So you can read my books

Tuesday, August 21, 2012



Join the club.

During this month of August NaNo and the WRITE CLUB, I have been playing usually to an empty house --

my contest with its great prizes largely ignored.

And except for Siv Maria, my latest book is going unnoticed.

As I finished typing the above, 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."

His eyes were deep with wisdom hard bought by pain. "Only by not forgetting the past can we be the master of the future. Now my education, life and consciousness are talked about by those who cannot understand what I wrote, what I thought, what was my life."

He sighed, "They make me up from their subjective imagination. Do not be like them. Learn from the me that I was. 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Every outdated traditional notion, every irrational system that stands in the way of social progress and human development,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 a light and my body a flame. 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.

* Uploaded 17 October 2005 by Jiang Photo of Ba Jin taken in 1938.

This image is now in the public domain because its term of copyright has expired in China.

According to copyright laws of the People's Republic of China (currently with jurisdiction in Taiwan, the Pescadores, Quemoy, Matsu, etc.),

all photographs and cinematographic works, and all works whose copyright holder is a juristic person, enter the public domain 50 years after they were first published,

or if unpublished 50 years from creation, and all other applicable works enter the public domain 50 years after the death of the creator.

{Want to know what Ba Jin meant by "Learn from the Bamboo Tree?" Watch this video}



  1. I never knew this was how the bamboo grew. A tale that could be applied to many aspects of our lives but certainly to the process of writing. I hope your period of amazing growth is due very soon. Sorry if I missed your giveaway promotion I simply haven't had time to visit every blog as often as I would have liked over the last few weeks. Good luck with the book, don't give up.

  2. Great life lessons Roland. Sometimes I wonder why it is that so many creative people are not really appreciated until they are gone. I guess though that is the way it is with most things in life. You truely don't appreciate what is in front of you until it is gone. Human nature I guess. Anyways, things take time. I am sure your book will take off, you just published it. Are you in a hurry? :)

  3. Things are busy at the moment. The bamboo tree seems like a great analogy to use, though. You have to let your work make its own way in the world. I'm reading Burnt Offerings, and I can say there's no issue with the quality!

  4. Suzanne:
    Life is a harsh mistress. It takes us all on wild rides sometimes, snatching our free time away when it would. I'm just happy that you visited today. :-)

    I live in a hurry. :-) Too many miles, too few hours! When patients are bleeding to death, time is of the essence in getting rare blood to them. I guess it seeps into the rest of my life, too! Oops.

    You're right. Too often we let true wealth go unappreciated in front of us. The wealth of your friendship is something I am appreciative of every day. Thanks!

    Yes, the ghost of Ba Jin was trying to impart impatience to me with his lesson of the Bamboo Tree.

    I hope the busy times smooth out for all of us soon! Thanks for the nice words about BURNT OFFERINGS. They were truly appreciated! :-)

  5. Don't forget to have patience, Roland. I'm reading Burnt Offerings too, and have Rival started, but I have to fit that into daily life.

    The review of two of your books on my site has garnered more pageviews than many other posts. (people are looking and learning about your books).

    I'm even thinking of joining Amazon Reviews just to review fellow blogger books and because you asked, (and I don't like public review sites).

    You have many friends, Roland, even if we seem invisible.

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  7. Thanks for this amazing story. Excellent lessons for life.

  8. D.G.:
    Thanks for having my back and reading my novels. I am heartened that your reviews of my books got as many comments as they did.

    I have just dragged in after a 12 hour day as a blood courier. Whew! My head is soinning, and I am on call all night again, too! I need to sell the movie rights to Victor!

    You made this weary blood courier feel much better with your words!

  9. Hi Roland .. I need to be around more and will be in the coming weeks .. and I must get myself organised for your books - that too will happen .. all things take their time as I adjust and sort ..

    Often think of you as I scamper past your posts - I can understand the urgency attached to your job to seep and be a permanence in your daily life ... look after yourself - cheers Hilary

  10. What a powerful story. The part about him being tortured and what he said--you can't change even if you kill me--is so true.

    As for the silencio, I think it's just a combination of back to school, back to work, overwhelmitude. At least that's what's happening on my end!

    Best, <3

  11. Hilary:
    It's always good to see you in my cyber home. I sometimes feel as if I am playing to an empty house, but that is my fault not anyone else's! Thanks for caring.

    Isn't the story of Ba-Jin powerful? He is a true role model. I believe you are right. It's all good. I will sing and dance though it is on a stage to an empty house. Don Quixote Roland :-)