---"The Ring of a Decade", Shanghai, 2019.12 | 《圈里圈外》摄于上海

Only a Decade

---"The Ring of a Decade", Shanghai, 2019.12 | 《圈里圈外》摄于上海

—“The Ring of a Decade”, Shanghai, 2019.12 | 《圈里圈外》摄于上海

 

“You are too short to teach.”

 

---"The View in a Classroom", Shanghai, 2019.10 | 《教室一隅》摄于上海

—“The View in a Classroom”, Shanghai, 2019.10 | 《教室一隅》摄于上海

 

A tall interviewer called me off the stage when I had just given my name. He gestured at me as if he was giving the death penalty. Teaching was the only iron rice bowl that would fit my circumstances. Now what was I supposed to do?

 

---"Teaching Kids Chess", Shanghai, 2019.11 | 《教小朋友国际象棋》樊老师摄于上海

—“Teaching Kids Chess”, Shanghai, 2019.11 | 《教小朋友国际象棋》樊老师摄于上海

 

Days before the 2009 Spring Festival, I desperately paid an agent who guaranteed me a teaching job. On Chinese New Year’s Eve, I took a smelly night train from Hainan to Guangzhou. It was a nightmare. I slept standing against a strange shoulder in the crowd without any awareness. Everyone was leaning against each other, except those who could afford a seat.

 

---"Teaching Kids Chess", Shanghai, 2019.11 | 《教小朋友国际象棋》樊老师摄于上海

—“Teaching Kids Chess”, Shanghai, 2019.11 | 《教小朋友国际象棋》樊老师摄于上海

 

The nightmare worsened when I arrived at a suburban dormitory provided by the agency. There were twelve bunk beds in a room and twelve people shared the same shower with a single toilet. Two days later, the toilet blocked. The shitty water ran all over the place. It smelled really good. No plumber would come till after the Spring Festival. Thus the daily instant noodles had no smell.

 

---"Teaching Kids Chess", Shanghai, 2019.11 | 《教小朋友国际象棋》朱老师摄于上海

—“Teaching Kids Chess”, Shanghai, 2019.11 | 《教小朋友国际象棋》朱老师摄于上海

 

This pushed me to get a job sooner. But they all rejected me for the same reason – my small size and my weak appearance. Not until one month later did I find a school that was calling for half-pay volunteers. I took it immediately.

 

---"Watching Sunset", Shantou, 2009.12 | 《看日落》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

—“Watching Sunset”, Shantou, 2009.12 | 《看日落》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

 

The school was the Migrant Workers’ Children School in Shantou City. It looked like a small factory, but it had a nice cozy feel. There were seven classrooms for seven grades of students. All desks and chairs were blue plastic. All teachers were either retired or fresh graduates. At 5pm every day, we would each carry a bucket of hot water to the toilet and together stand on the squat for a quick shower. Of course, the sexes were separate.

 

---"Observing Series I", Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列一》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

—“Observing Series I”, Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列一》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

 

During the first week, two school buses took us to the three main areas where most of the workers lived. We gave them handouts like a communist would hold a farmer’s hands in the Mao era. There was a fascination in that, on the bus, I was reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and, off the bus, I was experiencing a meditative moment of walking into the irregularly shabby tents that were home to them. Especially the moment when a woman bent over the waste digging gold with her face covered by flies.

 

---"Observing Series II", Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列二》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

—“Observing Series II”, Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列二》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

 

This sight motivated me to teach more responsibly and to seek more diversities in life. I noticed that the parents smiled often and the children were happy. I found my students’ neat resonant reading voices tranquilly peaceful. I was totally drawn by these books in Chinese: The Interpretation of Dreams and The Second Sex. Meantime I focused my weekends on writing my Chinese novel – An Oasis in Wasteland.

 

---"Observing Series III", Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列三》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

—“Observing Series III”, Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列三》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

 

Life then was fulfilled with originality and simplicity. I had such complete satisfaction that I felt no ending was needed by my Chinese novel. It was a perfect year of teaching. The perfection nurtured me as an oasis of spirituality. I was inspired to experience more.

