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Identity: a Discovery

I asked myself if working like this was something I saw myself doing in 10 or 15 years, she said. I asked if there was meaning in what I was doing. I had money and a notion of success, but I wasn't doing anything for myself.

Tan started taking lessons in improvisational jazz piano and working on fiction. It was the writing which she said unleashed something inside her.

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It felt like the meaning of my life it was simply working it out, creating a story in my mind and finding something that had always been there. That felt like a discovery, but was also strangely familiar, she said. I knew that would be the reason for writing.

But she wasn't prepared to jump fully into fiction.

Pursuing fiction as a craft of personal discovery, she hoped to maybe publish in a good, little magazine like Grand Street , she said, augmenting her successful vocation with an avocation of passion. She had no way of knowing just how popular her personal stories would become.

I didn't even know if it would be published, she said of her first novel, The Joy Luck Club. There was a contract, but my very business writer self said well be lucky if it sells 5,000 copies and is on the shelf for six weeks before it disappears. I didn't have a great deal of self-consciousness that these personal things I was writing would ever be studied by students in Arkansas.

But they have.

The University of Arkansas Fort Smith will welcome Tan to the River Valley next week for the seminal event of the Read This! program. She will present workshops with students before the opening the floor to an authors talk and question-and-answer session Wednesday evening.

Its always good for me to talk to students, she said. I have been working on a nonfiction book that has a lot to do with the reasons that I write, but I never set out to write something that would be instructional to people.

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Posted in Community Post Date 09/16/2017


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