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“Since childhood, I wanted to become a writer but was warned against it, so I abandoned my dream. I wasn’t able to return to that dream until I was thirty-three, therefore writing is sacred to me. I set aside time each day to write, regardless of how busy I am. To avoid getting stuck, I work on several projects simultaneously: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translation. If the door to the English language is closed, I open it with my Vietnamese key by writing a scene in Vietnamese, then translating it into English. If I have a bad writing day, I just pick up a book, knowing that a crucial part of writing is reading. I read in Vietnamese and English, and the ease at which authors deliver their stories gives me positive energy and new determination. To avoid writer’s block, I try to start each writing session with a calm mind. I practice yoga, walk, swim, and run. Once I abandon everyday worry and enter my imaginative world as a free person, my writing will take me wherever it is destined to go.”
—Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, author of The Mountains Sing (Algonquin Books, 2020)