All posts tagged: Writing

On the process of writing.

Hong Kong Cityscape

Place and Memory: Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities

I’m not sure how to describe Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. It isn’t traditional fiction on a structural level, having no story arc or a defined ending. Nor is it conventional fantasy, doing away with the worlds it creates almost as soon as it forms them. Even the broadest definitions of historical fiction and magical realism don’t quite fit, as Calvino blends real and imagined details into a concoction of seemingly irreverent tales. Invisible Cities is a travelogue to places that do not exist. It is a work that brushes aside conventions of form and narrative to ruminate on ideas of memory and place, touching on everything from trajectory of civilizations to the limits of communication. At times delightfully whimsical and intensely melancholic, Invisible Cities is a testament to the power of an author at the height of his powers to provoke, enthrall, and connect.

BreadLoaf Conference Nametag

Thoughts on the Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference

To say my time at the Bread Loaf Orion Writer’s conference was transformative is not quite right. The change I feel is more subdued, more covert, still unfurling after a week. It will take a lot longer to fully unpack, but I suspect that something new has taken root, and that things have been shaken loose. Perhaps this is how one feels after summoning the courage to start going down a new and uncertain road. Fitting then that this came about in the presence of Robert Frost’s cabin, in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Ekostories Reconnect: Majora’s Mask

Since late last year, I confess I’ve been rather absorbed with ceramics. Over the past few months, I’ve discovered the many parallels that exist between sculpting with clay and working with words. Both mediums possess their own temperament; brute force and thoughtless acts generally results in spectacular failures. Both mediums draw from the same creative pool, requiring time and distance for replenishment. The limitations of each medium forces one to devise workarounds, leading to new insights and unexpected results. The pleasure that comes from breakthroughs and completion feels similar, is intense but fleeting, and afterwards one realizes that it is the process that must ultimately provide the sustenance. Finally one must accept the work is never perfect, never finished. With all this in mind, I found myself in recent sessions drawing inspiration from the narratives I’ve explored on Ekostories. This got me thinking about pairing a few of my ceramic pieces with past essays in an attempt to reconnect with past works through new creations. I hope these combinations will spark renewed interest and insight for …

Cheung Chau Beach

On Place and Loss: Flyway’s Shells

Regular visitors of Ekostories may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as much over the past few months. It’s not that I’ve run out of things to write about or stories to explore. Actually it’s been the opposite! Over the last little while, I’ve been channeling my energies towards other creative ventures, but they still revolve around the same themes I’ve explored on Ekostories for years – the power of stories; the intersection between science and art; notions of nature; the influence of culture; journeys of identity. Many of those endeavours are starting to come into fruition, so starting today and over upcoming weeks and months, I’ll be unveiling them here, along with new and original essays on beloved tales. First off: I’m excited to announce that Flyway, a fantastic Iowa State University-based journal focused on writing and environment, has published one of my creative shorts, Shells. If you’re looking for poetry, fiction, nonfiction and visual art that “explores the many complicated facets of the word environment – at once rural, urban, and suburban – and its social …

Ursula K. Le Guin at the National Book Awards

Ursula K. Le Guin accepts the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th National Book Awards on November 19, 2014. “I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies, to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality… …Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.” – speech excerpt Copyright © 2014 Ursula K. Le Guin

Indian Rhino Bardia National Park

Nepal Revisited: Adventures in Royal Bardia Park

Recently, I had the opportunity to contribute to Beatler.com, a local blog that covers food, entertainment, travel, lifestyle and technology. Drawn to one writer’s reflections on his trip to Belize, a place that I explored almost a decade ago, I felt inspired to revisit old journeys by working on a travel piece, this time around my adventures at Royal National Bardia Park in Nepal. Returning to Nepal in mind and spirit was interesting. When I wrote the Reflection of Nepal series right after my trip, I had felt compelled to get everything down, cramming together flavours, ideas, and lessons learned lest the vivid intensity of experience fade forever from memory. But now a year and a half removed, I found myself revisiting past events with no great hurry, having the time to mull over my notes and the patience to let scenes breathe and develop naturally. The entire four-part series, complete with the customary themes of nature and culture befitting an Ekostory, has recently been posted online. You can read them here: Part 1: Bardia …

Funky Asian acorns Lithocarpus

Funky Asian Acorns: Schema’s Seeds and Leaves

Recent shifts in thinking and a trip back to Hong Kong caused me to reflect upon the past and my roots as a 1.5 generation Chinese-Canadian. Drawing upon life and circumstance for inspiration, I spent my time away from blogging to work on a piece of bicultural creative non-fiction. I am delighted to announce that the finished work has been accepted by a sustainability-themed issue of Schema Magazine, an online publication “for the interculturally-minded”. Seeds and Leaves began as a seed (ha!) sparked by a call for essays that featured a plant or tree as the main character; it has since grown to become an account of a botanical illustration class I took last fall. I hope you enjoy this short tale about a brief encounter of two immigrants, one human, one not, and I welcome your thoughts on this personal Ekostory that attempts to weave together ideas of nature, culture, and identity. Read the story here