Lu-Hai Liang

thoughts from a freelance foreign correspondent

Posts Tagged ‘writer’s life

Taipei, Taiwan: why I stayed 55 days in the same place

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The answer? To focus on writing.

I have been here 53 days and I leave the day after tomorrow. I’ve been here almost two months, which was not part of the plan. Originally, I had intended to travel around Taiwan; heading to the central mountainous region, the food meccas of the south, and a smaller island where I was hoping to take pictures that I could potentially sell. After that, I had hoped to go somewhere else — the Philippines, most probably — on the way to Beijing, which is where I need to be at the end of this month, to cover a business event for a US magazine.

All of that came not to pass. I stayed in Taipei. I learned that June is a terrible month to travel around Asia, as most everywhere, excepting northern parts, are in rainy season. Oh well. And so, I’ve spent all of the time, apart from one Sunday, in Taipei, where it has been hot, rainy, and mostly overcast.

(Pictured: That one time I left Taipei. Thanks Rei Rei for taking me!)

But that’s just how life is sometimes — it pulls you to places you had not planned on being pulled. In my case, I’ve followed my desire to be productive; to create, rather than to consume. (Like I said in my previous post, travel is another kind of consumption.) Instead of traveling around Taiwan, I decided to dwell in Taipei, and I have not even left my neighbourhood much, so I can concentrate on creating.

Over the course of my stay, I’ve finished writing a nonfiction book proposal. This entailed completing a 10,000-word sample, a synopsis, and a chapter-by-chapter breakdown. It’s quite a lot of work but I got it done, and by staying in one place, not venturing far and doing routine things — such as eating sweet potatoes for breakfast bought at the convenience store around the corner; going swimming at the local sports centre; walking around nearby gardens — it has helped my productivity.

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Is this goodbye Beijing?

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Beijing and its endless streets and expanse of concrete desert, where it can take a lot of effort to arrange social affairs.

It’s coming up to three years since I arrived in Beijing — three years in which I’ve made friends and lost friends, through the simple drift of life.

In this time I’ve been broke numerous times, have had to scrape and meander. I’ve had starry nights and schemes come to fruition, and moments seldom preconceived.

But what am I doing now? Am I moving forward — is misery just going through the motions?

You might not understand the dilemma and that is fine. I shall put it plainly.

I could never have realized just how hard it is to succeed as a writer.

I could never have imagined what a crossroads sometimes life can be.

I do not want to work to earn money so I can pay the rent, so I can buy more things I do not need.

My instinct tells me I should move out of Beijing and head to some other places in China and stay with friends. Read, write, sleep. Convalesce.

Try to write more — that’s more important than anything. And yet why torture myself? I could do a job that’s enjoyable and worthwhile, and write on the side.

Many writers have had multiple lives. I feel like I should have those lives, because in the end it will make me better and more varied.

There’s no one telling you what your next move should be. There’s no path to follow or predetermined step. Always thus.

Money is and will always be an issue. When you’re younger you think –you’re sure of it in fact– that at some stage you will be wealthy and have enough money to do the things you want to do. But at some stage, it becomes clear that those riches might not become reality.

But that’s fine?

I should go somewhere awhile and figure things out.

Written by Lu-Hai Liang

July 22, 2015 at 10:51 am