And Quotes

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  1. We write to taste life twice: in the moment and in retrospection.
  2. Cause I’m a musician, I’m not really good at posing and being a model, like, modeling.
  3. Having listened to great songwriters like James Taylor and Carole King, I felt there was nothing new that was coming out that really represented me and the way I felt. So I started writing my own stuff.
  4. I always wrote poetry and stuff like that, so putting songs together wasn’t that spectacular.
  5. I don’t listen to a lot of new stuff. I just like the old stuff. It’s all quite dramatic and atmospheric. You’d have an entire story in song. I never listen to, like, white music – I couldn’t sing you a Zeppelin or Floyd song.
  6. I know I’m talented, but I wasn’t put here to sing. I was put here to be a wife and a mom and look after my family. I love what I do, but it’s not where it begins and ends.
  7. I listen to music that is of our time and I just get angry.
  8. I made an album I’m very proud of, and that’s about it.
  9. I read a lot when I’m travelling and always have a couple of books on the go.
  10. I really thought I was on the way out. My husband Blake saved my life. Often I don’t know what I do, then the next day the memory returns. And then I am engulfed in shame.
  11. I write songs about stuff that I can’t really get past personally – and then I write a song about it and I feel better.
  12. I’m my own worst critic, and if I don’t pull off what I think I wanted to do in my head, then I won’t be a happy girl.
  13. Life’s short. Anything could happen, and it usually does, so there is no point in sitting around thinking about all the ifs, ands and buts.
  14. My husband is everything to me and without him it’s just not the same.
  15. My parents pretty much realized that I would do whatever I wanted, and that was it, really.
  16. Now I think that going to the gym is the best drug. I go four times a week and it gives me the buzz I need.
  17. Some people reckoned that I looked healthier when I was bigger but I had terrible skin and no energy.
  18. The jazz I love is sweet and pure with raw elements, which is exactly what the good hip-hop is doing now.
  19. When I’m nervous, I stutter, and I had to keep stopping and starting.
  20. When you’re around kids you can be a little kid yourself and pretend that life is magic and you don’t have to be one of those sweaty people going to work every day.
  21. At the beginning of my career as a writer, I felt I knew nothing of Chinese culture. I was writing about emotional confusion with my mother related to our different beliefs. Hers was based in family history, which I didn’t know anything about. I always felt hesitant in talking about Chinese culture and American culture.
  22. Chinese artists have been subversive over thousands of years, taking what they think of the government and embedding it in their art. There might be censorship of not going as far as they might.
  23. I also thought of playing improvisational jazz and I did take lessons for a while. At first I tried to write fiction by making up things that were completely alien to my life.
  24. I felt ashamed of being different and ashamed of feeling that way.
  25. I grew up with Bible stories, which are like fairy tales, because my father was a minister. We heard verses and prayers every day. I liked the gorier Bible stories. I did have a book of Chinese fairy tales. All the people except the elders looked like Italians. But we were not a family that had fiction books.
  26. I have survivor skills. Some of that is superficial – what I present to people outwardly – but what makes people resilient is the ability to find humour and irony in situations that would otherwise overpower you.
  27. I just feel very lucky to be able to write fiction because I think, otherwise, I would have had to spend a fortune on a psychiatrist – and I still wouldn’t get 1/100th of what I get writing fiction.
  28. I learned to forgive myself, and that enabled me to forgive my mother as a person.
  29. I like to go somewhere where I learn something I didn’t know before, like the Dry Tortugas between Florida and Cuba.
  30. I loved fairy tales when I was a kid. Grimm. The grimmer the better. I loved gruesome gothic tales and, in that respect, I liked Bible stories, because to me they were very gothic.
  31. I measured my success by how many clients I had and how many billable hours I had.
  32. I saw my mother in a different light. We all need to do that. You have to be displaced from what’s comfortable and routine, and then you get to see things with fresh eyes, with new eyes.
  33. I started a second novel seven times and I had to throw them away.
  34. I think I’ve always been somebody, since the deaths of my father and brother, who was afraid to hope. So, I was more prepared for failure and for rejection than for success.
  35. I thought I was clever enough to write as well as these people and I didn’t realize that there is something called originality and your own voice.
  36. I wanted to write stories for myself. At first it was purely an aesthetic thing about craft. I just wanted to become good at the art of something. And writing was very private.
  37. I was shocked, and I ended up contacting three academics to find out if it could possibly be that my grandmother was a courtesan.
  38. I went to an exhibition at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum about Shanghai, about how courtesans had been influential in bringing western culture to Shanghai. I bought a book and in it saw this striking group of women in a photograph called ‘The Ten Beauties of Shanghai’.
  39. I would find myself laughing and wondering where these ideas came from. You can call it imagination, I suppose. But I was grateful for wherever they came from.
  40. I would still like to have that luxury, to be able to just sit and draw for hours and hours and hours. In a way, that’s what I do as a writer.
  41. I write because I know that one day I will die, and thus I should experience as many deliberate observations, careful thoughts, wild ideas, and deep emotions as I can before that day occurs.
  42. I’m open to reading almost anything – fiction, nonfiction – as long as I know from the first sentence or two that this is a voice I want to listen to for a good long while. It has much to do with imagery and language, a particular perspective, the assured knowledge of the particular universe the writer has created.
  43. I’m usually woken by a vibration on my up-band. It’s the gradual vibration for about ten seconds, and then the chimes of my blue light. It’s just a way to wake gently. It all gently puts me into awake-mode. I play music off of my Sonos playlist. ‘The Rachmaninoff Concerto 3 in D-minor’, 1st movement.
  44. In a second-class courtesan house, the courtship was much briefer. It could even be one night; usually it went on a little bit longer. But as the years went by, that period of courtship was shorter and shorter.
  45. In the mid-1800s, they were known also as ‘singsong houses,’ and the courtesans were actually master musicians.
  46. It’s both rebellion and conformity that attack you with success.
  47. Luck is in every part of China. Many Chinese stores and restaurants have the word ‘luck’ in their names. The idea is that, just by using the word ‘luck’ in names of things, you can attract more of it. I think that’s true in my life as well. You attract luck because you go after it.
  48. Mothers have this huge influence, and I feel like they’re always teaching us from the day we’re born what to be afraid of, what to be cautious of, what we should like, and what we should look like.
  49. My breakfast is usually a wholegrain cereal or porridge, with walnuts sprinkled in it, berries, a tablespoon of honey, and chia seeds. I have coffee and a little cherry juice with seltzer. I have a seat by the window, and I look out at the view.
  50. My favorite anything is always relative to the context of present time, place and mood. When I finish a book and want to immediately find another by the same author and no other, that author is elevated to my favorite.