— Yiyun Li,

author of Where Rea­sons End (Ran­dom House, Fe­bru­ary)

Poets and Writers - - The Literary Life -

Why do you write? I would feel aw­fully lonely if I stopped. What does a per­fect writ­ing day feel like to you? Cof­fee at 6 AM, some read­ing— Shake­speare or Tol­stoy—be­tween 6 and 7 AM, and af­ter that writ­ing till 11 AM, then read­ing for the rest of the day. Such a per­fect day rarely hap­pens.

What has changed you as a writer? The con­stant re­al­iza­tion that I am limited in my imag­i­na­tion or un­der­stand­ing of the world. It makes me feel much more pa­tient with the world and with my­self. What do you turn to when you feel like you’re los­ing faith? Moby-Dick. I of­ten go back to reread the novel when I feel list­less, dis­ap­pointed, or feel­ing that I’m los­ing faith.

Who do you think of when you find your­self avoid­ing the page? I haven’t re­ally avoided the page. What would you say to some­one who doesn’t be­lieve writ­ing mat­ters? I’m sorry for your loss. How do you chal­lenge your­self to grow as a writer? I read the dic­tio­nary. All those words I don’t know and haven’t used! What would you say to the ten-year-old you?

The world won’t be­come bet­ter, but you’ll find more ways to deal with it.

“I be­lieve in peo­ple’s kind­ness to oth­ers and to them­selves.”

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