I took a week away from the computer and it was very restful. I’m trying to work out ways to focus more on my writing, less on anxiety and the quotidian, and staying offline was a definite help. During my week away I read several books, including Anchee Min’s Pearl of China. The book is Min’s tribute to Pearl Buck, about whom I personally knew very little–I didn’t know, for instance, that she grew up in China and spoke several Chinese dialects with native fluency. Min’s tribute is part reverence and part remorse–she was forced by Madame Mao to help lead the denunciations of Buck inside China.
In Pearl of China, Min describes a love affair between Buck and the Chinese romantic poet Hsu Chih-mo. Min’s narrator is a writer, but she says for Buck and Hsu Chih-mo, writing was “air and rice:” they needed to write in order to live, as much as they need air and food.
I feel that I have moved too far away from my writing in the last few years, that I’m too filled with anxieties, “getting and spending,” laying waste my powers. Air and rice. I hope to become more interior, return to the written word as a source of joy. I’ll keep you posted on the journey.