About this article

Writing Dream: To Burst Illusions

Imagine the excitement when literary luminaries interact with literature lovers in Singapore’s oldest government building, The Arts House. It was a reality for the audiences of the Singapore Writers Festival 2015, an annual event organised by the Singapore National Arts Council. With the theme of “Island of Dreams”, some 300 events were held from 30 October to 8 November. We look at two of such “dreams”.

Island of Dreams(From left) Hong Ying, Teoh Hee La and Hon Lai-chu at the panel discussion “Alienated in Fiction”

Chaired by Singapore writer, Teoh Hee La, the Chinese forum “Alienated in Fiction” invited two speakers, Chinese-British writer Hong Ying and Hong Kong novelist Hon Lai-chu, to discuss their writing inspirations.

Hong Ying had written numerous poems while travelling around China before eventually settling down in London in 1990. Her masterpieces include Daughter of the River, Summer of Betrayal and K: The Art of Love. Recalling her bitter experiences in China, Hong remarked emotionally that to survive, one must be “strong like a ghost”. Nevertheless, she still maintains an optimistic outlook of life and believes in kindness. Though writing is a way of finding one’s true self, Hong Ying revealed that she had lost her marriage, friendship and even herself to fame and wealth at the prime of her writing career. In her view, writing is always a challenge, especially since she suffers from “obsessive writing”, she is always constantly refining her way of writing.

Award-winning author of novels such as Grey Flower, Sewn Together and The Kite Family, Hon Lai-chu stated that we do not have a choice in many things even when we were born, such as gender and nationality; we have to learn to live with what life wants us to accept. Hon believes that while urbanised Hong Kong is materially affluent, it is spiritually impoverished. In their pursuit of efficiency, people are constantly under pressure, thus creating human relationships that appear close yet distant; everyone’s leisure activities, language and facial expressions have gradually become similar. Especially since modern education has resulted in more hypocrisy, literature’s role is to burst this illusion.

(Please look out for Part 2 – Publishing Dream: To Create Choices)

*All images courtesy of Singapore Writers Festival