God, life changes faster than you think.
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 did not lose myself all at once. I rubbed out my face over the years washing away my pain, the same way carvings on stone are worn down by water.
I didn't fear failure. I expected failure.
I have a writer's memory which makes everything worse than maybe it actually was.
I learned to forgive myself, and that enabled me to forgive my mother as a person.
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 read a book a day when I was a kid. My family was not literary; we did not have any books in the house.
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.
I started a second novel seven times and I had to throw them away.
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 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.
I used to think that my mother got into arguments with people because they didn't understand her English, because she was Chinese.
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.
I was intelligent enough to make up my own mind. I not only had freedom of choice, I had freedom of expression.
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 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.
In America nobody says you have to keep the circumstances somebody else gives you.
It's a luxury being a writer, because all you ever think about is life.
It's both rebellion and conformity that attack you with success.
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.
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.
My parents had very high expectations. They expected me to get straight A's from the time I was in kindergarten.
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.
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.