So you can read my books

Sunday, November 27, 2011



Join the club.

During this month of NaNoWriMo, I have been playing usually to an empty house --

my contest with its great prizes largely ignored.

And I've lost another follower.

Then, the ghost of Li Yaotang (pen name : Ba Jin) rapped on top of my head as if it were a door.

"I was born on this day in 1904, Roland. Learn from me. Learn from the Bamboo Tree."

And with that, he was gone.

When he died in 2005, Ba Jin was praised as one of China’s most important novelists, and as the embodiment of a tumultuous century.

He began agitating for change as a teenager, joining the Chinese anarchist group “Company of Equals."

When the Cultural Revolution arrived, Ba Jin became a symbol of anti-social thinking and a primary target,

his public humiliation at the People’s Stadium of Shanghai televised in 1968.

The nation watched the sixty-three-year-old author, kneeling on broken glass, endure the jeers and threats with a bowed head; then they heard him speak:

"You have your thoughts and I have mine. This is the fact and you can't change it even if you kill me."

Years of rehabilitation followed, his new work monitored, his old books and articles revised to suit the authorities.

When once again allowed to speak his mind in a public forum — the following is excerpted from a 1980 speech in Kyoto — Jin had emerged from the crucible true to himself :

"I do not write to earn a living or to build a reputation.

I write to battle enemies. Who are they?

Every outdated traditional notion, every irrational system that stands in the way of social progress and human development,

and every instance of cruelty in the face of love.

My pen is alight and my body aflame. Until both burn down to ash, my love and my hate will remain here in the world."

Feel unappreciated now? Live your own light. Fight the darkness as long as breath and light remain to you.


  1. What an awesome life this man led. And such suffering too. I always wonder if I had lived during such troubled times such as when our own Mandela lived, would i have had the fortitude. People of the 60's and 70's seem to have had incredible resilience or do we all discover it when place inn the midst of such adversity.

  2. Wonderfully inspiring post! I love the quote and I completely agree that one shouldn't write to build a reputation or earn a living. If those things follow, it's fine and a blessed occurrence but it shouldn't be what's in the writer's heart when the words are put on the page. Thank you for the reminder, Roland.

  3. I did not know much about him. Thank you for highlighting this man, Roland.

  4. Hi,

    Confucious said: When I am gone I will be remembered!

    Ironic how many authors, artists and deep thinkers are only applauded when dead!

    <<>> Hope for us yet, then, R.

  5. Wendy :
    Like you, I believe that we only find the courage and love we need when they are called for. Wish you luck on your online book store, Roland

    KarenG :
    Thank you. We write because we must. Should our dreams come true that will be fine. But if we can find one or two souls who love our work, then we are blessed, right?

    Lydia :
    So many heroes go unsung and unnoticed. I wanted to point to Ba Jin, and say, "Here was a man!" Thanks for appreciating finding out more about him.

    Francine :
    Mother used to say, "Give me roses while I'm alive. I will not be able to smell them when I am dead." Same goes for appreciating those around us.

    Thanks for being my friend, Francine. You are deeply appreciated, Roland

  6. Time and time again revolutionaries have been turned upon by the very governments they helped install.

  7. Hi, Roland,

    What an inspiring post. We ALL have our ups and downs in our lives and no truer words were said.

    What an amazing man/author.

    We all have our journeys. Some more difficult than others. BUT the wisdom and knowledge we learn from them is priceless to our craft and soul.

  8. One of your finest posts that I've had the pleasure of reading.

  9. Walter :
    Yes, the French Revolution was infamous for that. Sad aspect of human nature, isn't it?

    Michael :
    The ghost of Ba Jin encouraged me when I was down, and I thought others might need a bit of inspiration from an author who had been through the fire and emerged victorious in spirit. Have a great day today! Roland

    Richard :
    Your words leave me without any of my own. Thanks, Roland