 

---"Observing Series IV", Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列四》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

—“Observing Series IV”, Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列四》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

 

Therefore I moved to Shenzhen, working in sales till I quit to write two English novels within four years. I then came to Shanghai out of curiosity and tried to sell insurance. I stumbled into the art world.

 

---"To Be Remembered", Shantou, 2009.12 | 《学生留念》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

—“To Be Remembered”, Shantou, 2009.12 | 《学生留念》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

 

However, my family claimed that I was absolutely wrong. They repeated it during my August family trip morning, noon and night. Their biting criticisms almost crushed me. I had to compromise with the idea of returning to education. Actually it felt more like the sand in my hourglass was running out and it was time to start over.

 

---"To Be Remembered", Shantou, 2009.12 | 《学生留念》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

—“To Be Remembered”, Shantou, 2009.12 | 《学生留念》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

 

Now I’m officially working for New Stage English and teaching international chess at different international schools. Because of this job, I have seen remote parts of Shanghai that I would never have visited.

 

---"I Love China", Shanghai, 2019.12.25 | 《我爱中国》摄于上海青浦世外国际幼儿园

—“I Love China”, Shanghai, 2019.12.25 | 《我爱中国》摄于上海青浦世外国际幼儿园

 

All this happened from 2009 to 2019. It is only a decade. Only a circle. How would you like to begin a new life, if you happen to be at the starting line?

 

WeChat Image_20191229104559

 

Last article 上一篇: Our Pressures | 我们的压力

About Heather Cai:

Heather Cover

Heather is the daughter of a subsistence rice farmer from Fujian Province, China. She tells stories from her experience as one of the poorest. She writes her dream to share with the world, a very personal place. She has now written two English literary novels and is looking to being published in the UK. Her passion is a splendid cocktail or milkshake of word, image, music and art. She likes collecting books, DVDs, papers, stones, shells and leaves. She desires for all forms of natural beauty. She is currently teaching kids chess in Shanghai.

Copyright © 2018-2019 Heather Cai. All Rights Reserved. 所有版权归作者蔡太莲所有!


Follow HeathersChamber for more original poems, essays, prose, drawings and pictures

关注阿太的密室,订阅更多原创诗歌、散文、随笔、画画和图片

qrcode_for_gh_1231092a6fe5_430 (1)wps图片

My Very First Publication | 平生第一次出版

---"The Undiscovered Self", Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 《未被发现的自我》摄于斯里兰卡

—“The Undiscovered Self”, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 《未被发现的自我》摄于斯里兰卡

 

“Three year olds can play piano, can paint, can sing, but can three year olds write a novel?”
Thus, the B人BEL editor Luis questioned when he lay out his work on editing my short story – Traditions or Choices – my very first publication.
“三岁的孩子可以弹钢琴,可以画画,可以唱歌,但是三岁的孩子能写小说吗?”
B人BEL杂志编辑Luis在摊开讨论编辑我平生第一次出版的短片小说《传统还是选择》时这样质疑。
---"The Unrecognized You", Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 《未被认可的你》摄于斯里兰卡

—“The Unrecognized You”, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 《未被认可的你》摄于斯里兰卡

 

Certainly writing a novel is impossible for three year olds, and even for most thirty year olds. I had no idea how to write one in 2014 when I started drafting my first English novel. It was a call like no other –
“Writing is not a ‘career’. There is no salary, no job security, no promotion, no pension, no guarantee of work, no guarantee that anyone will ever notice what you do. Writing is a calling. If you are called, answer. Prepare for a life of intense work at curious hours, likely obscurity and regular self-doubt, punctuated by periods of wonder that somehow make it all worthwhile.”
三岁的孩子当然不可能写小说,甚至绝大部分三十岁的人也不行。2014年在起草我的第一部英语小说时,我还不知道该怎么写。只是很多久远深沉的故事从四面八方推压着我不得不去释放,可以说是绝无仅有的一次内心的呼唤。(如今庆幸自己这么做了,读个段子再激励一下)
有一天,在公园里·····
女:”有三室两厅吗?”
男:”没有!”
女:”有路虎,奥迪吗?”
男:”没有!”
女:”有7位数存款吗?”
男:”没有!”
女:”那你有啥?”
男:”我………”
女转身就要走···
突然男的说:”我是作家”!
女立刻回头抱住男的腰,满脸崇拜的说道:
“你不早说,写作压力这么大,如此辛若,你还没被累死,一定是个潜力股,这就够了!够了!”
——这是2019年度最励志的段子
 

