“You’re stepping on my shadow, please back off,” she said.

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

Lowering Expectations

By Eric Abrahamsen, published

The following is a translation of "thing number one" from Han Han's latest blog post, "Three Things". He's talking about the continued non-appearance of his much-ballyhoo'd new literary magazine, called <独唱团> (temporary translation: Band of Soloists, any better suggestions?).

I attended two press conferences in Beijing, not for any promotional purposes – I don't like doing promotion even for books that earn me money directly, and I rarely meet with media or readers face to face. The purpose of these conferences was to lower everyone's expectations for Band of Soloists. I had originally meant this magazine to be a freer, wilder sort of literary magazine, but unfortunately, given present publishing restrictions, it's going to be difficult to realize that plan, and I'm also not willing to compromise to the point where the magazine is no better than traditional literary magazines. The magazine has yet to go to print, and the first issue is far from having a publication date. Actually the contents of the first issue were ready months ago; even the second issue is mostly complete, but various stumbling blocks have kept us from printing. I'm feeling pretty helpless; I'll try harder to work with my partners. Please understand that I personally have no desire for delays, I only meant to improve the lives of writers in China, and if the delays continue they could hold up my own finances too, I might not even get a new set of clothing for New Years. So I'm not delaying on purpose, I'm just trying to get a freer creative space for the writers who believe in me. Maybe my own strength and abilities are limited – I hope readers will forgive me, and forgive my incompetence. And please, everyone, lower your expectations for this literary magazine. Even if and when it finally goes to print, the first few issues will likely be terrible. I will do everything I can to guarantee a basic level of quality, but please don't hold out too much hope for it. Let me say to you once again, the flight will continue to be delayed, not because of technical errors with the plane, but because of inclement weather conditions.

Comments

# 1.   

A couple of things bug me about this piece:

"I might not even get a new set of clothing for New Years."

He might consider managing his finances a little better. Or popping over to Tianlantian at Lize Qiao on the southwest 3rd Ring or the market opposite the zoo if he's still in Beijing.

"I'm just trying to get a freer creative space for the writers who believe in me."

Bloody hell, not even my student who named himself Narcissus is this narcissistic (and that's one of the more appropriate choices of English name I've come across in my teaching career)! Nah, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt (and assume he no longer has irritating music play automatically when you open his blog) and assume he means "believes in my ability to open this new magazine that offers a freer space for Chinese writers".

Which brings me to the positive comment:

Good on him for trying. Best of luck dealing with the nameless, shadowy "them".

Chris Waugh, January 11, 2010, 5:44a.m.

# 2.   

I hear you, Han Han. The last line says it all: "...flight will continue to be delayed, not because of technical difficulties with the plane, but because of inclement weather conditions." Forecast for 2010: expect more ground delays.

 Cindy Carter, January 11, 2010, 6:51a.m.

# 3.   

Please have a look at the blog I created for Han Han, let's work together to bring better infomation about Han Han for the world

A Blog About Han Han, April 12, 2010, 12:54p.m.

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