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Saved as Draft: Stories of Self-Discovery Through Letters and Notes


Worth reading 😎

_Saved as Draft_ by N. D. Chan: A short genre-busting memoir exploring Chan's identity as a Chinese-American lesbian writer.

N. D. Chan's Saved as Draft is a quick read, but the length shouldn't fool readers into thinking the work is light fare or that it lacks complexity. Instead, this small book of poems, snapshots, and letters to people in the author's past is a gold mine of potential storylines. I would love to see all of them transformed into several longer nonfiction works or used in semi-autobiographical fiction. The book not only shows Chan's multiple facets and identities through the use of varied forms (poems, letters, pictures) but also in the different identities Chan traces in those forms.

The first section focuses on Chan's Chinese-American identity. When Chan was an infant, her mother sent her to live with grandparents. At the age of six, Chan returns to the US to live with her mother, who has found success and an American husband. Her grandparents speak no English, so Chan becomes their personal interpreter. Chan not only has to learn to love her "new father" but is haunted by the father she never knew and is teased by white kids for her differences.

The middle section focuses on Chan's lesbian identity. Her girlfriends are white, but there's not much reflection on difference (cultural or ethnic) here. What shines is the rawness and honesty in letters to two of Chan's ex-girlfriends. While I miss potential cultural and generational clashes I'm sure Chan faced coming out to her family as a lesbian, it's refreshing to see the author's thoughts on those relationships specifically, rather than on how others perceived and reacted to them. In both of the letters, Chan focuses on closed, perfect, isolated spaces--her first girlfriend's bedroom and the hotel where she would meet girlfriend #2--showing how she shielded her early relationships from outside influences, keeping them secret and almost sacred.

The third part of the memoir focuses a bit more on Chan's advice to herself as a writer. At times, the book reads like a creative writing student's capstone or thesis project, which may make some readers feel a bit let down. For me, though, the collection simply makes me hungry for more developed fictional versions of these experiences--the text has a lot of good seeds, and I'll hope Chan continues to weave stories from her experiences.

Reviewed by

Angelic Rodgers lives in L.A. (Lower Arkansas) with her wife, two unruly cats, and two codependent dogs. She is currently working on her sixth novel. You can keep up with her at and on social media (contact points are on her site).

Yellow Brick Road

About the author

N.D. Chan discovered her passion for writing while attending Sarah Lawrence College. She is now an entrepreneur who works in the technology industry and lives in Brooklyn with her partner and their Bichon-Poodle. view profile

Published on August 06, 2019

Published by FriesenPress

20000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

Reviewed by