With each passing day, I didn't lose hope. I fought to have more.
If you can't change your fate, change your attitude.
I am like a falling star who has finally found her place next to another in a lovely constellation, where we will sparkle in the heavens forever.
Who knows where inspiration comes from.
Perhaps it arises from desperation. Perhaps it comes from the flukes of the universe, the kindness of the muses.
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.
I read a book a day when I was a kid.
My family was not literary; we did not have any books in the house.
Chance is the first step you take, luck is what comes afterward.
How do I create something out of nothing? And how do I create my own life? I think it is by questioning, and saying to myself that there are no absolute truths.
In America nobody says you have to keep the circumstances somebody else gives you.
My mother had a very difficult childhood, having seen her own mother kill herself. So she didn't always know how to be the nurturing mother that we all expect we should have.
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.
It's both rebellion and conformity that attack you with success.
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.
I have a writer's memory which makes everything worse than maybe it actually was.
There are a lot of people who think that's what's needed to be successful is always being right, always being careful, always picking the right path.
I learned to forgive myself, and that enabled me to forgive my mother as a person.
We are the kind of people who obsess over one word.
.. but we have only one shot to get it right in concert. It was hard the first time I practiced with them. I was so nervous that my vocal chords were paralyzed for about a half-hour.
The forbidden things were a great influence on my life.
I was forbidden from reading A Catcher in the Rye.
She said 'I'm by commission. You don't have to pay anything until you sell anything.' I said, 'Well fine. You want to be my agent and not make anything.' I thought, 'Boy, is she dumb.'
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.
I didn't fear failure. I expected failure.
It's a luxury being a writer, because all you ever think about is life.
My sister Kwan believes she has yin eyes.
I started a second novel seven times and I had to throw them away.
You write a book and you hope somebody will go out and pay $24.
95 for what you've just said. I think books were my salvation. Books saved me from being miserable.
My parents had very high expectations.
They expected me to get straight A's from the time I was in kindergarten.
Words to me were magic. You could say a word and it could conjure up all kinds of images or feelings or a chilly sensation or whatever. It was amazing to me that words had this power.
Writing is an extreme privilege but it's also a gift.
It's a gift to yourself and it's a gift of giving a story to someone.
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.
Placing on writers the responsibility to represent a culture is an onerous burden.
God, life changes faster than you think.
My parents told me I would become a doctor and then in my spare time I would become a concert pianist. So, both my day job and my spare time were sort of taken care of.
That was a wonderful period in my life.
I mean, I didn't become an artist, but somebody let me do something I loved. What a luxury, to do something you love to do.
People think it's a terrible tragedy when somebody has Alzheimer's.
But in my mother's case, it's different. My mother has been unhappy all her life. For the first time in her life, she's happy.
My mother said I was a clingy kid until I was about four.
I also remember that from the age of eight she and I fought almost every day.
We all hate moral ambiguity in some sense, and yet it is also absolutely necessary. In writing a story, it is the place where I begin.
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.
I used to think that my mother got into arguments with people because they didn't understand her English, because she was Chinese.
No one in my family was a reader of literary fiction.
So, I didn't have encouragement, but I didn't have discouragement, because I don't think anybody knew what that meant.
You can get sucked into the idea that, 'Gosh, this is impressive.
Maybe I should do this. It will look good.' Or 'I'll write like this because it will impress that critic.'
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.
I was intelligent enough to make up my own mind.
I not only had freedom of choice, I had freedom of expression.
There are never complete answers. Or rather, if there is an answer, it is to remind myself that there is uncertainty in everything.
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.