Why did I hate writing earlier?
I hated writing in the primary school. The negative feeling lasted through my years of middle and high schools, college, and beyond. Writing was such a struggle.
Luckily my engineering career didn’t require much serious writing. Just some Powerpoint slides with bullet points would do the trick. The truth is that, most of my colleagues had similar attitudes toward writing. We were good at numbers, and horrible at words.
But, right after my early retirement, suddenly my hatred toward writing was gone. Thank you, retirement, you changed who I am. As a surprise, I do have a lot of my own thoughts, would love to write it down and share it with you.
As a result, I finished my first book in 2016. It is a small memoir, ebook, called “Dad’s Bicycle – Journey of a Chinese Family”. Late last year, this blog was launched.
Today, I like to share my experience why I hated writing earlier. That’s mainly because of the political environment I grew up with. Let me explain it.
Writing was not my trait from the beginning:
When started learning writing in Chinese, I was probably in the 3rd grade. That was mid 1970s, when the Cultural Revolution was still going on in China. What did I learn? Most were Mao’s quotations, and the revolutionary stories. Those really were not good materials for a 3rd grader to learn about writing.
So I had a bad start. As the time went on, I didn’t have a chance to develop my own thoughts. In that stifling political environment, everyone had to think the same way. It’s so called “Unifying the thoughts or views”. Nobody dared to think differently.
As a result, kids’ writings were all from cookie cutters. The tones were just like the editorials of the government newspapers. Those red slogans were copied over to our writing notebooks. Blatant plagiarism.
When a new semester started, our first writing assignment was always: “My plans for the new semester”. Well, for an elementary school kid like me, my real plan or hope was to have more candy, fruits, flour, sugar, eggs, and meat, and less corn bread and hunger. Food was scarce then. And probably more play time with my friends, and less time in the classroom.
But, obviously I couldn’t write down the true thought. Otherwise, my family and I would be in big trouble. As a result, I had to fake out: okay, my plan was to study hard, follow Mao’s instructions, and help other people selflessly. It sounded so bizarre and ridiculous. Come on, that’s not what an 8-9 year-old was thinking. From that early age, I learnt how to wear the political face mask. Sad.
Every time when my class went out to the corn field helping the farmers, the teacher asked us to write down our experience. Some kids made up the story like this: “The red flags were waving high, and the songs were sung loudly and proudly.” That was a lie. There were neither flags, nor songs or pride. Only brutal sun, sweat, mud, and complains.
At the end of each semester, the wrap up writing assignment was: “Summary of the current semester.” Well, every semester was the same in my eyes. Why bother to summarize? I had to keep going to school every day, attended classes, and played (sometimes argued and fought) with my classmates. That’s all I did.
I couldn’t write what I thought. Instead, I was required to write down the good and bad things I did, as a kind of self-criticism. This B.S. is similar to the employee performance review in US. I guess the nonsense did have legs to cross country borders.
In the high school, I was really struggling on writing. Every writing assignment was a torture to me. I could write a short paragraph with about 100 words. After that, my brain became empty. Now what? Sorry, Teacher, but I don’t’t have anything more to say.
During the national college entrance exams, my Chinese (including writing) barely passed. My other courses scored well, especially math, physics and English. And I went to a college in Beijing.
College and beyond:
In the college, no Chinese courses were required. Yeah! Quite a liberation. Finally I was able to say goodbye to writing.
Looking back, I feel I was never trained or encouraged to look at the world and things in different perspectives. I was brainwashed by the political propaganda, and lost my own identity. More accurately, probably I was never allowed to develop my own identity when I was young.
I was a kid when going to the college, and became an adult after the college. The 4 years completely changed me. I started seeking and developing my own identity.
Coming to America helped me to realize who I am, and what kind of person I wanted to be. Living in America freed my brain and mouth. I just say whatever I’m thinking, good, bad or ugly. Face mask no more.
Sometimes my straight talk caused frowns to my parents and friends. In China, diplomacy is the key for good relationships. I feel that is hypocrisy and lies, not diplomacy. If you disagree with someone, just say it directly.
After retirement, writing became one of my hobbies. It’s a great way to sort out my own thoughts. It also helps to improve my English. Plus it’s good for my brain. And it’s free!
Blogging is fun. I don’t have to be a professional writer in order to blog.
Dear readers, what were your favorite subjects when you were in the school? Do you like writing? And why?