Welcome to my regularly scheduled bi-weekly interview series. I am pleased to share with you the blog of a talented writer, photographer, and world traveler. I have blogged with Yinglan for a while and am pleased to call her a good friend in the blogging world. Please visit her blog here: This is Another Story – About Life, Fantasy, and Everything In Between.
1. Hi Yinglan, Please tell us About Yourself?
Hi, my name is Yinglan Z. and the name of my blog is This is Another Story because isn’t every day in life another story?
I recently completed my second academic degree in Accounting and am currently spending a brief four months in my hometown of Zhongshan, China to get reacquainted with my relatives as well as the place I lived during the first decade of my life. When I am not in China having an adventure, I lead a pretty boring life in the suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah.
At the moment, I am a self-employed translator, working with my mom to update the Chinese version for a software guide widely used by schools around the world. However, my personal goal is to either become a full-time writer or find a job where I’m applying what I’ve learned from my two degrees because isn’t that why I got two degrees?
2. Please Tell Us About Your Writing and Blogging? What do You Hope to Accomplish in Writing?
I began writing in 2013 and the purpose of my blog (at first) was to post the speeches I’d written for Toastmasters, an international club for public speaking. Then, I fell in love with storytelling; thus, my blog for fictional stories began. I wrote fiction and participated in flash fiction challenges during summer of 2014 and discovered fiction writing was a way for me to relax.
Once I began participating in challenges the readership for my blog grew and in 2015, I made the decision to make my blog both a fiction and lifestyle blog to add more variety and so I could write what about whatever I wanted to write about. In late 2015, I made another decision — to change the name to something more fitting: This is Another Story.
“Then, I fell in love with storytelling and, thus, my blog for fictional stories began. I wrote fiction and participated in flash fiction challenges during summer of 2014 and discovered fiction writing was a way for me to relax.” – Yinglan Z
3. When did you really begin writing and blogging? Why is Writing Meaningful for you? Do You Find You Are Able to Help Others Through Your Blogging?
I began writing after I joined Toastmasters in 2011. That’s when I discovered my love for storytelling. Before that, the task of sitting in front of a computer typing and writing an essay or a story seemed daunting to me, although, I don’t know why.
Although I wasn’t diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) until early 2016, I’ve always known I have anxiety issues. I’ve tried various methods to relax – yoga, meditation, music – but none is more relaxing than writing stories.
When I was attending school full-time, working multiple jobs, I would come home to write because it would mean I was able to let my mind drift to another reality even if it was only for a few minutes.
4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write? Why is Writing and Blogging Significant to You?
A lot of the inspiration for my stories comes from around me – television shows, movies, current events, (etc). There’s always a story going on in my head and if I let it stay in my head, it’ll drive me insane. Maybe it goes with my stubborn personality? Also, it’s important to record my thoughts and feelings because bottling them up won’t help me or anyone.
“Although I wasn’t diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) until early 2016, I’ve always known I have anxiety issues. I’ve tried various methods to relax – yoga, meditation, music – but none is more relaxing than writing stories.” – Yinglan Z
5. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects? Have You Ever Had Any Writing Published?
I am currently finishing a few short stories for my collection called: A Light in the Dark. I am also in the process of expanding a short story into a novel. Both of those things are progressing slowly due to the number of events I am attending in China but they are coming along.
I published a story in an online newsletter for NLSC – National Language Service Corp – a few years ago about the Mid-Autumn Festival and that was the only piece I have ever published other than blog posts. My future are noted above, to publish a collection of short stories and a novel. Who knows, maybe I’ll submit a piece to a magazine or something when I have time.
6. Can You Briefly Describe Your Writing Process? Do You Prefer Certain Areas if Writing and Reading Genres?
I’m still trying to figure out my writing process. I write whenever a story pops into my head which is usually night time. I’m not sure why, but my imagination feels blank during the day. Maybe it’s the fact I’m tired and my mind is getting ready to dream?
I am also a huge fan of the suspense and thriller genres because those are the stories that keep me at the edge of my seat. I also enjoy investigative and crime-solving stories. I used to like to read Young Adult fiction and the supernatural genre but lately, not so much. Maybe I’m growing up?
“I am currently finishing a few short stories for my collection called: A Light in the Dark. I am also in the process of expanding a short story into a novel.” – Yinglan Z.
7. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Bloggers and Writers?
My advice for new writers and bloggers would be to don’t give up. Keep writing! Most people do not become famous with their first story. Keep trying. Also I encourage you to visit other blogs and comment on other bloggers’ posts. Participate in challenges and sooner or later, other bloggers will pay you a visit and almost always this starts a chain reaction. You discover new blogs and bloggers and their followers may also follow you in return. As well, leave your link and some information at blogging parties and learn to network through and with other bloggers. Be willing to look at other blogs and learn from them as well.
