By Zhang Qinghua
Published: 2007-03-15

Time: The end of 2006
Place: Beijing Xiaoxitian

Part One of Two

Zhang Qinghua: Where did your earliest impulse to write come from? Was it during your early teens, or were you even younger? What influenced you to become a writer? How long did it take you to become a true writer with published works?

Yu Hua: I started writing in the 1980's. That was China's most brilliant period of literature in a half century-- almost all literary journals published several hundred thousand copies. My start in writing has a definite relationship with this. Also, I enjoyed reading. But what was it after all that made me decide to be a writer? Now that I think about it, I can't exactly remember. But I actually don't believe that this question is important; what's important is why so many people choose not to persist while others do. An author's maturation is definitely intimately related to his environment; when I wrote my first short story, publishing books was not that important,but being published in a famous periodical was. By writing one short story, an author could become famous. With this premise, our generation of writers all were fundamentally first writers of short stories, then of novelettes, before they finally went on to write longer pieces of fiction. For me, the first three short stories are important. What encouraged me in writing the first short story was the need to finish it, this conviction.

Zhang: Were you a dentist then?

Yu: Yes. I was twenty three at the time. What encouraged my second short story was the discovery of a few exquisite sentences, and this was an extremely important element that compelled me to go on. Of course, now when I look back on it those lines were a mess. When I wrote the third short story, I discovered that one character I was writing about was very interesting, and as a result I progressed with it quickly. At that point the story was published.

Zhang: Published where?

Yu: In Xichao, the first issue of 1983. It was written very poorly but was still published.

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