Meet Your Instructor: Amy Tan

Amy Tan

Lesson time 06:02 min

Amy Tan, the bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club, welcomes you to her class by sharing what writing means to her and what she’ll be teaching you.

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 [MUSIC PLAYING, CRESCENDOING] AMY TAN: I grew up in a household that had no fiction books except for those that we took from the library, so I had this feeling that I hadn't read enough good books. I later became an English major, so I was able to catch up a little. And I fell in love with books, and I took a lot out of the library. What I'm saying here is if you want to be a good writer, read a lot of good books. A lot of people say I'm not really a writer. I've just started. If you are serious, you are a writer. And you're going to have this question-- what is the consciousness, the experiences, the narrative of your own life that is going to feed into the stories and make them yours? But eventually, if you keep at it and you have a seriousness of purpose, which is to understand yourself, human nature, the world, relationships, and the conflicts that make us infinitely interesting, you will find the stories that you want to tell. And you get to see how they play out in a world that you have created out of your consciousness. There are so many things you can understand and learn that make the writing meaningful. But more importantly, you understand what it is to be alive and to put that life into your story. I started writing fiction at the age of 33, and that is because I was so unhappy with my life. I was a business writer. So I was good at writing, and I knew that. I was a very practical person, and I knew I would never give up my job and consign myself to poverty as I learned how to write. You have to be responsible by understanding what reality is as a writer. And if you can say to yourself, I'm not going to make any money. I'm not going to have anything published for a while. But I am committed to learning this craft, and what stories are, and what I find interesting, you set yourself on that path. And when I knew I was on that path is that I wrote a story that took me by surprise. And I knew that it took me by surprise and it was meaningful because I started to cry. And I said to myself, I am going to do this the rest of my life. And I'm going to use my extra time to devote to fiction. And I had to do that. So I would write these stories. I went to a workshop. I signed up for a conference. I joined a writer's group. I started to get a story published in little magazines. That story led to something else. A reprint. And that reprint in 17 Magazine led to an agent who helped me secure a book deal for my first novel, "The Joy Luck Club." - Imagination and memory-- tools Amy Tan has mined since her hugely successful debut with the novel "The Joy Luck Club." - When I started writing "The Joy Luck Club," I was such a novice, there was so much I didn't know about writing, that I felt I needed to have guideposts that I would create and I would be able to follow. In this class, I'm not going to give you rules. I'm going to give you guideposts. I'm going to give you examples of things...

About the Instructor

Amy Tan was 33 before she first explored her voice as a fiction author. A few years later, her debut novel, The Joy Luck Club, spent 40 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Now she’s showing you her approach to the challenges and joy of self-discovery through writing. Learn how to craft compelling beginnings and endings, find your voice, and embrace your emotional memory to bring powerful narratives to life.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Amy Tan

The celebrated author shares her approach to voice, story, and the craft of bringing narratives to life from beginning to end.

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