8. For fun, do you have any particular blogs you follow? What Do You Like About Them?
Oh wow, that is difficult to choose since I follow thousands of blogs. I will say my favorite kinds of blogs are photography, travel, and flash fiction. I like these kinds of blogs because I can often learn a thing or two from them.
“My advice for new writers would be to don’t give up. Keep writing! Most people do not become famous with their first story. Keep trying.” – Yinglan Z
9. Can You Please Share With us a Few Favorite Links from Your Blog?
I wrote this poem a long time ago (about 14 or 15 years old) and decided to share it about two years ago. It was written during the phase when I wanted to be a singer-songwriter.
By Yinglan Z.
Your yesterday is gone But your today is here sooner than you think You wish you haven’t gotten everything wrong And you wish you can make all the bad go away And you say
Tomorrow Things are going to be okay Tomorrow It will all change
Your today is gone And you have made no commitment To bring changes Oh and you just kept on saying that
Tomorrow Things are going be all right Tomorrow It will all be bright
Day and day went by You just sat behind your table Waiting for changes to come to you You say, “It’ll be okay” And I say “it’ll be okay when you start making changes for yourself” And you say starting tomorrow
Things are going to be all right Tomorrow It will all be right It will all be bright It will be the day when I set thing right
Thank you to Yinglan for agreeing to be interviewed and for sharing about her writing and her life.
Just to note: Yinglan has returned from her relatives in China and has been visiting my home country of Canada in Alberta checking out The Rocky Mountains in Banff and around Lake Louise. She was recently in Yellow Stone National Park in the U.S. and if you follow her blog, Yinglan’s photographs of her travels are also a huge highlight when you read her posts. She is talented at taking beautiful shots of scenery while traveling and finding interesting places abroad and from around her home.
If you would like to be a part of my bi-weekly interview series please let me know via my Contact Page. See you in two weeks with another exciting interview 🙂
Kyria had been warned since she was a small child, beyond the veil was dangerous. Her older siblings had told her monsters lived there, that there were witches waiting to eat a young child.
What the adults said wasn’t much better. Her Grandma Iris said she’d lose her soul if she was caught in the veil beyond. She talked about shape shifters and immortal creatures of the dark such as vampires and werewolves.
One day hanging the laundry on the line at her grandmothers, Kyria gazed at the veil nearby. She hadn’t thought of it for a long time and she wasn’t sure why it called to her now. She’d never admit she could hear the whispers of the creatures which lived their. They were tempting her and she knew it.
Did everyone in the village see the veil as she did? Kyria believed they had no idea where it physically was, that to them it was was only folklore for children and not a real thing; it was extremely real to Kyria and she knew for her grandmother as well.
Kyria was twenty-four and long past the age of adulthood. Her parents lived together and her siblings with their families. She hadn’t found a suitable man to marry so her father decided she should move in with her ailing Grandmother and care for her. He thought she needed to be of use somewhere since she hadn’t married quickly as her sisters did.
The more Kyria thought about the veil and the mist shrouding it, the more she thought about how she’d never put herself out there in life. She’d always done what she was told and when others failed she was the one who took their place, who filled in so everything went smoothly.
It was how she made up for her so-called “selfishness,” still being single and not having children for her family and village. She wondered why she had never pushed her boundaries and was tired of being ruled by her father’s and her grandmother’s whims.
Kyria loved her Grandma Iris the most because she understood Kyria better than anyone. But her grandma still cautioned her to never cross the veil daily. But grandma was inside sleeping and Kyria heard the whispers from veil more and more these days. They were a sirens call to her.
She ignored all she had been told by her grandma, her family, and her friends as a child. She decided today she would cross the shrouded veil into the other world. Dropping the laundry Kyria walked towards the veil and into the mist surrounding it. The veil shimmered as she came closer and sonorous voice could be heard singing on the other side.
When she reached the line where the spiritual and natural worlds met Kyria stopped for a moment and stood. She smiled and with both hands raised in front of her she was able to feel the mystical energy she was about to pass through.
She stepped into the shimmering fog and breathed deeply. Her long blond hair flew out behind her and it was the last thing her grandmother saw as she watched her granddaughter cross into the other world.
Grandma Iris sighed in frustration but she knew as it had been with her, the veil had been too much of a temptation for Kyria. She knew that adventure and discovery awaited her sheltered granddaughter. As it had been with Iris, the veil and it’s magic was in Kyria’s blood. Grandma Iris was the only one besides Kyria who actually could see the veil, she had made herself guardian of the gateway and hoped Kyria would take over for her one day.
