Monday, May 12, 2008


From my mother and her mother I have received more than I can ever write about. Today, I just want to highlight one trait in each of them that continues to inspire me in my writing.

My mother wrote a newspaper column for over twenty years, while holding down a full time job. She wrote anything from two to four articles per week. She never waited for inspiration or moped around about writers' block. She just hunched over her paper with little green blocks that were typical for Chinese writing (we lived in Malaysia and she wrote for a Chinese newspaper) and produced what she needed.

My grandmother was illiterate; her impact on me as a writer came from her overall attitude toward work. She never shirked from any task, no matter how tedious or how difficult. From cutting vegetables to sewing seams to cleaning up after meals, I had to re-do tasks to her specifications--only to see her re-do them yet again. I learned from her that there are no shortcuts and no substitution for work well done. She wasn't aware of such notions as "taking pride in one's work"; that was just the way she lived.

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