◎ Bing Xin
Perhaps due to my failing energies, not only have I refrained from writing anything long, but also, in reading a magazine, for example, I usually finish its shorter pieces of writing first, be they fiction, prose or any other forms of literature, before going on to the longer ones.
I always believe that anything written with an irresistible inner urge to unbosom oneself must be full of genuine feelings. On the contrary, if one writes simply for the sake of writing — say, to humour one’s editor-friends, or worse still, to earn more remuneration, one will most probably make his writings unnecessarily long until they become, despite what little feelings they may contain, inflated and wishy-washy.
When true emotions aroused by a person, an event or a scene come upon you like a pin pricking your heart or an angry tide surging threateningly before you, all you can do is use the most vivid and succinct language to describe the severe pain in your heart or the momentary feeling of panic caused by the angry tide.
Our great motherland is known for its literary tradition of short essays. Do you find anything unduely long in A Treasury of Best Ancient Chinese Prose with its 220 essays selected from a period of several thousand years in ancient China from the Eastern Zhou Dynasty down until the end of the Ming Dynasty? Aren’t the essays in it, like Du Mu’s Rhapsody on Epang Palace and Han Yu’s An Elegiac Address to My Nephew Shi’erlang, all short and yet full of true feelings? Isn’t A Collection of Random Thoughts by Ba Jin, our contemporary, another like example of pithy writing?