---"The Unheard Story", Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 《不为人知的故事》摄于斯里兰卡

—“The Unheard Story”, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 《不为人知的故事》摄于斯里兰卡

 

WeChat Image_20191123071231

WeChat Image_20191123071201

WeChat Image_20191123071243WeChat Image_20191123071247

 

For B人BEL Magazine #2 launch information, please click here.
有关B人BEL杂志第二期发行活动信息,请点击这里

Note: To build a mutual Literature & Art community, Heather has now opened her personal channel (WeChat ID: Heather69) to her fans, who are following HeathersChamber. No cheaters!

备注由于时间和精力有限,为了建立一个互敬互惠的文学艺术圈子,阿太特向已关注此公众号的粉丝们分享她的个人微信号:Heather69 。骗子勿扰!

 

Last article 上一篇:  My Very First Exhibition in Life | 平生第一个画展

 

About Heather Cai:

Heather Cover

Heather is the daughter of a subsistence rice farmer from Fujian Province, China. She tells stories from her experience as one of the poorest. She writes her dream to share with the world, a very personal place. She has now written two English literary novels and is looking to being published in the UK. Her passion is a splendid cocktail or milkshake of word, image, music and art. She likes collecting books, DVDs, papers, stones, shells and leaves. She desires for all forms of natural beauty. She is currently teaching kids chess in Shanghai and serving as Sergeant-at-arms (SAA) for Shanghai Leadership Toastmasters Club.

Copyright © 2018-2019 Heather Cai. All Rights Reserved. 所有版权归作者所有!

 


 

Follow HeathersChamber for more original poems, essays, prose, drawings and pictures

关注阿太的密室,订阅更多原创诗歌、散文、随笔、画画和图片

qrcode_for_gh_1231092a6fe5_430 (1)wps图片

 

Ashamed or Proud? | 羞耻还是自豪?

---"Ashamed or Proud?", Malaysia, 2015.2 | 《羞耻还是自豪》摄于马来西亚

—“Ashamed or Proud?”, Malaysia, 2015.2 | 《羞耻还是自豪》摄于马来西亚

 

Why would we feel ashamed when we haven’t done anything wrong? For being poor? For being born in a poor family? For being born a tiny creature in a poor family? 
我们没有做错事,为什么会感到羞耻呢?因为贫穷?因为出生在一个贫穷的家庭?因为与生俱来我们就是个不起眼的弱小生物?
"Weirdos". Malaysia, 2015.2 | 《怪人》摄于马来西亚

“Weirdos”. Malaysia, 2015.2 | 《怪人》摄于马来西亚

These are half of the pieces of feedback I received on my last article Bumps. They are categorized into two groups: Westerners & Easterners.
 

以下是来自读者对上篇文章《颠簸》所作反馈的一半内容,分为两部分:西方人和东方人。

 

0

 

-Westerners 西方人-

 

1.png

23

456-1.png

101197

.JPG58

121415171927242120191107_21223020191107_21251420191107_21273120191107_21304420191107_21312120191107_213147WeChat Image_2019110921375020191107_212843203120191107_21242920191107_212704WeChat Image_20191107220521

 

1

 

Interestingly, more women feel vulnerable in silence than men. More interestingly, we don’t even hear these stories from men. Believable or unbelievable? There are far more true stories to write than fantasies to create.

有趣的是,与男性相比,更多女性在沉默中感到脆弱。更有趣的是,我们甚至很少从男人那听到类似《颠簸》的故事。可信还是难以置信?我们的身边有那么多真实的故事可以写,却有那么多人绞尽脑汁去创造一些遥远的幻想。为什么?

