Amy Tan’s ramble

Amy Tan admits that she is embarrassed when people learn that it took her eight years to write her latest novel The Valley of Amazement.

Sometimes she takes a rambling path, she told the audience at Arts & Letters Live in Dallas earlier this year. She is “lured away by many distractions.”

While she was trying to write the novel, she built a new house, visited a small village in China several times and wrote an article for National Geographic.

Along the way, she also saw a photograph of 10 women in a book about Chinese courtesan culture. The women were dressed in clothes similar to those her grandmother was wearing in an old family photo. Because the women in the photo in the book were courtesans, Tan began to wonder about her grandmother’s past. That was the inspiration for her new book.

For Amy Tan, her rambling path led to a new book. For me, her story is a reminder that sometimes paying attention to our distractions is important. We can’t always follow a straight path to our goals.

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