on cultivating good literature

‎So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys - to woo women - and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do.

- Dead Poets Society, 1989  

The english language is a vast one, more than that of the French, the Spanish, the Arabic or the Chinese. Use it well. Cherish, nurture, take advantage of every word you can get your hands on.

(Source: 000111000111)

My Travellogue on Eastern Europe for China Daily

I had the pleasure of visiting Eastern Europe last year with my history class. I wrote a travellogue, and finally it has been published. Bear in mind that China Daily, unfortunately, in some areas has taken a scythe and edited out sensitive information. Please enjoy. And if you want to read it unedited, let me know.

I don’t suppose I really know you very well - but I know you smell like the delicious damp grass that grows near old walls and that your hands are beautiful opening out of your sleeves and that the back of your head is a mossy sheltered cave when there is trouble in the wind and that my cheek just fits the depression in your shoulder.

Zelda Fitzgerald, in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald 

Who knew Zelda could write too.

(Source: engravings)

“Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two. This you cannot do without temperance.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

—Alas, recent event have made me realized how true these words ring. Without sleep, I am completely hopeless, my fingers are dead against the keyboard, and all words falllimp under fatigue. Rarely is anything good I produce sudden, late night inspiration. Sleep 8.5 hours a day - the buttress behind good writing.

A poem needs understanding through the senses. The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore but to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out, it is an experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept mystery.

— John Keats, from the film Bright Star

If Famous Writers had written twilight

Hilarious. Ingenious. My particular favorites are:

Cormac McCarthy

In the opening scene, Edward dashes Bella’s head against a rock and rapes her corpse. Then he and Jacob take off on an unexplained rampage through the West.

Lewis Carroll

Bella takes acid and charts syllogisms.

Ernest Hemingway

Edward and Bella exchange terse dialogue alluding to Edward’s anatomical problem. Eventually, Bella leaves him for Jacob, a local bullfighter with a giant…sense of entitlement.

Raymond Carver

Bella stars as the alcoholic barmaid with daddy issues that Edward, a classic abuser, exploits. When Bella’s old friend Jacob comes to visit and is shocked by her bruises, she thinks about leaving him, but instead hits the gin bottle. Hard.

Haruki Murakami:

Bella has sex with Edward, who is half a ghost. Jacob is a talking cat. Most of the prose is given over to descriptions of Bella making pasta.

First World Problems

I don’t like this expression “First World problems.” It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn’t disappear just because you’re black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here’s a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are.


Teju Cole, author of Open City

Although the phrase ‘first world problems,’ ultimately is a meme, and memes ultimately serve the purpose of poking fun through the use of harmless stereotypes, this view presented by Teju Cole is an interesting one. In fact, I think it is perhaps an excellent comment on how everyone should percieve the world and its nations - nuanced, complex and more connected (especially in the globalized world) than you ever thought it to be.

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

C. S. Lewis 

A message to the hipsters/ fellow aspiring writers who seem to love to stuff their writing with sometimes irritatingly bizzare language and plot twists. Sure, stay away from the cliches, but don’t make that extra effort to be original.

(Source: larmoyante)

Oh god it’s wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much.

Frank O’Hara 

I’ve never studied O’Hara’s poetry extensively, but this poem, short and sweet, is so nice, that I am seriously tempted to read some more Beats poetry. I’ll consult my friend the Chinese Panda, perhaps she has some words of wisdom to pass down to me.

(Source: fleurishes)