I had the opportunity to see an interview with Rebecca Kuang otherwise known as R. F. Kuang during Pro Writing Aid’s Fantasy Writer’s week. She wrote the Poppy War Trilogy and Babel. Her fantasy trilogy was well received as a departure from the Anglo-Euro-centric fantasy stories out there for a dynastic Chinese setting for her tale. Her book Babel, as she explained, was an exploration into the Dickensian style of writing with long blocks of meandering prose. She was and is interested in exploring the craft of writing, trying something new, challenging herself to get better as a writer. She made me curious about Babel.
One of the interesting things for me was that she works full-time as a teacher at Yale. The image we have of writers is of a full-time writer with no day job to juggle. She spoke from a desk in her family room. No library or wall of books behind her. Just a space to write and do zoom calls. Her passion for her students was on par with her passion for her writing.
Most writer’s do have full-time jobs to support the obsessive habit of writing. It is a unique compulsion. When you skip a day or miss a day something with you is off. You get cranky, short-tempered, ornery.
And even when you come back to it you battle yourself in the form of Resistance. You must always work to get around Resistance. The playwright Maria Irene Fornes said, “You must always keep changing your process! Because there are two of you, one who wants to write and one who doesn’t. The one who wants to write has to keep fooling the one who doesn’t.”
Kuang said that writing the second book in the Poppy War trilogy, The Dragon Republic, was an incredibly hard task. Her agent and publisher didn’t like her first round of drafts for that book. When she stated matter-of-factly that The Empire Strikes Back was the best Star Wars film she had me hooked. I liked her immediately. It clearly is the best Star Wars film.
That thought is with me as I work on Book Two of The Annals of the Last Emissary. It’s my Empire Strikes Back. I am in the Lands of the Earth again following Aenguz as he tries to secure help and find an answer for the scourge of Ruinwasters coming to the Earth.