On How A Construction Site Is Inspiring Me To Write

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This is the base of a building that they are constructing on a plot of land behind my office. When I first moved into this office, there was nothing on this plot of land. If you look closely at the construction site, you will see a heap of garbage at the bottom left hand corner. Next to this heap of garbage they are building two very tall, very blocky office buildings. If you come to Beijing, the first thing you will notice is how over-sized buildings are here. Malls, government offices, office towers, even apartment complexes — China builds to intimidate.

My point is that a year ago there was nothing here. Now there are the skeletons of two buildings, the excavated site of another and what I realized is the scaffolding for the building’s central lobby (the vaguely ovoid shape at the bottom right corner).

And every time I feel overwhelmed by MFA applications (writing sample! letters of recommendation! deadlines! impossible odds of getting in!) or I just cannot set another word on paper anymore because writing a short story seems as doable as reviving the dead, I come out here (here is the office balcony) and I look at this construction site.

Because one year ago, there was nothing here. But then someone made that first dig, or mixed up that first bag of cement, or lashed together those first two rods of bamboo to make a scaffolding. And if they can make an entire building brick by agonizing brick, surely I can write my short story, word by agonizing word. Surely I can conquer my MFA application anxieties, one task after another. Surely I can write this one short blog post in tiny defiance of the grayness of my spirit this rainy day when nothing really big has gone wrong but nothing has gone right either.

This construction site reminds me that the big things are done by doing the little things. 

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