But as the last of Kyria’s blond hair slipped through veil and disappeared, Iris couldn’t help being thrilled for her granddaughter. What awaited Kyria would shape and change her. It would motivate and hurt her, it would be an experience far beyond the scope anyone in the village would ever experience.
Iris blew a kiss towards the veil and whispered a blessing for Kyria. The feelings of excitement in Iris were so intense it was as if it were fifty-years-ago and she herself was crossing the veil.
Since the beginning of the campaign in the US for the final Republican and Democratic nominees, I haven’t been able to get this poem out of my head. Perhaps I had such a wonderful professor for American Poetry that Robert Frost’s “The Mending Wall,” made such an impression on me.
Thirteen years after I’ve graduated, I still think about this poem and what wisdom Frost imparts to people in his own time and ours. Mainly he suggests his poem is less about literal walls or fences, but about how neighbors should treat each other. Whether you’ve read the poem or not, you may find certain correlations between Frost’s poem and the current political situation in the US.
I think the biggest issue Frost’s poem highlights is why we build walls in the first place. The line at the beginning of the poem: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” implies not all of us enjoy having walls between us and our neighbors (1). Frost isn’t merely talking about physical walls or fences but about the walls that exist in relationships between people.
It’s practical and helpful for to us to avoid petty arguments by having physical fences around our yards. But Frost suggests in “The Mending Wall,” it is not helpful at all, to have walls and distance between people and their relationships with one another. This can cause large rifts between people when they don’t agree or share a similar opinion. Communication and negotiation need to be encouraged, instead of building bigger walls. We forget many other people in this world are the same as us, going through similar trials. It doesn’t matter their religion or ethnicity, we’re all human.
Open communication and friendly communication is a necessary key to life. While physically we may have to “set the wall between us once again,” or have certain boundaries, I don’t recall stone walls every setting to right differences of opinion or thought (14). We can’t stop talking because we don’t agree, reaching for the best compromise available is vital.
Erecting a wall between the US and Mexico will affect US relationships with other nations, not only Mexico. It also makes the US government appear isolationist. Moreover, it affects other countries who would think it was okay to support their own selfish ideologies which are not democratic.
Isolationist countries and governments do not prosper in themselves or in helping their citizens prosper. In today’s world it is critical for us all to have open communication and at times compromise and not always get ‘our own way’ with other countries for the good of all; the current US government goes against this globalized view. Trump stands for himself and if you’re a lucky American who supports a view he does, he might stand for you too. But it’s not something I would count on in a person who is extremely unpredictable.
In Frost’s poem, the lines: “There where it is we do not need the wall: / He is all pine and I am apple orchard. / My apple trees will never get across / [and] eat the cones under his pines, I tell him,” show the utter absurdity of having such a thick solid wall between the narrator and his neighbor (23-27). Frost’s point in these lines is if the speaker and his neighbor acted neighborly, they wouldn’t require a fence between them. It’s absurd to have a wall between them because the narrator’s apples don’t eat his neighbor’s pine cones and vice versa. The neighbor lacks insight into the situation.
He is similar to Trump who wants a wall between the US and Mexico beyond the border which already exists. Trump is akin to the neighbor insisting ” . . . good fences make good neighbors.” Truly walls break down relations between people and invite people to spew hatred and feel they are entitled to act badly and Trump’s actions are encouraging this behavior (27). People have choices to act how their conscience tells them, but when the government decides on input-less actions that destroy relations with other parts of the world and with US citizens, this government is self-serving.
Frost’s speaker also wonders about this wall he and his neighbor always fix in spring. He asks “. . . why do [fences] make good neighbors . . . ” commenting that “[before] I built a wall I’d ask to know / [what] I was walling in or walling out, / [and] to whom I was like to offense” (32-34). For me, these lines are shockingly apt in current US politics.
In Robert Frost’s poem “The Mending Wall,” the wall is not only a physical wall/fence it’s symbolic of relations between neighbors and metaphorical walls between people, in a broader sense, all sovereign nations. Trump insists on building a wall because it will wall out drugs from entering the US. He also believes he is keeping out illegal immigrates as well as crime. I think Frost would say, Trump is missing the bigger picture.
To my knowledge, Obama never had outstanding issues with Mexico. Most of us are aware of the drugs going back and forth across the border from Mexico and the people who want to leave Mexico for a better life. I would argue as many have, one way or another, the immigrants who want to get through are going to find a way through.
