At only 25 years old, Charissa Ong is a busy woman. A UX designer by day at an established company, she also juggles being a full-time business woman with her very own publishing house, Penwings Publishings with 3 published books already on her shelves (did we say Boss Girl?). We talked to the sentimental author on her love for poetry, her thoughts on the local publishing scene and more.
What do you love about poetry compared to other forms of writing?
Poetry feels magical and nostalgic to me. As a fan of Disney, I've always loved the rhymes the songwriters put in their songs and scripts. It gives the impression that those words belonged there all along. Modern poetry these days is so subjective and there is no one rule to writing. Compared to short stories, which I have also included in my books, page-poetry compliments the short attention spans of readers nowadays. The demand for more sophisticated, layered, summarized content is on the rise. Shots of dopamine are what people are familiar with nowadays.
As for novels, it takes a far greater investment of time, emotions, and focus. I've postponed my novel project for two years now [laughs]. Somehow, writing short pieces work for me because I could really make sure that it's perfect in my eyes while not having the stress of keeping the momentum for a linear story going.
What are you constantly inspired by?
Movies, conversations I have with people, and personal experiences. I take notes whenever I hear something interesting and go back to it later when I have the time to write. I keep a cadence of two poetry pieces a week.
One tip for aspiring writers who get the occasional writing blocks, especially during the CMCO?
Always keep a notepad or an app ready to jot down interesting phrases or words that you could use as prompts later on. If you really DO have writers' block, don't force yourself to write. Make some tea, smell the grass, or take a walk. BUT, do not fall into the procrastination trap. It's important to let your brain breathe, but don't let it sleep!
How would you describe your writing style?
Bitter-sweet, perspective challenging pieces. I always start a piece with a common negative or popular thought and end them with a hopeful tone or with a different perspective that forces the reader to empathize with an opinion contrary to their belief.
What’s one act of kindness that you think everyone needs right now?
I think everyone deserves to be asked if they're okay and to be genuine about hearing the answer. It's not difficult, nor is it expensive. I've recently started Penwings Podcast where I would go live on my Instagram at @cotypoems and talk about mental health and other issues that people don't usually talk about. I have episodes on Hating yourself, Anxiety & Depression, Pills and Psyches, and even Serial Dating! They're all saved on my IGTV.
I always start a piece with a common negative or popular thought and end them with a hopeful tone or with a different perspective that forces the reader to empathize with an opinion contrary to their belief.
What was the highlight of your 2020 so far?
Publishing Poethree O'Clock box set, a dream since publishing my first book, Midnight Monologues in 2016, and launching my Midnight Monologues audiobooks! These two are huge milestones for myself and my company. These two were initially planned for the coming years but Covid accelerated my need to digitize my business and work hard on producing products my readers would enjoy. I really wanted something positive my readers and I can remember 2020 with, despite the pandemic and all the sadness all around us.
Lastly, please share 3 of your favourite local creative crushes plus their IG handles to shoutout!