Sunday, February 05, 2012

On Esme Weijun Wang's "Things I Have Done Alone"

A few days ago, the feminist blog Jezebel ran a piece by writer Esme Weijun Wang, called "Things I Have Done Alone." It's since had several comments calling it indulgent or dense. At first, I had no idea. When I finished it I was stunned, and thought Oh my God, I know exactly how she feels.

Okay, maybe not exactly. No people can feel 100% alike. But that piece really resonated with me, like each sentence was my own heartbeats. I've gone to parties where you go in expecting one thing but leave with quite another. I've read a phenomenal book that changed the way I write. I've gone to live concerts and been swept away by the music ... hasn't everybody?

I suppose not. The piece is gorgeous and incredibly honest, but it's something I think mainly writers can appreciate. For instance, take this line:

"Triumphantly went to the printing room to print the 400+ paged draft. Stood with my hand on the hot pages, warm."

A non-writer might say "Huh?" and scratch her head, but I instantly recognized that moment. When you finish a book, and you have that first draft in your hands, still hot from the printer, it's an incredible moment. All the work of months, years ... it's right there, in something you created. That's something you, and no one else, accomplished.

I just hope the writer doesn't get discouraged, because her work is lovely and I want to read that 400-page manuscript.

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