Posted in book review

autocracy of writing

Woman Writing Letters 1911

As a hobbyist blogger with the temerity to write in English on her blog, it irks me to realize the pomposity of literature and the hypocrisy of classicism, especially in American writers. Take, for example, my ambivalent opinion on the book introduction about ‘Essays Two’ by Lydia Davis I read from the 12/11/2021 issue of The New York Times Book Review.

Knowing another language certainly gives you a unique insight into the world with a subtle but more caring timbre of sentiment and reason common to all human creatures. But the magical ability is not a prerogative of a brilliant professional translator of a high literate/academic echelon. Davis’s Marcel Proust is undoubtedly impressive, but Proust is not for everybody, showing that the literati excludes general readers. On the other hand, there are would-be, potential, or unclaimed writers whose narratives are to be reckoned with, from a refugee to an immigrant. Take Nobel Literature Prize winners Abdulrazak Gurnah (2021) and Kazuo Ishiguro (2017). Both used English as their literary tool to articulate their narratives with the images seen through their poetic “third eye” sense.

Davis and other translators-turned writers speak languages of the same language family. So, of course, the perspectives are similar. But, in all fairness, I want to see writers (and former translators) of all social classes writing about subject elements of particular views from a platform where they become universalizing, striking the chords of our human life. Isn’t that what literature is about?

Posted in Miscellany

2021 Nobel Prize in Literature goes to Abdulrazak Gurnah

The great writers are capable of metamorphosis and travel across a gulf of time and a hiatus of cultures and continents because their narratives speak to the sentiments and reason common to all humankind. Enter Abdulrazak Gurnah, this year’s Nobel Prize laureate in Literature, in this celestial constellation of great writers. The following is what I think about Gurnah based on reading his interview with today’s Reuter.

Gurnah, born in Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania) in 1948, went to England in the 1960s as a refugee fleeing from the political turmoil and social unrest of his native country. Then began his migrant’s song composed of multiple strands of his experience, thoughts, and feelings that became polyphonic acapella in variant notes and rhythms. Unlike many other laureates of prestigious literary awards or esteemed recognition, Gurnah is a champion of underdogs who were not expensively educated in private institutions and, above all, who were not born into the surroundings of English as mother tongue. Working at the places where his privileged literary peers would not think of, Gurnah wrote in English as Second Language as his Lingua Franca literary tool. The result is his enchantment of readers to a fantastic maze of his inner world. His narratives become Ariadne’s thread that guides his readers to the world that seems so unfamiliar yet oddly universal.

Gurnah seems to be the kind of writer I sincerely respect and dare to emulate who have lived among ordinary people like a sun in evening declination with the soft but radiant scarlet hues covering the earth, reflecting its magnificent face in shining waters. I am delighted to confirm that you don’t have to be born into a culture that speaks English if you want to become a good English writer. It is not about the Perfect mastery of language but about articulating thoughts to become a great writer. Although the media emphasizes Gurnah’s being the second black African author to have won the award since Nigerian Wole Soyinka in 1986, I don’t think it’s about his race that draws attention to his books. His being a writer supersedes his race because writers are different kinds of the race with a unique eye to look at the world and show it to readers, standing together in the collegiality of human spirits.

Posted in book review

Easy as Pie Crosswords by Stanley Newman

Easy as Pie Crosswords: Really, Really Easy!: 72 Relaxing PuzzlesEasy as Pie Crosswords: Really, Really Easy!: 72 Relaxing Puzzles by Stanley Newman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have always admired people who do crossword puzzles on newspaper as a pastime; unlike word searches in which your mission is to find right words and circle them, crosswords require your cognitive abilities to conjure up right words, plus a mastery of the English language, including knowledge of idioms and certain expressions endemic in the English speaking countries. So as an admirer whose English is but a second language, finding an easy crossword puzzle was necessary to partake in the craft. Hence this puzzle book came along: deliciously enjoyable and generously easy, this puzzle book is recommended to anyone who is a novice in this field of crosswords. Moreover, this puzzlebook is spiral-bound, so that you can flip back the pages easily and solve the puzzles comfortably. This will be a nice addition to your coffee table readings at your leisure time.

Posted in Miscellany

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.


I have recently bought Stephen King’s On Writing from, 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.

