Mah Jong, Writing and Humor #amwriting #amediting #writing

The Chinese game of majiang (麻將), commonly ref...
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Mah Jong, Writing & Humor

     When I was a kid I would play Mah Jong with my east coast cousins for what seemed like hours and hours. I have many fond memories of those days. For those of you who don’t know what Mah Jong is, it’s a Chinese game, but instead of cards you use tiles. On the tiles are characters, bambos, dots, flowers, dragons and jokers.

     I found a group in town that plays two times a week. They play American Mah Jong, which is slightly different from what I played as a kid, but it’s just as fun. With four people a game usually lasts no longer than 20 minutes. That’s a short time to strategize, but learning to do so has its benefits.

     Now you may be wondering ‘How does Mah Jong apply to writing?’ I’ll get to that, but first you have to know little more. In American Mah Jong there is a game card and you pick your winning play from that card. The play you pick at the beginning often changes throughout the game as you continue to pick and discard your tiles and match them together. The tiles eventually tell you what moves you make. Sometimes it’s frustrating, sometimes it’s enthralling. No matter what you must have a sense of humor about it.

     Ok , so back to writing. Say, I pick a plot or a story idea, maybe even have a outline and the start of the first few chapters. But, as I write the characters will me to go another direction, or the conflict in the story needs to change, or I realize that what I had planned is just not going to work. The idea I started with is not necessarily what I end with. Like I said above, sometimes it’s frustrating, sometimes its enthralling. It’s best to have a sense of humor about your writing trials and tribulations.

     I know this might sound a little kooky, but playing Mah Jong has given me a new way to embrace those things which I cannot control with my writing and life in general.

What helps maintain your sanity? 

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. My main way to level out is with music, but in the last few weeks I’ve decided to go back to crochet. Okay, up front it sounds foolish.

    Been working on finishing my ghost story, it has taken me in so many new directions, I am amazed at the current version. Yet, there was something, almost intangible, I could not find. Somewhere between my single and double stiches, a scallop edge and a ruffled finish … it hit me. The nemisis, the bitch and the character I had ignored was in my face and like any good enemy, she showed me the ultimate direction to take my MC.

    The hands keeping busy, calms the mind and gives our thoughts a chance to find their center. Love the analogy to Mah Jong 🙂

    1. laradunning says:

      Sounds like you’ve found your writer’s sanity keeper. Sometimes its the minute things that keep everything together.

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