Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spiral Ceiling on its Way

Hi friends,
This is the cover of my almost-ready book, a memoir about how I overcame bias and barriers to become an American DNA Scientist studying aging, all the while being married with children to love and care for. The book will be released this spring, and I'll announce it and tell you how you can find out more and order a copy if you wish. I've published a text book on genetics before, in fact I describe in Spiral Ceiling how I filled the time after my first husband died suddenly of a heart attack with writing the text book in the evenings after my son was in bed. But the release of this memoir is much more exciting to me, and I hope a lot of you will want to take a look at it and ask me questions about what happened in my life. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

American and Chinese Risk Tolerance; Writers' Risk

Two things this week resonated with my understanding about risk taking in the US and in China or among Chinese Americans today. First, I read an article in The New York Times for Sunday, January 16 about Architects Finding Dream Jobs in China. In part, it read, "The American mentality is, 'if it's never been done before, then you shouldn't do it. It's all about risk, risk, risk. The Chinese have a kind of fearlessess about building.' " The article described buildings in China with holes through them, with a five story park underneath the building, etc. When my husband and I were in Shanghai in 2005, we were astonished at the remarkable large buildings everywhere, with architecture that was far beyond anything we had seen in the US, so this attitude rang true to me.
Then there is a new book by Amy Chua about Chinese American parenting. She claims Americans are unwilling to expect very high achievement from their children, don't want to risk losing their affection, and thus don't insist that their children work at their activities enough to allow real achievement. Again the theme of risk, now in a very different context, but still saying Americans are adverse to risk.
Writers cannot really abjure risk. Writing is inherently risky and the scarier the places in a writer's soul that she explores in writing, usually the stronger the writing that results. So we need to buck this trend, or pretend to be Chinese American and learn to take these risks. Revel in the danger and enjoy the good writing that results.