Sept. 30, Chongqing China
It’s been over 20 months since the pandemic started, and there seem to be two worlds: those that don’t want COVID and those that can’t seem to be bothered either way. Or to be fairer, perhaps, those who believe hard work today to attain 0 cases is worth the effort, and those that felt it wasn’t that big a deal.
China and New Zealand use a 0 tolerance model, where we lock down areas in the first case, use track and trace and strong mask and vaccine and quarantine protocols, and are mostly safe COVID-wise. Then there are the other countries, who are still having arguments about whether it’s legal or moral to make people work together to save lives.
In the worst affected area of Canada, Alberta, Premier Kenny declared a state of emergency and said Alberta might run out of intensive care beds within ten days, putting in all previously removed restrictions such as social distancing, banning social gatherings for unvaccinated people, and requiring masks in schools.
He said the government made ‘a mistake’ when treating COVID as endemic and is trying to reverse the course. As Xiaolin likes to say (or sing), ‘it’s too late to apologize’ when the people are already dead. An ICU pediatric doctor tweeted that he can no longer guarantee the affected children in his hospital critical care treatment because some people said it violated their rights to work together to save lives. I feel far away from those debates, and I guess I am grateful for the chance not to be directly concerned. We do the right thing in China, prioritizing the health and wellbeing of all people here and move on, and I’ve been busy writing my book and teaching.
Amos the Amazing has been an inspiring journey and excellent for my mental health. All summer, I wrote the draft, August 30, printed out a copy and stuck it away for a week, and then took the red pen to it and got back to work. My fantastic and encouraging contact at a local Chongqing University has begun a reading series for university students, allowing them the opportunity to read and critique a novel in process, by a Western author, about a Chinese boy protagonist set in Chongqing. For students of cross-cultural and literary translation studies, this is possibly the first pilot project of its kind, and I am honored to take part in it. Although I wish I could do it for every one of my forthcoming novels (the early feedback from the students, by chapter, answering my questions on a guided reading are very helpful), even if this was a one-off, it’s worth putting all my energy into doing it right. The year of the metal ox demands as much.
The process is quite exciting and demanding but creates a machine-like structure out of what would otherwise be a lonely writer in front of their laptop spinning their wheels. Structure and a process are essential to making progress. Monday and Tuesday, I revise a section of about 5000 words, read it repeatedly, tweak it for redundancy, character motivations, story goals, dramatic turns, sensory writing, literary techniques such as metaphor, symbolism, and alliteration. Then, grudgingly, I send it to my beneficial developmental editors on Wednesday. They go over it meticulously, and by the weekend, return it to me with inline comments and a general take on the section, what is working great and what needs a little more finesse. I take it back and tweak it for another day, and then send it off to the university with my video and guided reading questions by Sunday evening, take a rest, and begin the next section on Monday, to do it again. In 16 weeks, the course will pause Spring Festival, and my first draft will be rocketed into the third draft or so, with a metric tone of Chinese university beta reader feedback to help me fine-tune it before translation and publishing. I’ve been getting some bites on that front and really looking forward to seeing this one through to the end.
We have so many holidays in the first part of the school year. It’s really an excellent soft launch. After the National Holiday, we’ll have 3-4 hardcore months of work and then another long break during the winter. I’ve prepped my sweaters and scarves, but it’s still so hot, over 35C many if not most days, that the idea of wearing these warm clothes is laughable, but I know one day the time will come, and I want to be ready.
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