 

2

 

-Easterners 东方人-

 

16182223252630323320191107_21133020191107_21170720191107_21203020191107_21213020191107_21220520191107_21253920191107_21280020191107_21291920191107_21301820191107_213338wechat-image_20191107220425.jpg

捕获

4

 

From being ashamed to being proud, is like a revolutionary moment of fearlessness.

从羞耻到自豪,像是一个无畏的革命性的冲锋时刻。

 

Note: To build a mutual Literature & Art community, Heather has now opened her personal channel (WeChat ID: Heather69) to her fans, who are following HeathersChamber. No cheaters!

备注由于时间和精力有限,为了建立一个互敬互惠的文学艺术圈子,阿太特向已关注此公众号的粉丝们分享她的个人微信号:Heather69 。骗子勿扰!

 

Last article 上一篇:  Bumps | 颠簸

 

About Heather Cai:

Heather Cover

Heather is the daughter of a subsistence rice farmer from Fujian Province, China. She tells stories from her experience as one of the poorest. She writes her dream to share with the world, a very personal place. She has now written two English literary novels and is looking to being published in the UK. Her passion is a splendid cocktail or milkshake of word, image, music and art. She likes collecting books, DVDs, papers, stones, shells and leaves. She desires for all forms of natural beauty. She is currently teaching kids chess in Shanghai and serving as Sergeant-at-arms (SAA) for Shanghai Leadership Toastmasters Club.

Copyright © 2018-2019 Heather Cai. All Rights Reserved. 所有版权归作者所有!

 


 

Follow HeathersChamber for more original poems, essays, prose, drawings and pictures

关注阿太的密室,订阅更多原创诗歌、散文、随笔、画画和图片

qrcode_for_gh_1231092a6fe5_430 (1)wps图片

Bumps | 颠簸

---Frightened, 2015.5.12 | 《害怕》

—Frightened, 2015.5.12 | 《害怕》

 

“Little shit, useless! Little shit, useless!”

My father would shout this when he beat me with a dustpan – my earliest memory. He hated me being born as a dwarf, particularly a female one. He didn’t stop beating me until one day he almost beat my mother to death.

 

---Patriarchy, 2015.5.20 | 《父权社会》

—Patriarchy, 2015.5.20 | 《父权社会》

 

Influenced by such violence in a patriarchal family, where all parents favored a boy over a girl, my brother also liked bullying me. He learned to beat me till one day he was scared when he cut my forearm deep with a scar.

 

---Scar, 2015.7.9 | 《伤痕》

—Scar, 2015.7.9 | 《伤痕》

---The Scar, 2019.10.19 | 《那道疤痕》

—The Scar, 2019.10.19 | 《那道疤痕》

 

Years of my mother staying unwell in bed gave me more chance to do farm work, housework and take care of two young sisters. And that somehow made me useful in my father’s eye.

 

---Family, 2015.5.13 | 《家庭》

—Family, 2015.5.13 | 《家庭》

 

When mother got better, I started school at ten. Things were fine till Grade Five when my Chinese teacher doubted my writing, “Have you copied this from an Essay Book?” I said no. He then left a striking red mark: Whether or not you have cribbed your article off a book, you know the best! 

 

---Vulnerability, 2015.5.12 | 《脆弱》

—Vulnerability, 2015.5.12 | 《脆弱》

---My private Shenzhen library built from a dormitory window that liked receiving wind and rain uninvited, 2013.9 | 《我的深圳私人藏书屋》

—My private Shenzhen library built from a dormitory window that liked receiving wind and rain uninvited, 2013.9 | 《我的深圳私人藏书屋》

 

The irony was that I didn’t even have a book. To prove myself, I insisted on joining a writing competition, which no one believed I should. In the end I won First Prize in the whole district. I thought that would make people look at me differently, but it didn’t. Their silence was confusing.

 

---Confusion, 2015.4.17 | 《困惑》

—Confusion, 2015.4.17 | 《困惑》

 

Nonetheless, I kept studying hard and being a good student. This didn’t change until a kidney stone that almost needed surgery in high school made me start wondering: What was the point of being good? What had good writing done for me? Why should I meet an expectation that was not mine? Why not just listen to myself?

