Ally Gong is a writer and YouTuber based in California. LA baby, her first book, is a poetry anthology about her undergraduate years in Los Angeles, where she studied Economics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She loves translating her life experiences into writing, photos, and videos.
☀️ What motivated you to start vlogging and sharing your life on YouTube and Instagram?
I made my first YouTube video in elementary school, mainly to share my little notebook of fashion designs at the time (filmed on Photobooth!). Over the years, I developed a passion for editing and creating videos. Recently, I’ve been really motivated to share my story and my own experiences of life (the good, the bad, the real) on YouTube to inspire other people.
Instagram is an extension of my old fashion blog. I used to joke that because I’m so tall, my blog and Instagram are the only places where I can wear my heels out.
All of those things kind of started from a love for fashion but evolved into places where I can share some of my life and thoughts.
☀️ You’ve recently written a book, LA baby, documenting your experience living in Los Angeles. Why did you decide to write this book?
I vividly remember the afternoon I decided to write the book. It was an inspiration that came out of nowhere honestly. I’ve always loved writing and books, but that afternoon when I was hanging out with my friends, I just remembered feeling like our interactions, the warm weather, the way the apartment looked, everything was just so unbelievably real. It was such a simple moment but I suddenly felt so alive and grateful and humbled by my experience of life.
So at that moment, I literally decided I would write a book, to capture all the most poignant, hard, and inspiring moments of college (in which I personally feel there were many). I started to work on it and brainstorm it from then on.
☀️ Can you tell us about the process of writing LA baby?
I have a really messy creative process, so I started writing down notes everywhere: when hanging out with friends, studying alone in the library, going places in the Uber, even at the club - any literal moment I got an inspiration for a poem or book, I would scramble to write it down, whether it was in my bullet journals, on my iPhone notepads, and sometimes even just on the back of my hand if I really had to. And when I felt like writing, I would expand on poems, and then sometimes I would sit down and write complete poems.
In my senior year of college, I really began putting together the book, writing about those random fragments and collections and fleshing them out in ways that could be universally communicated and felt.
I remember one quarter of my senior year, I would wake up at 5 am, walk to the Starbucks on the corner of Westwood, and work on my manuscript. There were always homeless people there at that hour of the morning. It was a strange period in my life.
I ended up completing my book a year past my original timeline goal, halfway into the COVID pandemic.
☀️ What are your most special moments from 2020?
Hanging out with my roommate and friends in New York before moving home. Dressing up and buying clothes in Animal Crossing. Cutting my hair short. Looking at the stars. Hanging out with family, especially with my sister!
☀️ How do you personally document and preserve memories that are important to you?
It’s changed SO much over the years. I can list a million of the different things I’ve tried. I used to make little time capsules out of cardboard boxes when I was way younger. I would say the most consistent ways have been through iPhone photos, documenting in video (I have a lot of private videos on my YouTube channel for memories sake), and writing down memories or inside jokes in my journal.
You can purchase LA baby: a college anthology here. Ally's second book, Isolation (which is about quarantine and social media habits), will be published by the end of 2020.
All photos on this post are courtesy of Ally Gong.
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