Lu-Hai Liang

thoughts from a freelance foreign correspondent

Posts Tagged ‘january

January, 2019

leave a comment »

img_6620

I’ve spent most of this month indoors. Most people do. Whether it’s in an office or in the confines of a house, we are usually bound by four walls. I go running from time to time. I borrowed Karl Ove Knausgaard’s fifth novel in his tetralogy Min Kamp from Hastings library and ploughed through its 660 pages. He’s a Norwegian writer and writes about his life in fictive form but with the honesty and detail of autobiography. It’s been termed auto-fiction.

In this fifth book Some Rain Must Fall he writes about his time as a student living in Bergen attending a writing course, his low opinion of himself, his attempts at being a fiction writer set against the successes of two friends, who are younger and more precocious than him, and about his relationship with his older brother, his family, and his romances with women. Two things stand out from the book: despite being a good-looking, almost two-metres tall Norwegian writer with ambition, his extremely low self esteem, and the clarity and rhythm of his sentences that are so reflective of whatever he is writing about.

He is a writer who is attuned to nature. He doesn’t write the names of trees; he just refers to trees as “trees”, rather than as pines or oaks or whatever, and he uses descriptions of nature and weather very well.

When I go running it’s usually on country roads, or through a local wood, and on muddy fields. It’s cold in January, of course, and I’ve noticed that my mood is usually low and depressed this time of year, especially the initial couple of weeks. It always passes. Emotions are just like weather; they move and pass through.

I’ve spent January working on a piece of nonfiction for a writing competition and on short stories. I like writing literature and I hope at some point I can do it fulltime. It will take time.

For my freelance journalism “career” I’ve sent out 12 pitches to editors. I’ve received one commission, one expression of interest, two rejections, and the rest of the pitches I received no reply despite my follow-ups. As you can see that’s not a good hit rate. The trick is not to be disheartened, to persevere, and to make sure future pitches are better.

I’ve continued working for a marketing company as an editor, copywriter, and consultant. I enjoy it and I wouldn’t mind doing more of it. Having diverse income streams is a good idea for a freelancer.

For this year I would like to branch out more beyond journalism. I have some ideas and I want to test them. The road ahead is not very clear to me. But I will let you know how they turn out.

Lately, I read an interesting article. It’s headlined The Equation That Will Make You Better at Everything [link]. The equation is simple and it reminded me of something that I should apply to the things I do. That is get out of my comfort zone. If I find myself cruising, stuck on autopilot, and going through the motions, I should find work that challenges me. If you’re a freelance journalist, that means getting a commission that will make you feel slightly uncomfortable, slightly scared, and under pressure, because you know the task will demand more of you than going through the motions.

Feeling uncomfortable is the only way to grow.

Advertisements

Written by Lu-Hai Liang

January 27, 2019 at 11:24 pm

11th January — in Ninfield

leave a comment »

I have been at home, living at my parent’s house. They live in a village called Ninfield, in southeast England. It’s about half an hour’s drive from Hastings, the seaside town where I grew up. Round here it’s green fields, country homes, and little churches.

It’s been raining a lot. Daffodils bloom outside due to the warmest December in Britain on record.

I’ve not had much to do. I do some editing for a PR firm. Wrote a couple of travel articles for an Aussie website which will pay well. Sent a couple of pitches out earlier this week.

But January is usually a quiet month for freelancers. Although if I was in China, I’d have quite a bit on my plate as there’s a lot going on right now.

There is not much to do in Ninfield. It’s a village so it’s a very small place. There are no cafes and just a few shops. There are two pubs and a post office. Mostly I’ve been at home, exercising a little on a camping mat I bought, and reading the internet and watching TV.

Occasionally I go out for a walk. It’s muddy and wet and the grass is very green. I’ve enjoyed the British weather and the countryside. I went walking one day and I was taking photos on my phone of the scenery. In front of me there was a field that sloped downward toward the horizon, with a farmstead at the bottom, and horses in the field.

One approached me after I had stood there for a while taking pictures. He probably was wondering what I was doing and wanted to take a look.

I am starting to get antsy cooped up at home. Wanderlust fills me. I am kinda glad I am not in Beijing right now. I know it well enough to know that Beijing in January is a dangerous place and I’ve always tended toward a bleak and depressed mood in the city at this time of year.

*

On Christmas eve, my old school friends and I will usually meet at a pub and have drinks. It’s a kind of tradition. We’ll also meet up at one of our friend’s houses for a catch-up and we’ll go play football. That’s also become a tradition.

We don’t see each other very often. Sometimes just once or twice a year.

One is in the army, having returned from Afghanistan. Another works for a medical company with wife and newborn son. Another works for a water company up north. Another is well traveled and often abroad.

*

Tomorrow I go to London. And the day after I go to a national newspaper’s office to meet editors with whom I’ve corresponded but have never met.

I’m also reading a book by a Norwegian. I’ve not read him before. I came upon a passage, in which the author writes about his experience having just moved to the north of Norway, to teach at a school, while he writes, at the age of 18. And I remembered a little how I felt at that age.

“All the books I liked were basically about the same topic…Books about young men who struggled to fit into society, who wanted more from life than routines, more from life than a family, in short, young men who hated middle-class values and sought freedom…Everything they wanted I wanted too”.

Written by Lu-Hai Liang

January 10, 2016 at 11:02 pm