Tag Archives: East Asian

Minor Earth, Major Sky

As a hobbyist dilettante writer, I have been writing this and that on my beloved blog for four years. Despite English being my Second Language, I dare to write in it against criticism of solecism regarding all the prescriptive rules of the most popular language of the Indo-European linguistic superphyla. The reason I continue to and love to write is no more than the justice of my meek self, smothered under the mask of exoticness that has become my sole identity, and a written touchstone for the neural activities of the mind. I sometimes wonder affected by the progress of neurological or physiological maladies as I slowly walk toward the end of the mortal journey on earth. So, I want to leave the mark of my existence. Welcome to My Invisible World, the Minor Earth.

The provenance of today’s post comes from my reading of a Saturday edition of the Guardian subscription on my Kindle two days ago. It featured a book review of Must I Go by Yiyun Li, exultantly described as a cracking read written by a Chinese-American woman writer deserving of the commendation. The article began with her illustrious academic background as an immunologist and a recipient of a prestigious MacArthur grant bestowed on geniuses. While such introductory curriculum vitae is undoubtedly relevant to denote her intellectual brilliance, I wonder if such a decorative prerequisite is necessary for the book’s worth. What if Li were just an obscure Chinese writer delving into English writing without the decoration? Such a hypothetical question might be regarded as nothing but an incoherent rambling of a jilted would-be writer. Yet, I have noticed that ordinariness is off-putting, unglamorous, and unworthy of recognition. Call it a groundless presumption or jealous subjectivism even, but it’s the truth. Charlotte’s Bronte’s author’s tenet of faithful allegiance to truth and nature seems to apply to the otherness of the Far-Eastern writers whose ordinariness is merely invisible and regardless. That is, they exist in an invisible habiliment of mysteriousness from Shangri-La.

The review analyzes Li’s literary reality of uprooted sentimentality in the background against America’s wilderness, so to speak, in which her existential question of who she is based. Li also rides on the crest of the waves of cultural identity, as is the principal thematic element of most Far-Eastern writers. Rather than striking the chords with the universality of human life, they tend to focus on the egoistic litany of alienation with their selfsame egoist emphasis on otherness. In this regard, Far-Eastern writers themselves foster this strangeness, this otherness, these less-than-ordinary images based on their literary tenet they believe truthful and appealing to selective, not universal readers. That is why I, who is also from the far east tend to eschew their stories, void of the common ground of empathy, no other than the shared physical reality.

Enter Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains of the Day, whose literary world is not limited in his racial and cultural backgrounds. A good writer is capable of travel and metamorphosis beyond the existential terra, where the vision becomes a reality of its own. Ishiguro wants to be all that he can be away from his physical context to manifest his views on human nature, which aims to chime the bells of universal emotions. However, such transfiguration of physical reality into the universal realm of consciousness does not betray Ishiguro’s ascribed biological characteristics because creative force, in conjunction with desire for aesthetic values of literature, is mightier and higher than physical reality. In this sense, Ishiguro gloriously triumphs over racial barriers, and splendidly demonstrates that what you look like and where you are from cannot confine you who you want to become.

I still write despite my imperfect command of English simply because I love the act of writing as a valve for opening myself dying for a fresh breath. My book has sold only five digits of a hand. I recently received a comment on one of my book reviews I posted three years ago on amazon with 32 likes that callously slighted my ability to write in general because of minor violations of grammar rules. Yes, I am an amateur writer of Far-Eastern backgrounds with an ordinary job as a legal assistant with a B.A. in English from a state university. Yes, my English is far from the perfection of English Undefiled. Yet, writing is no longer a prerogative of the academically privileged whose selfish seclusion of lettered cases is adulated. Writing is a democratic vehicle in which anyone can morph into whoever she or he wishes without restraints. Take Tolstoy, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, and Jane Austen, all of whom put their literary aspiration into reality despite their spelling weakness. No one shall bully my writing skills, nor belittle my volition to write for universal readership. Forget how I look and speak. It’s the heart’s passion and satisfaction of reason letting out of the cocooned physical reality that deserves manifestation. For this reason, I write with or without public recognition with a myriad of likes.

P.S.: I don’t believe that you can follow my blog without liking what I have written. Also, even if you fulfill the requirement above, if you are regarded as a marketing puppet, then I will drive you away. Therefore, I will not treasure your subscription to my blog if you just press the button on caprice and whims. Certainly not for my blog.

I write.

oHere I am at the end of the first day of a new week. Upon just returning from working on the evening shift at school in the City, I should go to bed instead of writing this post to rest my weary soul coping with daily rituals of emotional ebbs and flows. Yet this is the best time of me to purge out all my angst, fears, and insecurities I am possessed by; the best time because I can walk out of all my daily duties as an administrative assistant at work, as an eldest daughter of my parents at home, and any other status as a functional member of society. This is my time, mine, and mine only to express myself freely without supervision. So here I am, writing.

I like writing: Poetry, essay, letter, email, and notes – in English. Since English is not a primary language I did not pick up from the infancy to the adolescence, I still have to work hard thereon to make my writing perspicuous for telling the world what I mean to say. The grammar may not seem flawless in my writing, but I have got ideas that few can think of. No, this is not a pretentious glib, nor is this a simulation of writer’s confidence in the English language. Yes, I’ve got it for sure.

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I have recently bought Stephen King’s On Writing from Amazon.com, and this is a magnificent book! I had never enjoyed any book by American writers until I found this book! It’s a bit hasty to talk about my review of the book at this point because I am still reading it, but King is truly original and ingenious in divulging his biographic tales of how he came to write in his childhood; of how he overcame his dypsomania and drug addiction; and of how he arrived as a successful writer in order to help us write well. I shall return to the subject of his book and the review thereof in another posting later, but the most vivid advice from King registered in my mind is that it is not how many vocabularies I know¬†but how well I use the vocabularies that I have already acquired. This is truly an Eureka moment. King’s advice is worth a million. And this has become my axiom for writing since this day.

And I will not be afraid of writing in English any longer in fear of receiving criticism on some grammatical errors because the purpose of my writing is to tell stories, to entertain ideas/feelings that people can connect with, not to wow English teachers/professors/grammarians/conservatives who may disparage a foreigner’s (especially of East Asian ethnicity) English writing skills.

Thus wrote Stephanie S. I write, therefore I am.