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Writing Space of Mingmei Yip

Mingmei Yip has been writing and publishing since she was fourteen years old and now she has twelve books to her credit.  Her five novels are published by Kensington Books and her two children’s books are published by Tuttle Publishing.  Mingmei is also a renowned qin (ancient string instrument) musician, calligrapher and painter.  In Hong Kong, she was a columnist for seven major newspapers.  She has appeared on over sixty TV and radio programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and the US. Visit her Website.

Last year, I really enjoyed Skeleton Women, and The Nine Fold Heaven picks up where the previous book ends.  “An ex spy and nightclub singer who undertakes an emotional and dangerous journey to reunite with her lost lover and the baby she was told was stillborn, and to discover the secret of her parents’ murder.”

Mingmei Yip - Author of Nine Fold HeavenCome along with an ex spy as she returns to Shanghai where she’s a wanted woman – but she has to search for her baby and her lost lover. Is her baby really alive? Will she be able to find her lover? Can she elude the police long enough to find them? Learn much more about The Nine Fold Heaven and Mingmei Yip.

Nine Fold Heaven is part of a series about Camilla the songbird and female spy – you can also read Skeleton Women, the first book about Camilla.

Today, I’ve got a great guest post from Yip about her writing space.  Please give her a warm welcome.

Writing space: I only write at home. I can’t write at cafes, since most have loud music which is a distraction for me. But when they play classical music, then I stop writing and listen, so that does not work for me, either.

Writing Space - 3I consider myself lucky to have a small room just for myself in my apartment which I use as my writing space. Luckily, my little room has a view of the north side of Manhattan and the East River. So, when I just can’t type anymore, I lift my head and soothe my eyes by staring at the peaceful scene outside the window. Soon I am refreshed and back at work.

I have decorated my writing room with some of my favorite things – books, plants, flowers, my own paintings and calligraphy. Writing is a solitary and difficult journey, so I try to fill my space with what I find both beautiful and spiritually inspiring. I also keep amulets next to me for protection, just in case.

Writing Space - 1Writing habits: I don’t have a chance to write every day, because like everyone else, I have other responsibilities in life. So when I have a chance to write, I write as much and as long as I can. This is like gorging yourself when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from. In any case, it is what works for me. It helps that I can take a nap whenever I want.

Writing tips: I plunge into writing and ignore everything around me. Since I was a tiny girl I have always preferred life inside my own head. Whenever I have writer’s block, I’ll read or watch a movie. This usually triggers ideas for me so I can go back to write. I also read a lot, not only to feed my imagination and creativity, but also to have a point of comparison for my own writing.

Writing Space - 2I think it is still essential to master the basics. Not only voice, characterization, dialogue, plot, but also sentence structure, its rhythm and music. I always try to vary the length of my sentences and start each one with a different subject. It’s essential to spent whatever time it takes to find the right word. Sometimes, it is a single word that brightens a whole paragraph.

There is a Chinese saying “Slap on the thigh and exclaim!” That’s how the readers will react to a good choice of word. Readers may not be aware of the meticulous hard work behind a smooth sentence, but if you don’t pay attention, they will soon become bored. I also think it’s good for authors to attend other cultural activities such as movies, concerts, art exhibitions. Have as diverse a background as you can cultivate, that really helps.

Most important, don’t give up! The ancient Chinese philosophy classic, the Daode Jing says more things are spoiled in the end than the beginning. Stick through to the end.

Thanks, Mingmei, for sharing your writing space with us, as well as your writing habits. I’m the opposite, too much quiet and I can’t write.

  • Dear friends,
    Thank you for all your lovely comments and especial thanks to Serena for giving me the chance to talk about writing.
    I don’t have a writing schedule so I have to be acutely aware of my deadline. Also, I never have a complete plot before I start a new novel, only ideas, and these will always mysteriously lead to where the story needs to go.
    The scence outside my window doesn’t inspire my writing, only refreshes me.
    Happy reading and writing!
    Mingmei Yip
    http://www.mingmeiyip.com

  • I think I could write in a space like that!

  • I love her views!! I wish I could write!

    • I love the views too.

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  • Wow — those are some gorgeous spaces! The view out her window — WOW!

    • Right! So gorgeous…though not sure I wouldn’t totally space out and not write with that view.

  • I would love a view like that whether for writing or reading. I need background noise to do much of anything but it can’t be really loud. Great post today.

    • I really love those views.

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  • Ti

    A writing routine hasn’t worked for me yet 😉

    I love her writing space, although I think I’d be distracted by the lovely view. Right now my space is in my garage which works for focus but the best time of the day for me to write is early…like before 5am and that puts me at work.

    • I had a loft space for writing, but it has now become a junk space full of old clothes and stuff from a little girl

  • I don’t think I could write in a coffee shop either. I’m rather fascinated that she doesn’t have a writing routine.

    • I am fascinated by the lack of a writing routine as well. That must be hard to get books completed.

  • I just read both Skeleton Women and The Nine Fold Heaven, both were excellent books.
    Nice to read about the writing space they were written in. I don’t do nearly as much writing as I’d like, but I also can’t write when it’s to quite, I like music or something in the background.

    • I am nearly done with Nine Fold Heaven now, and hope to have a review next week. I too like music in the background