Lu-Hai Liang

thoughts from a freelance foreign correspondent

What should a freelance journalist do in the summer?

with 3 comments

My productivity lately has nosedived. Temperatures in Beijing meanwhile peaked  – last week it hit 41 Celsius. Summer in general is a difficult time for me. I find it harder to concentrate on work.

It feels perverse to be indoors hunched over staring at a computer screen when people are doing summery things. Hormones also go through the roof (or is that just me?) and the mind drifts toward an addled state fixated on hedonism, idleness and pleasures.

I’ve got a couple of commissioned pieces on the go. My day job (at the TV company) has been more demanding of late, requiring more energy but really that’s an excuse. Another disruption is that I’ve been homeless for about three weeks now. I’ve been staying (and overstaying) on friends’ couches around Beijing, after me and other tenants were kicked out of our rooms by the landlord. Landlords have far too much power.

I finally found a new place I was happy with but can’t move in until June 11th, so tonight I will be sleeping on a couch at my workplace. I’m writing this post now at my office’s desk at 11pm Beijing time.

So what should a freelancer do during this season? I’d like to know what other freelancers do, so please do leave a comment. I guess many cannot really afford to take much time off if their livelihood depend on the income, and they don’t live in a cheaper location such as China. Summer is often a dry period for news and contracted freelancers for newspapers often take time off.

I guess summer is a time for reading, relaxing, doing what humans like to do, traveling, swimming, eating, drinking, lounging, sexing, snorkeling in sapphire waters on a James Bond beach, taking time off and making memories that when the cold and drab colours of winter come back will offer some reserve of sun.

Soon I’ll be reunited with my half Japanese, half Ukrainian Canadian girlfriend in Thailand for 10 days. It’s going to be awesome. In the meantime I will work on two 5000-word essays on the freelancing life in Beijing and my Chinese political heritage for two editors that might one day be powerful champions. I will try to write but I guess I will mostly read. And that is just as important.


The Great Wall Music Festival, May, 2013. It was fun.


Written by Lu-Hai Liang

June 4, 2014 at 2:21 pm

3 Responses

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  1. I think when you move in the new room with air conditioner, everything will be fine. Have you thought about focusing on making videos, since you work in a TV company. You can write so well. I think it won’t be hard for you to grasp video language. Why not try in another entirely different world?

    Gu Jing

    June 9, 2014 at 1:44 pm

  2. Write a book. When I can’t concentrate on work for others I just make a rule to add at least 500 words most days in evening times. Any topic at all; fiction or non-fiction. Great for removing feelings of guilt/inadequacy from otherwise not writing some days. After two-three months you’ve a text that once rendered copy editing and a cover can become an eBook. Then it’s up to the Kindle/Kobo etc markets to judge if its worth buying.

    Gu: A/C units are fantastic but really bump up the power bill. My ambition is to rig up a solar system to power my A/C and computer. Solar set ups are getting cheap now, especially when self-assembled.

  3. […] Looking back to last summer, I spent 20 days in Thailand, and I wrote a post in June entitled “What should a freelance journalist do in the summer?” […]

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