Tag: Writing

Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life, by Yiyun Li

“A word I hate to use in English is I. It is a melodramatic word. In Chinese, a language less grammatically strict, one can construct a sentence with an implied subject pronoun and skip that embarrassing I, or else replace it with we. Living is not an original business.”

30211990I have had limited exposure to Chinese literature (or English literature about China, to be more accurate) but I’m sure I’ve read something in another book that conveys a similar sentiment about the letter “I”. I find truth in that statement. It startles me, as a realization, and yet, brings clarity at the same time.

Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life is a memoir in which Yiyun Li tries to decode life. She talks about her childhood in China, her mentally ill mother, and more. She wrote this memoir while battling suicidal depression and throughout, you feel, she is examining, sentence by rich sentence, about the point of life.

This is a complex narrative. I quite enjoyed the beginning, but in the later parts, although the prose was worth savouring, I found my mind wandering. This is essentially my problem and should not stop you from enjoying the book. Perhaps I felt she was going off tangent in certain places; I may be wrong about this though. There were several parts of it where I could not bring myself to agree with the author (much like Laura Esquivel’s memoir) but I still could see things from her point of view (unlike Laura Esquivel’s memoir, which I just gave up halfway)

Read it for the prose, read it for the quiet contemplation and wisdom, read it if, you too, are wondering what life is and where it’s going. She may not give you answers, but you will form your own.

Note: I received an ARC from Penguin UK/Netalley for review. My review is honest and unbiased.

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The Drunk-Writing Myth #MondayMusings

The Internet is la-la-wonderland of wrongly-attributed quotes. Obviously you can’t trust them all nor can you go around verifying everything you hear. And sometimes, mis-attribution can be very bad for your health, and even more detrimental to your writing. Case in point:

Write drunk. Edit sober.

-Not Hemingway

If you have been writing for a while, chances are you have seen this quote or a variation of it. But the truth is, Hemingway never said that. He just gets a lot of stuff attributed to him. However, the theory expressed in that quote seems to be advocated by a lot of writers (at least according to the internet). Some say it is metaphorical (a thought more comforting than -) while others say it is literal. I have read that Stephen King wrote Cujo while drunk or on drugs or something and does not have any memory of writing the novel. I don’t know how true this statement is. Nor have I read Cujo, but if Rachel’s reaction to the adaptation is anything to go by, I am gonna say drugs and horror seem to mix well:


So great for those writers that drunk-writing worked for them because it did not for me.

I could say I was merely performing an experiment based on these theories and writer stories. But that would not be the truth. The truth is: it was a fun Friday night.

This was about a year or so ago. I sat down to write after returning home – rather perfunctorily, I must add. I don’t remember what I wrote, much like King and Cujo. But the difference is, there was no option to go back and edit what I had written. Because you see, I was not sitting at my desk and politely “writing.” I was tweeting. Which was good and bad, as you will see below.

I had recently discovered Friday Phrases on Twitter (I don’t write those anymore (reasons beyond the scope of this post), but here are my archives) and I was making an effort to post my ideas every week no matter how senseless they were. This incident occurred on the second or third week.

The next day, my phone was still vibrating with retweets.

My head began to throb when I read my “gems” and that was certainly worse than any hangover. Drunk people are generally funny to be around, but when I read what I had written, the realization hit me that I could be incredibly boring. I had never, in all my wide travels, read anything so <insert most descriptive adjective ever> boring. It was the kind of writing that made watching grass grow look far more interesting. It’s a shock really, that commas and full stops were in all the right places (that, some people might say, is yet another form of boring)

The good (wonderful) news was – it was not something humongous being published, nor a page from something humongous that I may have wasted time on; it was just microfiction – forgotten in microseconds. The bad news was – unlike my other super-unpopular tweets, these were being RT’d a lot by the FP community. They are a fun, supportive group, but I really wanted to drown myself.

I hurriedly deleted all those tales. I needn’t have bothered because they had already been read by a lot of people (FP has grown since then, but the readership was substantial even back then). What you write sets the tone for people’s expectations of you, so you see my worry? But either way, I learned a valuable lesson for the far-off (possibly mythical) day in future when I begin my novel: I am never writing nor editing drunk.

Linking to #MondayMusings