We also know for a fact, there are already tunnels to bring drugs into the US. If Trump wants to stop drug cartels from selling drugs, maybe he should focus on his own citizens involved in the purchase and selling of drugs. If you take away the market, perhaps you stop drug trafficking; however, my hunch is if Mexico sells fewer drugs, those who want or need drugs, will find another source.
Additionally, Frost’s line about giving “offense” is relatable to Trump not caring what Mexico thinks about the wall (34). He wants to make them pay for it and he doesn’t care that their President refused. He offended Mexico and its citizens; hopefully, he doesn’t plan on vacationing there anytime soon as many US citizens like to do. He’s going to make it difficult for US citizens wanting to vacation in Mexico and other places around the world in general. I’ve meant many wonderful American citizens on vacations but I know there are places where they still have to wear a Canadain flag on their outfit, so they are not thought be Americans. I would hate for this to be worse because of current affairs.
He’s going to make it difficult for US citizens wanting to vacation in Mexico and other places around the world in general. I’ve met many wonderful American citizens on vacations but I know there are places where they still have to wear a Canadain flag on their outfit, so they are not thought be Americans because it would be dangerous to them or their cash supply. I would hate for this to be worse because of current affairs in the US.
As well, Trump offended the Mexican President who refused to visit the US after Trump announced the wall. He’s set back relations with his physical and symbolic wall with Mexico. I believe US dealings with other countries will suffer setbacks as well because I think other nations will see US actions and be less inclined to trust their government and Trump.
The most curious part to me is how one man can destroy relations with other countries around the word so quickly through his lack of diplomacy and unwillingness to cooperate. I don’t want the US, Canada, or anywhere to be larger targets for radical terrorists or desperate criminals because Trump is blocking people from migrating to the US from the Middle East. Many people there are like us, regular people who don’t deserve to be labeled terrorists due to their religion. Some of those people require help due to actual terrorists such as ISIS, who are making it difficult for them to meet their basic needs.
Frost also writes in his poem about those who don’t love walls and would like them down. His narrator sees no need for the wall and thinks he could tell his neighbor, “‘I could say “Elves” to him, / [but] it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather / [he] said it for himself (35 – 38). Frost implies the neighbor needs to recognize for himself and ‘say’ for himself, that the physical and metaphorical wall between them is absurd.
I think the same principles apply to Trump and his wall. The wall is a thoughtless law as well as the symbolic breaking down of US relations with other countries such as Mexico and realistically, several others. The current US President won’t ever admit he is wrong.
In the end, I find the situation with Trump and the US government much the same as Frost describes the neighbour in his poem: “In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed./ He moves in darkness as it seems to me, / [not] of woods only and the shade of trees (40 – 42). To the narrator of Frost’s poem, rebuilding the wall between his neighbour and him is a game.
He even wonders if he could put “a notion” in his neighbours head and say “[elves]” made the stones fall out of place (29,37). But to the neighbour such as the US government, this is no game. While the rest of us mock Trump and have “mischief” in us as we read daily what Trump’s decided to do now, we are also somewhat afraid.
Trump walks around as Frost’s speaker’s neighbor, “an old-stone savage armed . . . [moving] in darkness . . . (40-41). This darkness is as an ignorance and not only of “woods . . . and the shade of trees (42).” I cannot imagine all the duties a President has; however, I do know about starting a new job as I’m sure many people can relate to.
Often, it is best to let things be done the way they have been done, to learn the experience and the wisdom behind the methods people use currently, before implementing massive change. At times, we think our own way of doing something is better. Then one day it hits us why something was done a certain way, how much easier it is to keep doing it that particular way. Once you learn how things are done, then changes can be implemented with reason and with experience behind that reasoning.
With US relations with its own citizens and the citizens of the world, we can only hope Trump ends his walk in darkness and ignorance. Perhaps one day he will step into the light and see why past Presidents acted how they did in certain matters? That he was elected by citizens and speaks and acts for them.
It’s my hope he searches beyond his own experience, what he’s been able to do freely as wealthy and powerful man. I hope he listens to the people who elected him and acts with discernment, that he learns to think before he acts. One encouraging thing about Trump I did hear was his admiration of Winston Churchill.
In conclusion, Frost calls his poem “The Mending Wall” because he hopes each year relations with his neighbour will improve, that eventually they won’t need a wall between them. Can we hope this much of the new US government? That they will not build walls to isolate their country? That they will not only think about themselves in this diverse, multicultural, and globalized world? I hope so. I’d hope Trump eventually learns to mend relations with his neighbours and not to snub them or God forbid, cause war. I hope he learns to see beyond the saying, ” . . . [good] fences make good neighbours” (45).