Practical Advice for a Writer Going Shutdown-Insane

Including tips from Zhou Enlai.


A Guangzhou-based reader who has seen into my mind sends these thoughts:

You seem, to me, to be in desperate need of a way to reconcile two conflicting necessities, namely, your professional obligation to cover the present government shitstorm, and your clearly obvious desire to write about topics less depressing and about which you actually have a reasonable chance to  persuade a reader or two.  

(I don't presume to know how you reacted, but the "Shame on Democratic Bullies" response you posted would have caused me to seriously doubt the efficacy of any single person in a time of increasingly disconnected political realities.) 

So, may I suggest: China!  Continue your coverage of the Shutdown/ Default crisis from a perspective that may: interest readers, provide international context, not cause you to go insane.

Post titles include: 
    1. This Would Never Happen in China
    2. How Modern Media Guarantees the Abuse of the 1st Amendment (freedom of the press edition.)
    3. What the U.S. Can Learn from the Chinese Concept of 'Face'
    4. Why America Needs a Zhou Enlai (fight privately, present a united front)
    5. D.C. Shows Just How Implausible Chinese Democracy Is (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love CCP Autocracy)
    6. American Expats in China are Frequently Shamed by their Friends Because of Shutdown.

Sorry, that last one was for me.

Watch for these post titles soon.

On the other hand, I am about to go to a little brewpub in San Diego, so ... 

[Zhou-Nixon photo from here.]

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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