Judy Chow

Judy Chow started leading creative writing workshops over twenty years ago in Boston, MA, and she taught a memoir writing course as an adjunct instructor for Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, VA. Judy's work has appeared in The Sun Magazine since 2000. Stories include The Interpreter and contributions to The Sun's treasured Readers Write column, where readers "address subjects on which they're the only authorities." Scroll through the column to Judy's Readers Write essays in: The Woods, Holidays, My Country, Immigrants, Sibling Rivalry. While a contributing writer for Asian Pages (2001-2006), Judy published nearly 30 short stories that evolved into her memoir manuscript, Translating Squiggly Lines.

The first time she heard her kindergarten teacher speak English, Judy just thought the teacher spoke terrible Chinese. Her teacher's incomprehensible words actually appeared visually as squiggly lines to the young, confused Judy. Translating Squiggly Lines is about Judy growing up as her family's interpreter, translating her parent's mail, explaining their doctor's orders, writing their checks, forging sick notes to teachers, impersonating her mother on the phone to call the plumber, sitting with the life insurance salesman, slowly deciphering the details of whole versus term life.

Her memoir chronicles a childhood spent rejecting her Chinese heritage in a white world, where she often forgot what she looked like, startling herself at a glimpse of her image in a passing mirror. Then, grieving her grandma—who was all things Chinese to her and who helped raise her since her immigrant parents worked long hours—Judy returned to China in search of who her grandmother was. Instead, Judy discovered herself and her own uniquely blended identity, one that is created, not inherited.

An excerpt from Translating Squiggly Lines was published in 2013 in the anthology, Unclaimed Baggage. In 2011, Judy was interviewed by ABC News -Washington DC affiliate about Translating Squiggly Lines. In 2004, she was also featured in an article in Virginia's Daily News-Record about memoir writing and her memoir.