Sweet Olive: n. nickname given to Olivia Watkins Hwang by Rebecca Breeden; a small tree or shrub native to Asia whose scientific name is osmanthus fragrant often used to make jam or scented tea in China; a fragrant garden flower.

Welcome to Sweet Olive Writes.

My name is Olivia Hwang, but you can call me Olly, O, Liv or, you guessed it, Sweet Olive. For most of my life, I wrote secretly in small Hello Kitty journals, on napkins and in the margins of my books. In college, my professor in a Creative Writing 101 course I’d taken for fun pulled me aside after a short-story assignment and asked me a question that would forever change how I thought of myself.

Prof.: Why aren’t you pursuing writing? Don’t you enjoy it?
Me: Of course I enjoy it, but I didn’t think anyone would actually enjoy reading my writing.
Prof.: That’s ridiculous. You’re good at this. Don’t waste it.
His last few words hung in my head for weeks like a pop song that just wouldn’t let go. Part of me always knew that holding fast to my work and locking it away wasn’t the answer. I was terrified that allowing people to read what I wrote would confirm my greatest fear — that I wasn’t very good at writing at all.

At some point after fighting back the fear of failure, I began to take his advice. I added an English major at Tulane University, and buried myself in creative fiction.

Fast forward a few years and I was working as a journalist and then an editor. Now, I ghost write letters, speeches and reports for a government agency in Louisiana. It isn’t a dream come true, but I am working on issues that I am passionate about with a team of caring, driven colleagues.

Through it all, I never stopped writing for myself. Still, I wasn’t sharing my work. Sweet Olive Writes is a small attempt to change that habit. Thanks to a little nudge, or several over nearly two years, from this guy, I have begun to share some creative writing and some brief essays on subjects that are near and dear to my heart: food, faith, and the beauty and challenges that make this life wonderful.