Diana Liao

Diana Liao headshot


Hi there. I'm a confused person from New Jersey, and I code and draw and write, though sadly usually not at the same time. I got into creative work through video games, decided as a kid that I'd try to make games when I got older, and then I got older.

Almost everything I do stems from that initial desire to make games; I draw because games need art, I code because games are programs, and I write the stories I wanted to make into games at some point. Aside from the code, I didn't really get any formal training on any of those hobbies, and I am still figuring out exactly how art and writing even works, but I suppose it's a fine way as any to pass the time.

At any point in time, I'm probably working on like 50 projects at the same time and considering starting another 10. I'm also an incredibly verbose writer, fortunately or not, and I like writing stories that deal with relationships, mostly of the non-romantic kind.

I'm a bit of an odd writer. Actually, I don't know if I can even call myself a writer. I'm a writer as much as I write sometimes, and other times I'm compelled to write else I don't sleep for far too many hours. I write because I feel I must, not necessarily because I enjoy it (although sometimes I do enjoy it). I don't have a traditional writing background. I had no interest in it my entire childhood, and only passingly started realizing that I should learn more about it when I realized in high school that I often lacked words to describe what I was thinking.

I wrote on my own, having no idea that the creative writing field existed, or that there were methods and procedures that people followed, and got into college and learned that hey, people can teach a class on writing fiction. I learned I wasn't very good at writing fiction.

Princeton has been a weird experience, to say the least. There is a subtle pressure that bleeds into everything, that demands that everyone present themselves in the absolute best way possible, that seems to suggest that failure is not an option. But that's not how creative arts work; nobody starts off being good at everything. Writing is hard, and Princeton as an organization doesn't seem to address that...even the creative writing application seems imposing, demanding your best work, and the workshops themselves often felt like everyone was trying to find everything wrong with what you wanted to say.

This especially hits hard for people who don't look like everyone else, or don't write like everyone else. If you try to follow a methodology of writing to the limit, there's always going to be a right way to do things and a wrong way...but writing isn't actually like that.

I think a lot of anxiety around writing, and writing programs, is that words are overwhelmingly powerful. They don't disappear like speech does, and can empower or hurt very easily. The words we write are deeply personal, and it hurts when they're judged. It hurts if we realize that our writing has hurt or offended others, it hurts if it feels like our voices aren't important.

I guess my interest in being a peer mentor is to help with that anxiety a bit. I'm deeply involved in the LGBT community, and I know how much certain people's voices are typically suppressed, and so there has to be a way to encourage those voices to be heard.

...I don't think I can peer mentor much in art, unless people want to talk about video games or anime.

Class of '17

Program in Creative Writing

Residential College


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