My English Journals

Be careful to praise somebody's children


Wed. 21th Nov., 1990. 23℃. Fine.

When trying to praise (讚美) the child of your friend, you'd better be very careful. I made a big mistake in doing so last night.

"Your daughter looks very much like Pai Yen (a famous Chinese actress of the sixties)." I said this with a good intention that the actress was beautiful with a melancholy (憂鬱的) face.

"No!" My friend replied with a high voice." She looks like me."

From her expression I knew that she was not happy to hear my praise. I guessed she probably (可能) didn't like somebody to compare her lovely daughter with an actress.

I have learned that I should take another kind of person as comparison next time. Perhaps a poet or a musician would be more suitable.


The Iron Lady steps down

Thurs. 22nd Nov., 1990. 22. Sunny.

Mrs Thatcher, the Iron Lady, resigned this morning.

According to the political critic: "This is the last step she can take."

I think it is a natural thing to happen because she has been the Prime Minister of Britain for ten years already. There should be a change.

In democratic countries, the President or Prime Minister seldom takes office more than ten years, unless he or she is an excellent figure or a dictator.

This is not a good news to Hong Kong because the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed by Mrs Thatcher. It was she who promised to keep Hong Kong stable and prospective.

Nothing is forever, especially politics.

The nearer to 1997 the lady resigns, the more unfavorable (不利於) to us it will be. Therefore, if the change can't be avoided, then it is better to have it as early as possible before 1997, so that the new leader can have more time to understand Hong Kong and to cope with (應付) the situation.


We have to face the unavoidable thing

Fri. 23rd Nov.,1990. 22. Sunny.

I had my body checkup (體檢) at the University Health Centre this morning. I should have the checkup last Monday.

A classmate told me that the nurse would puncture (刺破) my fingertip (指尖) for blood. I was so afraid of being punctured and I withdrew (臨時退縮) at the last minute.

Then a nurse with a sweet voice phoned me and urged (催促) me to have the checkup.

I have skipped (逃跑了) the anti-tetanus (破傷風) injection (注射) before the term began. I know this time I can hide no more (避無可避了).

How cruel (殘酷的) it will be to prick (刺穿) one's fingertip with a needle!

It is no use to hide away from something which someone has to faced. So I took a deep breath and made up my mind to take the challenge.

Well, it was painful, but not so serious (嚴重的) as I thought.

I was so happy when I left the health centre after hearing the doctor said: "Every thing is all right."


I choose to write a paper on Essential Elements of the art of Fiction

Sat. 24th Nov., 1990. 23. Sunny.

I am working on another paper (論文) now. It is for the course of Introduction to Literature. My lecturer gave us four topics:-
--------1). Inspirations and Thoughts in Literature;
--------2). Essential Elements of the Art of Fiction;
--------3). Essential Elements of the Art of Poetry, and
--------4). Style in Literature.

The first one is quite an abstract topic. The third and the fourth are too broad to write because there are eastern and western poetry and literature.

Fiction is comparatively (比較上) a bit more easy to handle because there are less differences and more similarities (相同) between the East and West. So I choose to work on this topic.

The most interesting aspect (方面) to talk about fiction is the point of view in narration (敘述觀點). Percy Lubbuck has given a revolutionary idea and a detail discussion on the technique in his book The Craft of Fiction (小說技巧). Other bibliographies (書目), including the famous English novelist, E.M. Forster's Aspects of the Novels (小說的觀點) will also give me help on this topic.

I can't write poems on Sundays

Sun. 25th Nov., 1990. 24. Sunny.

Not only I haven't been able to write poems on these Sundays, but also I feel that the journals written are not as good as last month.

Time is the most important factor that affects me. I used to have time to choose the topic and to plan for it before I write. Sometimes I spend quite a lot of time looking up dictionaries on rhetorical (修詞的) and grammatical problems in order to make my journals accurate (用字準確) and elegant (格調優雅). And that may take me an hour to finish a journal.

Since the beginning of November, there has been too much work preventing (阻止) me from doing that.

I love writing. It is really a great feeling after I have put down satisfactorily an idea in an essay or a little poem.

It's a pity that I can only have fifteen minutes for each journal recently (近來). So I just picked up a pen and wrote down whatever coming to my mind and hardly had time to do any modification (修飾).


Revolution of the novel writing in the west

Mon. 26th Nov., 1990. 24. Sunny.

