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Weekend Tales #3
A new strategy for Tai Tales, and dealing with a new housemate
I’m currently writing from a boutique luxury hotel in Kuala Lumpur because I’m taking a break from a toddler with fangs. Namely this furry monster:
Choosing to foster an energetic, bite-y teenage kitten when you’re dealing with mental fatigue and burnout was not the best idea, but look at that face! How do you resist that? (If you’re interested in my cat adventures, I wrote more about Apri in my latest blog post.)
Speaking of burnout, I had not expected to be away from Tai Tales this long. But to be honest with ya, the thought of resuming my Substack routine and all that it entails made me a little scared. 😅
There’s just so much work to stay connected and get noticed on Substack. My overstretched brain just didn’t want to deal with it. And frankly, I still don’t think I can keep up now that I feel better.
But getting off the production treadmill made me reflect a lot on my Substack strategy. “Publish what I feel like” feels wrong to me now.
For one, I realised that publishing Being Chinese in an anti-China world was not the right step for Tai Tales. Not because I was ashamed about what I wrote — I think it’s a super important topic that more people (especially Westerners) need to know about.
But it’s a wrong fit for Tai Tales because:
It can be jarring for readers to suddenly receive a newsletter about geopolitics and imperialism when they were expecting a relaxing read, like fiction.
Politics is a highly sensitive matter, and I received some negative attention due to my unconventional narrative about China. Some comments turned me off Substack Notes for several days. I was deeply disappointed with the human race for a while. These feelings and reactions is not something I want to invite to this space. I want Tai Tales to be a cosy place, not a place where war takes place in the comments.
Most of all, it is distracting me from my main purpose for the newsletter: to share fiction and build a consistent fiction writing practice.
So, from now on, this blog will be focused on fiction and the work that goes into creating them!
This feels right.
That said, I also realise one thing: Distant Stars is heavily influenced by the geopolitics I see. It will come up again once in a while, but not in the form that you saw.
If you do want to read my non-fiction, my personal website, elizabethtai.com is a great place to go.
You can also watch out for the Weekend Tales issue (like this one!). It’s the monthly digest where I share all the content I’ve written and produced.
Like I don’t need more hobbies already, but I decided to publish my Asian drama reviews to another blog: Drama Tea. I even created a Youtube channel and podcast for it. Some of the reviews I’ve published so far:
Other things I wrote on my personal blog:
FYI, I blog the POSSE way, which means that I treat my website as a hub of content that pulses out to my social media channels, including this one. You can read more about this blogging technique in my post, POSSE and PESOS: Better ways to publish content.
Here are some articles that caught my eye recently:
Re-take control of your social media — Preach, brother!
The case against pets: is it time to give up our cats and dogs? — seeing how unhappy Apri was, confined to my tiny apartment, longing for the outside, and spending most of the day alone, has made me rethink about how we approach pet ownership. Sometimes, animals are meant to wander, even if it means that their lives are shorter as a result.
Streaming Has Reached Its Sad, Predictable Fate (gated content) — I am currently subscribed to Netflix, iQIYI, Youku and WeTV and seriously the emoji that best reflects my feelings about this is
I’m trying to read David Baldacci’s Last Man Standing, but in the first chapter our hero spends paragraphs lovingly talking about the guns he uses for his job. That just … turns me off somehow. Especially what’s been happening in America with all the shootings.
And then I tried to read a romance novel by Mary Jo Putney, Stolen Magic, but my brain is like, nah this is boring.
Despite my best efforts, I’m still gravitating towards serious, heavy geopolitical reads like Kishore Mahbubani’s The Asian 21st Century, Has the West Lost it? and Has China Won?
I’m still on a Chinese drama streak. I’ve recently completed Mysterious Lotus Casebook. It’s one of those rare dramas that hits all the right spots for me. My review below:
Well, that’s it folks! I hope I didn’t ramble for too long. Watch out for a more focused fiction-related Tai Tales issue soon!
As usual, I’ll be super happy if you share my newsletter, and if you hadn’t subscribed to it already, please do. And if you want to toss a coin to this bard (who can’t sing) I’ll be ever grateful!