 

---Be Wild, 2015.3.18 | 《自然野》

—Be Wild, 2015.3.18 | 《自然野》

 

Therefore I half listened to my father about becoming a teacher. But behind his back I chose Hainan Island for my college life. This was strongly against his wishes because it was too far away. For days, he didn’t sleep or eat much. At last, he gave me a thick roll of thirty-eight hundred cash and told me with red wet eyes, “This is all I have. Don’t come home until you can afford it.” 

 

---Father, 2015.4.25 | 《父亲》

—Father, 2015.4.25 | 《父亲》

 

I assured him, “Don’t worry. The school offers a five-thousand loan every year.” 

But I could never tell him that the loan was a lie. How could I?

 

---My grandfather's Medal Awarded From the Korea War, 1954 | 《爷爷的抗美援朝纪念章》

—My grandfather’s Medal Awarded From the Korea War, 1954 | 《爷爷的抗美援朝纪念章》

 

Owing half my tuition fees, I had to constantly take different part-time jobs. Yet my salary was never enough to pay off my debt. When the time came to register for the second year, the administrator refused me unless I paid off everything. Accordingly I showed him these two things: “Look, this is my grandfather’s medal awarded from the Korea War and his Military Certificate authorized by the renowned General Chen Yi. It clearly says, ‘His family get preferential treatment.’”

 

---My grandfather's Military Certificate, 1951 | 《爷爷的革命军人证明书:司令员 陈毅》

—My grandfather’s Military Certificate, 1951 | 《爷爷的革命军人证明书:司令员 陈毅》

 

“Is he still alive?” He sneered.

“No… please!” I suddenly knelt down. “My grandfather had fought many wars and sacrificed a lot. He had become crippled and deaf, and almost been killed on the battlefield. His greatest wish was to see me graduate from college.”

“Your grandpa is dead. What’s the use of all this?”

 

---Sob, 2015.7.7 | 《哭诉》

—Sob, 2015.7.7 | 《哭诉》

 

I got up slowly, pulling myself together. I began to make phone calls and borrow money. This made me sick. When I asked for a raise after three years of working for my first company, the boss killed me as a chicken to scare the monkey. And later in the second company, I found my basic salary had been underpaid for six months. What the hell made people do that to me?

 

---Mankind, 2015.5.6 | 《人》

—Mankind, 2015.5.6 | 《人》

 

Unhesitatingly I quit my full-time job to chase my writing dream. Had I not been framed by a world where the colors are drawn by child abuse, sexist bullies, social suspicions and human unkindness, would I struggle even now to tell the bumps of my life stories?

 

---A Framed Life, 2015.7.11 | 《一个被设限的生命》

—A Framed Life, 2015.7.11 | 《一个被设限的生命》

 

I’m not going to ask ‘Why me?’. Because it is not just me. It is a bunch of mes. But what bumps do you have and what impacts do they have on you?

 

---Hope, 2015.7.5 | 《希望》

—Hope, 2015.7.5 | 《希望》

 

Note: This is something that I can never feel comfortable to talk to anyone, but Toastmasters gave me courage and strength to make it a speech. You can read the original post here.

 

WeChat Image_20191018204514

WeChat Image_20191018204347WeChat Image_20191018204448WeChat Image_20191019091803

---Shanghai Leadership TMC Still Drives Me Crazy, 2019.10.19 | 《上海头马依旧让我痴狂》

—Shanghai Leadership TMC Still Drives Me Crazy, 2019.10.19 | 《上海头马依旧让我痴狂》

 

Related article:Transformations

Last article 上一篇: LEADERSHIP’S GOT TALENT | LGT

 

About Heather Cai:

Heather Cover

Heather is the daughter of a subsistence rice farmer from Fujian Province, China. She tells stories from her experience as one of the poorest. She writes her dream to share with the world, a very personal place. She has now written two English literary novels and is looking to being published in the UK. Her passion is a splendid cocktail or milkshake of word, image, music and art. She likes collecting books, DVDs, papers, stones, shells and leaves. She desires for all forms of natural beauty. She is currently living in Shanghai and serving as Sergeant-at-arms (SAA) for Shanghai Leadership Toastmasters Club.