In Chinese classical fictions (中國的古典小說: 三國西遊等), the stories are all told by the authors. Readers' imaginations (想像) will be disturbed (打斷) from time to time because the authors come up frequently to make comments (評語), reminding (提醒) readers that they are there telling their stories.

How uninteresting (無癮) it is when readers have that much of interference (干擾)!

Early this century, there was a great innovation (革新) in story writing in the western world; that was "the point of narration" (敘述觀點).

The Neutral Omniscience (全知敘事觀點) in which there is completely no intrusion (作者入侵) from the author. It is a revolution (革命) in story writing. It turn out that stories are shown (Showing 呈現法) to readers instead of being told (Telling 講述法). Readers' imaginations can go on in their minds without any disturbances (騷擾), thus resulting a movie-watching effect (看電影的效果).

What a great progress (進步) it is that makes the art of novel (小說) writing perfect.

This is mankind (人類): clever and creative (創新).


Do my presentation in front of a video camera

Tues. 27th Nov., 1990. 23. Sunny.

Last Thursday, Mrs Bond, our English Lecturer (講師) took us to the University video room and let us have our presentation (演出) in front of the video camera (錄影機).

We spent over half of that lesson learning how to use the camera, so only two of us did their presentation that day.

Isn't it a big challenge (挑戰) to stand on the podium (講台) alone, facing classmates and talking about a topic for fifteen minutes? Getting nervous (緊張) is unavoidable (難免的), especially being focused (焦點) by the camera.

Although I don't aim to be a teacher or a speaker in the future, it will be a wonderful experience (經驗) for me. I can take this chance to see how fluent my English is.

According to Mrs Bond, this is the only room that has a video camera in the university, and regretfully (遺憾地) the room is going to be cancelled next year. So I must treasure (珍惜) this opportunity (機會) and try my best to perform (表演) in the presence (眼前) of my lecturer, all my classmates and the cameraman.


Assignments that cannot be finished

Wed. 28th Nov., 1990. 22. Sunny.

It is a good feeling as well as a great relief (解脫) after you have cleared all your assignments and projects.

Two weeks ago, I put down in my schedule book (預定計劃簿) six items which has to be done within two weeks' time. They were two essays, one examination, a book report, a presentation and a paper (論文), "Essential Elements of the Art of Fiction" (小說藝術的重要元素), the greatest project.

I felt very heavy pressure at that time. I took a deep breath and prepared well to challenge (挑戰) those works.

Reading and writing hard, I finished them one by one. Every time when crossing out an item, I gained more satisfaction while pressure decreased.

Finally I got rid of all pressure; but I have just put down some items in my schedule book!  


Things often become the opposite when reaching the extreme

Thurs. 29th Nov., 1990. 22. Sunny

It was the most exciting moment I have ever experienced when I delivered my presentation on TV this morning.

The article I picked from Reader's Digest (讀者文摘) to present was about the variation (變化) of our blood pressure (血壓) when talking and listening. The second sentence I spoke was: "Though occasionally your hands may grow cold before giving a speech,....." And my hands really grew cold at that time.

I was so worried before I stepped on the podium, thinking that my legs would be trembling and I might forget all the things even with a reminding card (提示卡). I was afraid that I would say in the middle of the presentation: "I am sorry Mrs Bond. Would you please let me present it next week."

Things often become the opposite when reaching the extreme (船到橋頭自然直).

Despite (不管) the fact that I was nervous, I spoke quite fluently with the help of the note on the reminding card. I have done much better than I expected.


I hope I can continue this habit until my last day

Fri. 30th Nov., 1990. 20. Sunny

I've been thinking recently that we might be exempted (豁免) from writing journals as the term is approaching (去到) its end.

Examinations are coming and we need time to review. Besides, we've been writing journals every day since the begriming of October. We ought to have a break.

"What a great relief!" I would give a "Yeh" in my heart when that day comes.

So sad it was to hear Mrs Bond, our English lecturer, said yesterday that we have to keep on writing journals even during Christmas holidays!

Well, OK, I will do as I was told.

Very often achievements come under pressure. Here I have an immediate example: that is I have written 60 journals already.

Isn't it remarkable?

Hadn't there been pressure on me I wouldn't get this achievement. And at the same time I have surely improved my writing skills. If this is not the case, how could I get seventeen marks out of twenty in my music history term-paper?

Therefore I will keep on writing journals and I hope I can continue this habit until my last day.


<--To Journal Index.回到日記目錄~