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Three Rules for Writing

There is no fixed rules for things to write or not to write in literature creation. Writers will create a set of criteria that are effective and useful for themselves as well as for each creative writing project. In this fifth sharing event in Suzhou, the Chinese novelist Ai Wei, the Portuguese novelist José Luís Peixoto, the Chinese short novelist Qiao Ye, and the Latvian novelist Dace Vigante came to share with the audience their interpretation of what they have in mind on three rules of writing.

Ms. Qiao Ye believes that she has summed up her three criteria in her 20 years of writing: honesty, independence, and down to earth. Honesty is the first morality of writing. She believes that the fictitious plot of a novel is just a shell, and the real core is honesty. She likes a remark made by Kafka very much: “Speaking the truth is the hardest, because it is irreplaceable.” Chinese writer Mo Yan also interprets this point: “to write good people as villains, write bad people as good people, and write yourself as a sinner.” Regarding to independence, it is not merely confrontation with the outside world, the pursuit of freedom, it is more a requirement for the self. People are ordinary, being kidnapped by morality, confined by readers’ preferences and limited by popular and fashionable things, thus they must insist on themselves then they can be independent. Regarding to down to earth, it is a term with Chinese characteristics from dialect in North China. She described herself as a writer without genius. She was inspired by real life to create her own writing. Down to earth has causal relationship with the two preceding points — honesty and independence. To observe the lively and vivid reality, what you see and what you think and express yourselves when you start creative writing. For her, reality has given her confidence and it is the source independence.

Ms. Dace Vigante likes Hemingway’s remarks very much: “Prose is a building, we must abide by the rules when we build it.” Being a lawyer years ago, Dace used to sympathize the life in rules. But as engaged in writing, she learned to create her own rules. Her style is realism. She focused the lives of ordinary people, vocalized difficulties that cannot be expressed in people’s heart, confusion from the young, and sometimes resorted to psychological counselors to obtain more real materials. She never judge but interpret the character from multi angles.

Every book is different from the already published ones, and Mr. José Luís Peixoto enjoys ushering in such challenges. He will not do what is within his grasp. He believes that writing a novel is not about making up a story, but about processing knowledge about history and other subjects. Writing something completely new to him is a kind of ambition. When writing a new book, you may aim at a strong point of view that you have identified in your heart and will always stick to it. In writing, he usually combines the already finished books and writings with the current one to find out why he write and think about the deep rooted reason. For him, the first rule is to start writing, to prove to everyone that he is a writer. One generates two, two generates three and three students, step by step a book will be created.

Mr. Ai Wei explained this topic from the perspective of methodology. He held the view that writing is to find the right way to imagine. People and things in the world are easy to be solidified and signified. However, for writer, each word and phrase carry with them certain degree of emotion and mood. Regard each character as their own relatives, and imagine all the details. All the descriptions will be complex and well-developed if the writer define a character from positive and negative angle. Therefore, a good character is difficult to judge whether a good person or a villain he/she is.

The four writers also explored the most difficult points in writing and how to overcome such bottlenecks.

Ms. Qiao Ye believes that there are different difficulties and breakthroughs to be made in different works. A work which is too realistic needs some imagination to give it some breakthroughs and space for breathing. But imagination should also abide by rules of reality.

Ms. Dace Vigante believes that there are two methods to solve her own confusion. The first is to make sure what you want to convey to the readers, list them on the paper and then go on developing them. The second is to create a comfortable environment. In her hometown, a dish of pickled cucumber, a glass of wine in winter will bring her inspiration and good mood for creative writing.

José Luís Peixoto insists on writing what deeply buried in his mind. To share what you believes most and the most important points with your readers and to find out something that is related to yourself and things beyond yourself with ease. Don’t lie or close your mind and eyes, you should observe both the wonderful and awful aspects. In his opinion, readers, authors, works, and media are all related to people. Writing is the maintenance of human nature, which should start from people. Time is the best way to solve problems. If you encounter bottlenecks and can’t think clearly, go for a walk or take a nap.

Mr. Ai Wei believes that writing is always not progressing smoothly. Obstacles are good rather than bad for writers. When there occurs difficulty, there comes new possibilities. It may be new worlds that you haven’t discovered yet. This may bring you great novelty and confidence, because a barrier will also open up a completely new situation for you.

Every writer will face the situation of translation of their works. Whether this will change the original intention of the works, they shared the following different views:

Ms. Qiao Ye thinks this will bring some risks to the works. Although the translator will communicate with the author of the works, there exists difficulty to translate culture-loaded terms which may be impossible to understand or to translate with accurate terms. This is where the risks lie.

Ms. Dace Vigante believes that knowing the background knowledge in certain culture helps a lot in translation of works. In José Luís Peixoto’s view, translation itself is a creative process. Translators are all great people as well as heroes and heroines. He compares translation to tramp over hill and dale in many countries with a glass full of water without flowing out. There will be water overflow in the process of translation. And during the journey, they may encounter rain when going through one country to another. Therefore, there will be things added to the original works. He believes that writer is translator, they have their own opinions on what they read, while translation of a book is only one understanding from different perspectives.

Mr. Ai Wei does not worry about the difference in translation, because each translation will be another wonderful interpretation. Modern writing system comes from the West, so Chinese readers are more likely to accept novels under the influence of Western culture, but readers from the West may encounter certain obstacles in understanding Chinese novels. In his opinion, cultural loss in translation is inevitable. Chinese culture has its own unique discourse system, which contains unique culture system and values. It takes time for the West to understand China.