01 Aug / Literary Interview: Curtis Chin [in aMagazine: Inside Asian America]
Founding Father: Curtis Chin
Way, way back when, Curtis Chin – a boy wonder who was featured on Wheel of Fortune as a kid – was my very first editor at aMagazine. While he worked as our arts editor, he also started up the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, which eventually claimed him as its full-time managing director. In 1996, Chin left his baby to go west and conquer Hollywood, where he’s one of only a handful of Asian Americans in the Writers Guild. Here, he talks (Work)shop:
So what do you think of your baby now, 10 years later?
I once heard that the primary job of a good leader was to groom their successor. That seemed to make sense to me, especially after seeing so many nonprofits that seemed so dependent on a single founder. If the Asian American community is going to grow, it’s going to need institutions built around ideas and issues, not personalities. In that sense, I am so proud of the Workshop. They have continued to grow and service the community in ways I could not even have imagined. A lot of credit has to go to people like board president Michael Yi and the subsequent managing directors like Parag Khandhar, Peter Ong, and now Quang Bao.
Where do see the Workshop going in its next decade?
Besides owning its own building and bookstore? Where the Workshop goes will depend on the changing needs of its primary constituencies: the writers and readers. As long as the AAWW continues responding to those needs, then the organization will continue to grow and remain vital. My personal wish would be for the Workshop to provide more fellowships and publishing opportunities to mid-career writers – the writers who are seriously pursuing a full-time writing career, but are forced to take other jobs just to pay the rent. It would be nice to give one of these writers enough money to take a full year off to write. Also, I would love to see the organization start publishing single author books, books by such talented writers as Barbara Tran and Tina Chang.