Posted in Miscellany

To tame a Spirit of Writing: How to start, describe, and end your writing of any kind.

writing1When do you have a writer’s block in writing an essay, email, a letter, or just about anything? Introduction? Body? or Conclusion? My writer’s block begins to form in writing an introduction. How to begin requires clarity, creativity, and cleverness of me in terms of presenting a subject matter of writing lucid and interesting. Everyone has of course different points when it comes to encountering his/her writer’s block. But most of the time, such difficulty results from a lack of organization of an idea, a thought sprung from the mind that needs to be disciplined. Thus, I have briefly summarized the following methods of taming your free spirit of writing:


A. Writing as a four-step process:

  1. You think of things you want to say-as many as possible as quickly as possible.
  2. You figure out a sensible order for those thoughts; that is, your outline.
  3. With the outline as your guide, you write out a draft.
  4. After setting the draft aside for a matter of minutes or days, you come back and edit it.

As developed by Dr. Betty Sue Flowers, a University of Texas English professor, each of the above-referenced steps are also called by the following names according to the corresponding intellectual functions:

(1)  Mad man, the creative spirit who generates ideas (Brainstorming);

  • Your essential Imagination, however sloppy and raw it may be
  • In this stage, you are going for copious thoughts as many as possible
  • Jotting down ideas in the absence of sentences and paragraphs
  • Fast and furious outpourings of thoughts, ideas.
  • Need to protect against the Judge disapproving the sloppiness.
  • Save the Judge for later stage in the writing; otherwise, the Madman could be at considerable risk, causing ‘writer’s block”.
  • Writers commonly have little battles in their heads if the hypercritical Judge is allowed to start “censoring” ideas even as the Madman is trying to develop them.
  • “Keep the Judge out of the realm of the Madman!”
  • The Non-linear outlined ideas in resemblance of the Madman frame of mind.

(2)  Architect, the planner who ensures that the structure is sound and appealing (Syntax builder to make a sensible, effective sentence structure;

  • He must arrange the ideas with sensible sentence structures with the right words.
  • An architectural design/outline with specifications is to be made for the next step.
  • However, for the Architect to do his job well, the Madman should be given a complete free rein to exercise his right of free thoughts without linguistic boundaries.

(3)   Carpenter, the builder who makes the corners square and the counters level (Crafting of words for the effect of articulation); and

  • He is the “leader”, who will lead the writing to an effective force of communicability.
  • According to the Architect’s design with specifications, the Carpenter builds the draft.
  • Ideally, the Carpenter writes quickly, treating the outline as a series of gaps that need filling in.
  • In fact, although this stage is where writing begins in earnest, the carpentry is the hardest part of writing in terms of producing a draft.
  • The reason for this difficulty results from the absence of the Madman (Thinking of Ideas) and Architect (Sequencing the Ideas) stage to singlehandedly use the Carpenter (Verbalizing the Ideas).
  • Such disregard for these Two Men stages is out of the context; the Carpenter’s job would be relatively easy with the proper jobs by these two men.
  • Keep the autocratic Judge out of sight at this stage; otherwise, you will slow down yourself. The Carpenter is a Writer, not an Editor.
  • Still, though, the Carpenter must exercise considerable discretion in following the Architect’s plans by making architectural refinements here and there when producing paragraphs and sections.

(4) Judge, who checks to see whether anything has gone wrong (Editing of the product to ensure communicability thereof).

  • The Judge finally takes over when you have a raw draft.
  • You can now fix the ragged edges.
  • The Judge does everything from smoothing over rough transitions to correcting grammar, spelling, and typos. (The Smooth Syntax Operator)
  • Or the alternative name is “Janitor” who tidies up little messes.


B. Visualization of the works (as in a legal case)

  1. The nonlinear Whirlybird by the Mad Man
  1. The Design Plan by the Architect

1)   Main issue: The cause of action and the question thereon. e.g., “Upon being reprimanded, Penfold threatened his supervisor by saying, “I am gonna get you for this!” The supervisor immediately fired him. Was the termination justified?

2)  Detailed factual statement

3)  General principles re the cause of action. That is, the evidence on each element of his cause of action, causation, and damages.e.g., re: threatened violence at work

  • Corporate policy statement
  • Type of threat involved
  • General/specific
  • Violent/nonviolent
  • Effect on others
  • Coworkers
  • Target
  • Examples relating to safety in modern workplace

4)  Caselaw on similar threats

5)  Decision in this case: the facts suggest that threat was real. Internal appellate-review board agreed.

6)  Conclusion