updates; the HDMI cord, connected to the decades-old TV; or the DVDs, littered with scratches.

Doctor Who is, by and far, one of my most formative influences. The Stargate franchise got me into sci-fi, but Doctor Who clarified my obsession, gave shape to my interest. Doctor Who introduced me to a majority of the things I love—folklore, divinity, heart-full girls. It showed me what I wanted to write; it convinced me that storytelling was a worthy pursuit, and instilled in me a love of the fantastic, the speculative, the darling and whimsical.

Rewatching the RTD era—series one through four—has been a slap in the face. I'm older now. Smarter (?). I'm less interested in the aliens and zany plots. Sometimes, more often than I'd like to admit, I find myself rolling my eyes. Doctor Who started out as a kids' show, and while it's matured over the years, the legacy persists.

Still, I can't help but love it. Doctor Who is a part of me: influential and inextricable. I am who I am because of Doctor Who—my curiosity, my interest in myth, my obsession with the savior archetype. Even my faith in humanity stems from Doctor Who. My ethics reflect the Doctor's belief that every single living creature is of worth. That we can choose to be the very best versions of ourselves, even in times of darkness.

It's humbling. Revisiting something that once meant so much to you; that, in many ways, saved your life. On one hand, it's so much worse than I remember—the dialogue, the special effects, the halfhearted attempts at feminism. But the heart of the show, the narrative I imprinted on so intensely, remains. And it continues to influence me to this day.

The ancient, morally gray, divinity-imbued men.

The fierce, flawed women, stumbling through life with a longing for more.

The setting: an impossible ship in an unbelievable universe.

The setup: adventures in time and space, mayhem and magic and the mundanity between—and through it all, you hold a god's hand.

If you follow me on social media, you'll know that I'm between projects right now. It was an unexpected change. I was engrossed in the world of #CrippingRapunzel until, one day, I wasn't. I started thinking about the future: my career post-querying. I still haven't given up on WANING CRESCENT, but the pessimist in me is planning for the worst-case scenario (i.e., I have to shelve WANING CRESCENT and query a completely different book).

I realized that, as much as I love #CrippingRapunzel, it wasn't the best debut. So I went back to the drawing board. I returned to my roots—the stories I love, and the stories I want to tell. I started fresh, and now I'm plotting something new, a standalone in the WANING CRESCENT universe. I don't know much about it, which is the fun part. There's so much left to discover.

Again, humility. Starting anew; returning to that which made me, the books and myths and corny kids' shows. There's something so edifying about it. Restorative. I guess that's why they call them roots.

I don't know much about my new project, code name #Ouroboros, but have an aesthetic 🥀✨


📚 My latest Notion template is available via Gumroad! Includes a customizable "bookshelf" database, featuring genres, tags, release dates, and synopses.

🎁 I'm running a giveaway on Instagram for a copy of my poetry debut, WHY I'M NOT WHERE YOU ARE! You can find more details here.

♿ I recently created a Discord server for disabled writers! You can join here.

🐺 I'm still writing weekly columns for SMA News Today! You can keep up with "The Wolf Finally Frees Itself" here.


🚀 My friend and fellow columnist, Sherry Toh, is writing about disability representation in Mass Effect. Sherry is smart as hell, and her analysis of BioWare's beloved trilogy is peak literacy criticism.

The trilogy distinguishes itself by recognizing the universe's vastness, diversity, and complexity. In doing so, it includes myriad disabled characters, both human and alien, whose experiences vary as much as the quality of their storylines. The addition of disabilities enriches and complicates its themes and politics; it's where it can soar into the stars or crash and burn like an aimless asteroid.

Productivity advice from Slava Akhmechet that slapped me upside the head.

Construct physical barriers to temptation so the internet loses and your laziness wins. Then get properly bored. Then do the work.

📝 Short but insightful reads on creating conflict and optimizing pacing and context.

🌷 Poems by Safia Elhillo and the love of my life, Ada Limón.

Say we spend our last moments staring
at each other, hands knotted together,
clutching the dog, watching the sky burn.
Say, It doesn't matter. Say, That would be
. Say you'd still want this: us alive,
right here, feeling lucky.

That's it for this month. Thanks for being here, and for letting me take up precious space in your inbox. If you feel so inclined, reply to this email and let me know what formative piece of media you're revisiting this summer.

Meticulously-curated Spotify playlists, blue police boxes, and hope, always hope,