In a nutshell, Tan summed creativity as the sense of inability to repress looking at anything in life. As a writer, it is important to be able to receive inspiration from everything. She also stated that creative people are multidimensional, able to see through multiple layers of an issue. This makes sense since the ability to see and analyze many layers becomes the backbone of a rich and vibrant writing. In her presentation, she talked about how she received her inspiration, an experience that she described as ambiguous. She needs moral ambiguity to write stories. This moral ambiguity creates a sequence of responses and intentions, the fuel of her stories.
I am still in the middle of reading The Joy Luck Club, the first of her novels. The Joy Luck Club explores mother-daughter relationships of four women and each of their mothers. More specifically, Chinese mothers who went to the United States, seeking for a better life and future. All of the women had a somewhat murky past. They found each other through a Mah Jong club that they named “Joy Luck”. Friendship bloomed in that club, as well as competition. Being very close to my mother, needless to say, there were instances when I found myself crying on the bus while reading the book. The book itself is almost autobiographical to Tan’s life. Facets of her and her mother’s history serve as the basis of the stories in The Joy Luck Club.
Tan’s idea of creativity is relatable, at least to me. Creativity comes to me when I have an enquiry, when I begin to question aspects of life, and in some cases, of death. I sometimes make up my own answers and assumptions to some questions, as for the rest, I do research. The research depends on the time and resources. If I have enough time and resources, I’ll do a thorough analysis. If I don’t, I will have to be satisfied with what I have and go on with my life. Perhaps along the way, I will get more answers.
Nonetheless, these questions, including the what-ifs have become the source of my inspiration. I create a dialog within my head, with hypotheses and more questions. I will have these conversations until I’m ready to sleep. Usually they calm me down because I’m assured I will have enough to write.
Amy Tan believes that one characteristic of a good writer is that he or she never stops thinking. If that is the case, then I believe I have the making of a good writer.