“Stories of human nature are linked with pathologies of places.”
—Suzanne Joinson

“You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
Ansel Adams

(I could say the same about writing.)

Hi, I’m Emily Ding, a semi-itinerant freelance writer, journalist, and photographer—usually based in Kuala Lumpur, sometimes in London.

Letters from Somewhere is a personal email newsletter about making sense of the world through stories and exploring the connections between where we are and who we are. It’s especially for those of you who see travel not so much as an act of escapism, but a closer communion with the world.

You’ll find personal reflections about writing & reporting; travel & exploration; politics & history; reading & literature; pop culture, obscurities & curiosities—unencumbered by, but not necessarily ignorant of, what’s current.

My fervent wish is that every letter arrives in your inbox in a flutter of serendipity, and that you find something in it which shifts, spurs, tickles, and awes you.

Want to know what you’re signing up for? Read my past letters.

P.S. This newsletter is basically just me wading my way through my thoughts to make better sense of things. So I should say, though I shouldn’t need to, but because of the way the internet’s going: I reserve the right to change my mind.

Why you should subscribe

What readers are saying:

“I love welcoming new newsletters into my inbox and this one looks like it’ll be a ripper!” —Erin Cook

“Really enjoyed the newsletter, love the range of content on there, especially the article recommendations, and the quotes you picked out! It made me feel like I was reading an actual newsletter, and I was back in the early 00s, traveling around Asia, when Internet cafes were still a thing, and smartphones were not to be seen.” —Liang Lu-Hai

“She lives the way I can only dream of, chasing stories deep into parts less trodden.” —Florentyna Leow

Free vs. paid subscriptions

For now, you can stay on a free subscription and still access most of my letters, since I’d like them to be read by as many of you as possible. 

But by making a paid subscription, you’d not only be directly supporting this newsletter’s growth; you’d also be supporting my storytelling endeavours more generally. You’d be helping me cultivate a readership of my own, independent of the publications I write for. Sometimes, writers just want to write what they want to write, without requiring editorial permission; and certain stories are more fitting for autonomous, personal outlets like this.

So if you like what I do, I’d be very grateful if you would consider contributing USD$5 monthly (it’s the minimum set by Substack; and you can cancel at any time), or a discounted USD$50 annually. But paying subscriber or not, know that I’m thankful for every one of you reading.

Subscribe now

Can’t commit to a subscription? You can make a one-off contribution instead at paypal.me/emydeewrites—however much you’d like, in whatever currency you choose. Think of it as a digital tip jar. Many thanks in advance!

Other ways you can support this newsletter

+ A personal thumbs-up from you would really make my day! Feel free to forward my letters on to your friends and family or share them on social media. Don’t forget to link back to emydeewrites.substack.com

+ Write this newsletter a personal recommendation, which I’ll share here. Just email it to emydeewrites@gmail.com

+ I’m always looking for opportunities to do more of what I love to do. Tell an editor you know that I write news, culture, and travel features (longform, too)—from Kuala Lumpur, where I’m based; or occasionally, from elsewhere. Send them on to www.emilyding.me. I’m also open to collaborations.

A few things to note

How often will I receive your newsletter?
It should arrive in your inbox at least once a month, possibly more.

Can I share your individual letters?
Sure. Feel free to forward them on to friends and family, or share their online permalinks instead. If you’re sharing screenshots on social media, make sure you direct people to emydeewrites.substack.com

By the way, you got something wrong in one of your letters…
Please email me and let me know. I would very much appreciate the heads-up.

There’s something I think you’d be interested in…
I’m always happy to hear ideas, whether it’s for travel or potential stories, or recommendations, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

I don’t seem to be receiving your letters…
Check your Promotions or Spam folders. If they’re there, mark my emails as “not spam” to make sure they reach you in future.

If you got this far, I’m guessing you’re going to sign up… Many thanks in advance for granting me friendly passage through your inbox!

Sign up now

I never, never take eyeballs for granted.


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Comments, recommendations, story/travel ideas?
Catch up on past letters here.
All words and multimedia published on emydeewrites.substack.com © 2019 Emily Ding, unless otherwise noted or as common sense dictates. All rights reserved.