Monday, January 5, 2009

Give Yourself Time to Do Well....to Enjoy

Happy New Year. I hope you enjoyed the holidays. We had a house of twelve, relatives from the midwest and southern CA, and we enjoyed so much--endless games of Scrabble and Charades and Ghost--that this morning everyone left the house as though going off for a lethal injection.

One of our interesting trips was to San Francisco. Initially, I wasn't planning to go. I had a thousand other things to do (send off Holiday cards, read a manuscript, figure out dinner.) However, my favorite sister-in-law insisted I join. As we were a big group (11) we took two cars, and I told my husband we should just meet the rest of the crew for lunch in Chinatown and then come home.

I had forgotten what a vortex Chinatown is. There are so many things to see (people were playing ancient instruments on the street the day we went). So many shops to browse--the fresh vegetable shops, the medicine store (we needed our cold medicine 999), the inexpensive luggage place, the Chinese New Year store, etc.

We didn't stay as long as we wished and we still got home later than our relatives. In fact, by the time we got back, they had fixed dinner.

I had to laugh at myself. I'm always doing this. Most often with writing. Often I just want to get the day's writing done, done, done, as I have a dozen other things on my plate. I don't allow myself time to enjoy and explore the scene or the character, instead rushing in with "only enough time for lunch." I end up feeling cheated ...and still late to pick up the kids from school.

So, in this New Year, lets give ourselves time to do the important things well. And to Enjoy.

**One great book I read over the holidays was Fortune Catcher
by Susanne Pari. The story focuses on what happens when life as you've come to know it becomes illegal, immoral, a reason for your death. Laylee, a woman born in Iran but raised in both Iran and the US, returns one year with her Iranian fiance to marry, and the country they knew and loved had disappeared and been replaced by religious fanatics. A fascinating read.

**Hope to see you at the opening of the Milpitas Library this Saturday, 1pm at 160 North Main Street, Milpitas. :)

7 comments:

beckylevine said...

I'm sitting here just getting ready to reaquaint myself with the MC in my new WIP (Sorry to be so acronym-heavy!), and I'm feeling just like this. I was going to dig in and write a scene, but I'm just going to look through my notes, punch a written scene into the binder, and say "hi." See what comes. :)

Jana McBurney-Lin said...

What is an MC? A WIP? I'm trying to think what they might be...a Male Courier? A Wand In Progress? Please tell us more.

beckylevine said...

This is a fun game--mega chicken? wild inner person? :)

Main Character.
Work in Progress (of which, thanks to ANOTHER idea today, I now have FOUR!!!!)

Jana McBurney-Lin said...

I like Wild Inner Person...and the idea of reacquainting yourself with that WIP. But no, you reaquainted with the Mega-chicken. Oh well. Four wips? That sounds fun...or overwhelming...but mostly fun. Here's to your creativity!

beckylevine said...

Overwhelming, definitely. But in that good, sick way!

Lynn said...

OK, slightly off topic from the WIPS and MCs, but have you read Wallace Stegner's book "On Teaching and Writing Fiction"? I just finished it and think you'd really like it. About being willing to take criticism on your work (or rather your WIP): "The essentials are only two: taking a piece of writing seriously; and criticizing it with a view to helping it be what it wants to be. It cannot be done without some degree of abrasion. You don't sharpen a knife on a cake of soap."

I hope you'll fill us in on your next blog entry about the Milpitas library opening :) Must . . . have . . . details. :)

Jana McBurney-Lin said...

I love that analogy--about not being able to sharpen a knife on a cake of soap. I'll have to read the rest. Thanks.

What People Are Saying About My Half of the Sky

My Half of the Sky was the BookSense Pick for August 2006 as well as a Forbes Book Club Pick.

"McBurney-Lin tells a wonderfully entertaining story with the traditional coming-of-age theme (which is experienced universally)...weaving in the cultural challenges of growing up in China's rapidly changing social system."
Mary Warpeha, co-President of the Minnesota Chapter of US-China Friendship Association
March 2010


"The novel ...includes many of the tales and the folk ways of the people living in the rural areas of South China, still followed provincially. The story takes place in current China, but could relate the dilemma of any young woman in rural China through the ages."
Kitty Trescott, National Board of the Midwest Region of US-China Friendship Association. March 2010

"A lot is expected of a young Chinese girl. My Half of the Sky by Jana McBurney-Lin is the story of Li Hui, a young girl who has just achieved marriageable age. She seeks to make the most of herself, but the expectations all around her make it difficult, as her parents seek to use her as pawn to their advantage, she is faced with what she believes to be true love. She must balance career, romance, and family, all to somehow make everyone happy, a tough endeavor indeed. An engaging and entertaining read from beginning to end, "My Half of the Sky" is a poignant tale of the modern Chinese woman, and recommended for community library collections.
--Midwest Book Review November, 2008

“It is a rare women’s novel that sensitively describes the life of a young educated woman in modern-day China in its full complexity, without resorting to unnecessary sentimentalism. Jana’s deep knowledge of the realities of life in China and Singapore makes the reading extra rewarding. In fact, with every new page the novel gets harder to put down and you find yourself gobbling it up before you know it. Finally, the author has given a voice to the Li Hui in all of us, as we struggle for the golden middle between tradition and the modern momentum of our world.”
Isabella Sluzek
Friends of the Museum Book Review 2008
Singapore

You'll be rooting all the way for Li Hui as she struggles, ahead of the curve, to be her own woman in an emerging, modern China. Jana McBurney-Lin's My half of the Sky is a beautiful, witty, touching debut novel.
Thomas B. Sawyer
Head Writer TV Series "Murder, She Wrote,"
Author - The Sixteenth Man


A complex and mesmerizingly original tale of a young Chinese woman caught between the modern world and the pull of her ancient culture. McBurney-Lin’s intimate portrait of China sparks with insights and is peopled with characters so rich and alive, they seem to breathe on the page. Dazzling and unforgettable.
Caroline Leavitt,
Author - Girls in Trouble

McBurney-Lin's debut novel is a gift. Li Hui is a memorable heroine, a young woman torn between her heart and her culture.Her daunting journey is a trip into China's complicated soul, and a deeply moving exploration of love, honor, duty, and loss." Frank Baldwin, Author - Balling the Jack


My Half of the Sky is a wonderfully-crafted story that was obviously written with a piece of McBurney-Lin's heart. A masterpiece."
Lee Lofland, Author - Howdunit: Police Procedure and Investigation


My Half of the Sky heralds the arrival of a fantastic new storyteller. With artistry and precision, Jana McBurney-Lin's clear-eyed prose takes the reader on a new journey into a past world that speaks to a modern sensibility, a modern world, a modern woman. This is a book to be treasured.
Emily Rapp, Author - The Poster Child


Through vivid descriptions of sights and smells, Jana McBurney-Lin's My Half of the Sky is a haunting, emotional journey of what it means to be an honorable female in modern China. Jill Ferguson, Author - Sometimes Art Can't Save You