Copyright © 2018-2019 Heather Cai. All Rights Reserved. 所有版权归作者所有!


 

Follow HeathersChamber for more original poems, essays, prose, drawings and pictures

关注阿太的密室,订阅更多原创诗歌、散文、随笔、画画和图片

qrcode_for_gh_1231092a6fe5_430 (1)wps图片

Technical Writing VS Creative Writing

Copyright@Heather Cai 2017

Seaweed Farm. Photo taken in Xiapu, Fujian (2016.12)

 

 

Finishing editing my second English novel In Between felt like a deep breath, and getting the submission package ready is a deeper breath.

Personally and frankly, initiating the synopsis was a hard birth. After doing some research and reading some examples with different genres, the thoughts kept fermenting for days and sometimes fighting annoyingly. There were times it felt like your period is wrong. I had to walk and walk, meditating and cleansing, then abandoning my usual way of thinking, like practicing the sense of direction. I forced myself to be practical for this once. As a result, I became practical and “cold” in doing other things too. Thus time and space, light or night, didn’t matter that much to me. My brain can think like a spider web, but only can move one spider across the star at a time.

Here, after the synopsis is finally done, I proudly represent this comparative table, to purely indulge myself. Wahoo, autumn is embracing. I’m relieved. It is always rewarding when you have seriously learned something new and valuable. 🙂

From Experience

Technical Writing

Creative Writing

Synopsis

In Between

neutral

natural 

 factual

 imaginative

 cold-blooded

 passionate

 heartless

 heartfelt

 colorless

 in colors

tight

 flexible

 skeleton

 plentiful

framed

free

inexpressive

expressive

 formal

 informal

challenging   enjoyable

 

Count On Writing#3

IMG_20151128_212351

 

There is such a thing as good writing, and there is such a thing as bad writing. Learn

the difference. Strain to produce the former whilst accepting that you will, much of the time, 

produce the latter. As you grow in confidence, you’ll know which bits to throw away and which 

to keep and work on. Be shamelessly elitist in your pursuit of excellence. Writing is not a 

democratic activity; only you can know whether you’re doing what you are here to do. Read a 

lot, write a lot and don’t listen to any post-modern oaf who tells you that, after all, 

no-one can say whether Stieg Larsson is ‘better’ than Shakespeare.

                                                                   — Paul Kingsnorth

 

Count On Writing#2

A green bottle recycled, a new creative way to make  something mysterious and incredible.

A green bottle recycled, a new creative way to make something mysterious and incredible.


Here is Booker – long listed novelist, award-winning poet and widely published journalist Paul Kingsnorth on writing.

Writing is not a ‘career’. There is no salary, no job security, no promotion, no pension, no guarantee of work, no guarantee that anyone will ever notice what you do. Writing is a calling. If you are called, answer. Prepare for a life of intense work at curious hours, likely obscurity and regular self-doubt, punctuated by periods of wonder that somehow make it all worthwhile. If this doesn’t appeal, try local government.

 

Count On Writing#1

The fog makes the tree a dreaming dancer and the thread of red a poet. Why? Because the fog says so.

The fog makes the tree a dreaming dancer and the thread of red a poet. Why? Because the fog says so.

A while ago, a good friend passed me something good from another good friend who likes to share some of his writing ideas and who is writing a fiction himself. As always I like to share whatever good with the rest of the world. Carrying a dream to be a good writer then a real artist, I feel it important to share what I think is good, especially with those who have similar interests or dreams.

Here is Booker – long listed novelist, award-winning poet and widely published journalist Paul Kingsnorth on writing.

If you want to be a writer, you will be a writer. In fact, if you want to be a writer, you already are. Congratulations.

P.S.: There are more, of course. But hey, the very first step is the voice, the belief within inside. We not only have to believe we will be a writer but act as we already are. This is essential.