Sunday, October 25, 2009

Changing Faces

A big fan of figure skating, when the sport is in season, I seldom miss an event watching it on TV. Since I watched it in the early '90s, I've seen change. By that, I don't mean the change in the scoring system, but the faces on the podium. At one point, the Russians dominated in almost every category in the international competitions, such as the Grand Prix and the World Championship; then, winners from America, Canada, France, and the other European countries alternately took the medals. When we marched into the Twenty-first Century, skaters from Japan and China emerged. The Chinese pairs and the Japanese women and men respectively got on the podium. Even South Korea is catching up. Besides, on the American team there're Chinese and Japanese Americans. I consider the change of faces in the sport a version of globalization. When it comes to globalization, many people tend to think of economy. If we look outside that box, we'll see different versions of globalization.

As I said on Facebook, I can draw parallels between skating and writing. Like writers, skaters need to pay attention to detail. They also have to heed transition, flow, and other things. It takes lots of skills and practices in both skating and writing.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

On Writing: Strong Characters

What makes a story great? There're numerous ways. One of them is to create strong characters, especially the P and the A. So, it's important to populate our fictional worlds with strong characters. A strong and memorable character that comes to my mind at the moment is Scarlet O'Hara. What makes her strong and memorable? If you've read Gone with the Wind or seen the movie, you get the idea. I read the book once years ago and saw the movie several times. Every time I saw it, I enjoyed it just like the first time I watched it.

I'm glad to have let my fantasy novel cool down for a few months. During this period, I read books outside the genre and discovered that I have a lot of thinking to do before the next revision. The down time has served me well.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

On Polygamy

I like to poke fun at the world. When America had a shortage of flu vaccine in 2004, I had to go to Canada for a flu shot. Afterward, I wrote a ten-minute play Invading Canada to make fun of it. When America had a presidential election focused on "change" in 2008, I wrote some haiku to commemorate the unprecedented event mockingly. When I penned a memoir essay about my polygamist father, I wrote a limerick to ridicule polygamists in general, my father in particular. Here's the limerick:

"A middle-ager who was a polygamist,
had a dozen women on the mailing list.
Every night he had to choose,
every ounce of his energy oozed.
And he bragged about womanly conquest
being a polygamist."

Well, my father would probably frown on it and rise from his grave and shout: "How dare you poke fun at me!"

What do you think I should say to him? Any suggestions?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

On Our Firsts

Do you remember your first day at school? I don't remember my first day at a Chinese language school, nor do I remember my first day at an English language school in Cholon, Vietnam. But I remember, part of it, my first day at Kishwaukee College in Malta, IL in 1985. It was very exciting! A brand-new life, a hope, and a dream burst in front of me!

As a writer, I remember the first time I received recognition for my play. It was the first play I'd ever written in my life and I wrote it at age forty-two and with no previous playwriting experience. I was awestruck when I saw my short play being a finalist of George Kernodle Playwriting Competition in 1991 along with my professor's. It was a playwriting competition open to playwrights all over America.

One thing I got out of this is: you're never too old to start writing. Unlike athletes who, after reaching a certain age, will have to stop playing, no one will or can tell me that I'm too old to write as long as I remain mentally sharp and know the crafts and arts of writing. Look at some of our best-selling authors, such as David McCullough, Jimmy Carter, and J. R. R. Tolkein's son, are all over eighty years of age. Writing is one of the professions that know no age discrimination. Boy, am I not delighted to be in the right business.