In an interview for this project, author Maxine Hong Kingston talked about the reasons she started writing and the stories that make her want to continue in this work. Some of Ms. Kingston's recent works include Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts and China Men.
Listen to the audio.
"I never made a decision to be a writer. It seems like the muse or writing itself chose me. And I seem to have been chosen for these particular stories, these poems, these words. And even this career. When I was in my 40s and 50s, there were times when I felt discouraged with writing and with my life. And I thought, what did I do? I let an eight year old decide that I was going to be a writer forever. So I have tried to escape at various times, but I never could."
Interviewer: "What brought you back, do you think?"
"What brought me back to writing would be the … a compelling story. And it seemed as if there were voices of characters who called me or who kept speaking to me, until I would tell their story. But also some times when a story began to happen, I would be so joyful, and I'd feel so high and happy, then I keep going.
Interviewer: "Did you have a mentor, another person that you, you know, a writer that you found to be helpful, and how did that person help you?"
"I don't feel that I had mentors, but I had great teachers, and I had ... and I got to meet a real writer, when I was about 12. This writer was Howard Pease, and he comes from Stockton, and he wrote young adult adventure stories. And in his stories, he wrote about Stockton, and I could recognize the streets, and the buildings. And so, I could see with my own eyes, reality becoming word. And I got to meet him, and so I could see a real human being, who could accomplish this magic.
"The teachers were not mentors in the sense that they weren't writers themselves, but they were the most amazing, caring, listening people, and they were able to give skills, and grammar and all of this technique that I loved.
. . .
"And those teachers were people who somehow made me feel that it was okay to show them my writing. I, as a child, my ... the writing was secret, and when I wrote it, I had no desire to show it to anyone. But, for some reason, these teachers, I wanted to show it to them, and I wanted their praise, I wanted their feedback. I just wanted to see what reaction they had, as they read my work."