Adam Lam speaks about his newest book and holds a writing workshop to help people express emotions within their writing.
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Justin Clay/Courier Award winning author Andrew Lam hosting a writing workshop in the C Building on April 3. Lam also shared some excerpts from his new collection of short stories.
Justin Clay/Courier
Award winning author Andrew Lam hosting a writing workshop in the C Building on April 3. Lam also shared some excerpts from his new collection of short stories.

Famous author, journalist and radio commentator Adam Lam held a writing workshop on Wednesday about expressing emotions through writing. He read from and promoted his newest book Birds of Paradise Lost on Thursday at noon and again later that evening.

Lam’s infectious laugh, warm smile, willingness to share his wisdom and the inflections he used when reading his characters’ words kept the events light and those who attended enthralled.

In the workshop, Lam spoke a little of his past and how it has helped shaped his writing. He shared a radio segment he did on being a Vietnam refugee at the age of 11, and how it was difficult for his family to express their emotions so they used singing as a medium.

The theme of the workshop was bravery. “You have to be brave,” said Lam. “You have to have the courage to speak up and say what needs to be said.” Lam encouraged those who attended to write a letter because he says it is the most beautiful form of writing. He wanted the audience to open up and say the things they wished they could say.

One of his suggestions was to write to either a former or future self. “When you find a way to express yourself, you find that you know yourself a little bit better,” said Lam.

A portion of the workshop consisted of attendees sharing the letters they had written. He explained that writing is about exploring the meaning of life with others. “That’s the magic of writing.”

Lam also gave a few tips about putting emotion into writing. “If you cry before the reader, they are not going to cry,” he said. “You have to lead them to tears.” According to Lam, holding back is a more effective way to move the reader.

Lam also spoke of the creative writing process and how for him, once something bothers him, he has to explore it through writing. He said it takes a powerful writer to face his own demons, and that is a pathway to freedom. “That’s why I love writing, because I can’t afford therapy,” he said with a laugh.

His readings were also based on emotion. Lam read a few passages from his book then held question and answer sessions afterward. Vietnamese sandwiches were provided, and signed copies of his books were raffled off.

Sam Reed, environmental engineer, came to the reading in the Creveling Lounge for extra credit, but stayed for the food, and enjoyed the experience. “The story felt complete,” said Reed. “It touched on a lot of different emotions, and I liked that.”

Lan Lingdorf, a friend of Lam’s and performer on Broadway, attended both the workshop and the readings. She admires Lam’s journalistic detail and ability to make realistic connections. “He’s able to find the hope and the humor in everything, no matter how dark.”

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