Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Hotpot and Dumplings: A Year in Dongbei

A Street in Shenyang, China

Maybe I should start a whole new blog about my China book, but on the grounds that three blogs are enough, I won't - not for now, anyway.

Ten years ago I worked for a Chinese company in a fairly remote region 60 miles from the border with North Korea.

I decided before I went that I'd write a book about it when I came back to London. I did just that - first as a chronological account compiled from emails, a journal and notes. I even had a Word  file that I kept open when I was in the Chinese office where I worked as a 'foreign editor'.

 It took me about a year to draft the material  into chapters when I got back. Other events hindered progress,  such as some part-time lecturing and a period  when I suffered from a near-fatal burst  appendix.

All I can say about the latter is don't get it when you're sixty so that it's the last thing they suspect. And don't get the symptoms on Friday night and  have to wait until Sunday afternoon for the operation.

I wasn't too happy with the first draft of the book, so I decided to make the chapters topic-based which worked better. It meant trawling through the  printed text, once I'd decided I'd decided on the topic headings which ranged from accounts of the canteen food to visits to  cities in the Dongbei, or Northeast, region.  (Except it's  Eastnorth because that's how the Chinese refer to map directions).

In the intervening years I've mined the material for articles and stories but never really finished it as a book.  I've also learned a lot about writing (I hope). So now's  the time to give it another go.

This blog will be about progress with the writing, although from time to time I'll include photos and extracts.