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When writing fiction hurts the people you love

(From The Literary Hub. Link to the complete article given below)

I was sitting in the Science Center Library, reading Paradise Lost. This was in the late 1970s, when I was an English major at Harvard. There are famously gorgeous libraries at Harvard, but I preferred to sit in one of the uglier spaces, beneath buzzing fluorescent lights, with calculators clicking all around me. I was unlikely to run into anyone I knew in the Science Center, though there was no reason for me to be so furtive. It’s just the way I am, habitually keeping to myself. Private and solitary.

I came to the end of the poem. Adam and Eve, our guilty parents, cast out of the garden. But then: “The world was all before them, where to choose / Their place of rest. . . They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow, / Through Eden took their solitary way.” The lines hit a nerve and I burst into tears. Loud, gulpy, snot-filled sobs. In the middle of the Science Center, for everyone to hear. I could not stop. I sat in that cubicle and wept and wept.

Guilt has always moved me. I imagine the pain someone must have been in to do whatever awful thing he did and want him to have another chance. Such possibly kind, possibly stupid empathy is useful for a writer, but it’s not the whole story. My mother was a war survivor and I inherited her unspoken guilt at having made it out alive, but that doesn’t fully explain it, either. I feel guilty for being a fiction writer. I’m not referring to the self-doubt many of us feel about making up stories while the world burns. I’m talking about the suffering we cause by writing.

Read more at the Lit Hub link here


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The poetry of pain defines author’s new collection: Zhao Lihong

By Xing Yi


While Zhao Lihong is defined by his prose in China, the writer says poetry is what drives him.

In November, Zhao released a collection of his poems that delve into an eternal literary theme – agony and pain.

Titled Pain, the book contains 51 poems, most of which were written in the past three years.

“Writing poems is a very personal thing. When ideas come to my mind, I note them down,” Zhao said during a book tour in Beijing last month.

“Some ideas appear during my travels on planes and trains, and some come to me in my dreams.”

Zhao’s collection includes a poem from his unpublished writings of 1982, in which he writes: “Joy is the shell, but pain is the essence.”

Born in Shanghai in 1952, like many from his generation, Zhao experienced the “cultural revolution” (1966-76) when normal college education was interrupted in the country.

In those years, he was sent to work on the farmlands of Chongming, an island county on the Yangtze River. The work exhausted him and the lack of books or companions bored him. It was then that he started to write – both prose and poetry. Read more

Source: China Daily