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Quarrying for Idea

Quarrying for Idea

Tuesday, May 22

Zhong Shu Ge (Jing’an Temple branch)

19:00 – 20:30

作家/Writers: Christian Y. Schmidt (德国/Germany), Colombe Schneck (法国/France), 黄德海/Huang Dehai (中国/China), 薛舒/ Xue Shu (中国/China)


Four authors gathered together at Zhongshuge-Jing’an temple store to share their experience of ideas and inspiration. After brief introduction to their experience and creative works respectively, four writers talked about their opinions on how to derive inspirations when writing.


Christian, a German writer who have been living in China, talked about his experience at first. He mentioned his trip with his friends and said:” Initially, I want to create something out of this trip. However, it began to dawn on me that I cannot remember everything we have talked about. So I turned to a wide range of scientific books on memory. And I found that everyone forgets. If we somehow manage to remember something, that will be us creating something because the process of recalling is a process of recreating.”


“Another source of inspiration lies in scientific books.” said Christian, “If my knowledge runs out when I am writing, the storyline will unfold itself and all the characters seem to come to alive with their own thoughts and opinions. That is the most intriguing part.” He said,” The last source is about stealing from others‘ works, for example, David Lynch’ s Twin Peaks.



Shu Xue, a writer from Shanghai mentioned that” Inspiration is something you come across with instead of mining for. It is like kicking some block of gold when walking at night, if you plan thoroughly, chances are that what you find is just a piece of rock.” She talked about how it feels when looking at names on tombs on Tomb-sweeping day , ”You will have this picture that a young tomb carving man fell in love with an elegant name on the tomb”


French writer slash director Colombe said with humor that writers were in truth “thieves” and also liars, “I will effortlessly steal away the stories from my family and also modify some facts and memories when necessary. My inspiration comes from reading and my family. “She talked about her colorful apartment, her nightmare and family stories related to these, which worth her thinking and pursuing.


Editor slash writer Huang Dehai said,” Personally, I do not trust inspiration. He believed that “Before struggling for ideas and inspirations, what matters is me asking myself where my heart will settle. It is this self-requiring process that lead him to creation. It is not about how you make some inspiration.”


Are inspirations from life better that from reading?

Christian responded, “Fictions always seem easier than non-fictions. But that’s not true. Although novels won’t put facts on top of the priorities, they have their internal logic that they have to follow. Authors themselves will not make up everything from scratch. Writing always puts you at the crossroads, making you wonder which one is real and always be true to the soul of the book.”


If something has never happened to you, will you describe it like it happened?

Shu Xue said , “There is no way that we experience every kind of life, but the similarities amongst human beings are something we can grab on. Events will serve as some trigger which encourage me to create something.” In terms of sources of inspirations, Xue reckoned that “ Reading is just a way you learn about lives. The real source comes from the real life. Life is just a beginning and the story is made-up but the emotions are real.”



Will the commercial potentials be taken into consideration?

“Zero. “said Colombe, “ If I intend to write about a Chinese sailor from the 18th century, it is because that something about it attracts me. All the reasons that lie behind my works are selfish. I need this kind of self-redemption. I want to live better. I want to know about the history and where I come from. “She said, ” It is a good thing if the books sell well, but I will not write something to just make money.”


Huang Dehai quoted Confucius “If the search for riches is sure to be successful, though I should become a groom with whip in hand to get them, I will do so. As the search may not be successful, I will follow after that which I love.”for his answer. He encouraged creators to do something they enjoyed.” It is humble pride for literature.”


After the sharing of four authors, audience raised some questions of their own.


Do you worry about failing in the beginning of writing?

Colomebe said that this worrisome never went away. “ In the whole process of beginning, half way through it and publishing , pressure is always there. Writing is a scary job but at the same time with freedom and joy.


Huang Dehai said:” You made the choice to write, then you have to bear with the imperfection that came along with it. You made progress while you discovered the shortcomings. But writing brings something bigger. When the timing is right, it will be like a box clicking closed. Though it lasts for just a second, the happiness is actually better than success.”


When asked about how to keep creating during the writing, four writers all thought that writing needed passion for real. “You have to write something every day even though they are not that good. Because they will be good unless you stop writing”