Top 99 Celeste Ng Quotes

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“If you see harassment happening, speak up. Being harassed is terrible; having bystanders pretend they don’t notice is infinitely worse.”

― Celeste Ng

“Growing up, I loved looking at the photos in my mother’s old Betty Crocker cookbook: the chocolate cakes, the cookie house, even the cheese balls and fondues.”

― Celeste Ng

“One of the most fun things for me, as a writer, is when readers ask questions like, ‘Oh, I noticed that you have a lot of water and baptism imagery in your book. Did you do that on purpose?’”

― Celeste Ng

“I think, in the United States, we talk about race as a black and white issue… We’re generally talking about it as if it’s a binary equation whereas, in fact, there’s more than two races and, in fact, those races blend together. There are a lot of different ways that people identify.”

― Celeste Ng

“One of the things I like so much about ‘Goodnight Moon’ is the way it leaves room for ambiguity.”

― Celeste Ng

“A love of reading shows empathy, the desire to understand how others live or act or might act – and why.”

― Celeste Ng

“It’s easy to feel helpless – like you can’t fight the tide. But remember: small actions can have a huge impact, and one person like you can inspire others to action.”

― Celeste Ng

“I wanted to write a book about people who have the best intentions and think – really, truly think – that they’re doing the right thing. And then they realize that when those ideals come knocking at their windowsill, a lot of times they will suddenly disavow those ideals.”

― Celeste Ng

“Narratively speaking, innocent misunderstandings are disappointing. Arbitrary events are also disappointing. The stories that really grab our attention involve not accidents but people doing things on purpose – to get things they desperately want.”

― Celeste Ng

“Spend enough time wrangling a toddler, and you get good at being kind but firm. Like your child, you must be doggedly single-minded when it matters.”

― Celeste Ng

“I was freelance proof-reading, freelance editing, creating illustrated slides for doctors’ presentations – just so I’d have enough money to take the time to write. That’s how I got by.”

― Celeste Ng

“Short of the dishonest, the illegal, and the cruel, there’s only one thing my son could do that would really disappoint me: not liking reading.”

― Celeste Ng

“For the first three years of his life, my son insisted on hearing ‘Goodnight Moon’ before bedtime. Like most babies, he was not a good sleeper by disposition – but reading seemed to help, and this book specifically became part of his whole wind-down ritual.”

― Celeste Ng

“Browse Amazon reviews, and you’ll see a surprising number of readers who believe one novel can summarize a country, its culture, and its people.”

― Celeste Ng

“Words are an imperfect medium for explaining.”

― Celeste Ng

“Reading feeds writing: it presents you with new ideas to engage with.”

― Celeste Ng

“I moved to Shaker Heights from Pittsburgh, PA, just before I turned 10.”

― Celeste Ng

“I was fortunate to have many teachers who encouraged me – one of the first was Dianne Derrick, my 5th grade teacher at Woodbury Elementary. She challenged us to write creatively and praised my work, but most importantly, she treated writing like it was important.”

― Celeste Ng

“I don’t think I know a single person who’s a minority who hasn’t experienced some form of discrimination at one time or another.”

― Celeste Ng

“Of course, as a kid, I had no idea what was practical: I wanted to be a paleontologist, then an astronaut.”

― Celeste Ng

“I began using the #smallacts hashtag on Twitter shortly after the 2016 election as a way to resist. To resist the intolerance growing in our nation, to resist an upcoming administration that I believe threatens to pull us backward and strip rights from those already marginalized.”

― Celeste Ng

“As the Trump administration takes office – and we see acts of racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination around the country – ask yourself, ‘What’s important to me? What do I care about? What have I benefitted from that I want to pay forward?’ Then look for ways to spread help and hope.”

― Celeste Ng

“Books by women, people of color, LGBTQ authors, differently abled people, and non-Americans are a great way of broadening horizons and building empathy.”

― Celeste Ng

“Local politics is just as important as national – and often easier to influence.”

― Celeste Ng

“In the case of ‘Everything I Never Told You,’ my goal was to make the experiences of a family that had always felt marginalised feel accessible and understandable even to people who’d never been in that situation.”

― Celeste Ng

“For me, any story I tackle begins with the human relationships and not the plot.”

― Celeste Ng

“There’s a great joy in writing about a place you know very well, but there’s also a lot of responsibility in trying to be accurate. It’s a lot like writing about a relative: you can see both their strengths and their shortcomings, and even as you want to be honest, you want people to see the good that’s there as well.”

― Celeste Ng

“I don’t think of myself as a mystery or thriller writer, honestly. I am in awe of mystery writers and don’t think I have what it takes to write such a book.”

― Celeste Ng

“I am a first-generation Chinese-American; my husband is white. We have a little boy, so I think a lot about what it’s like when people from different cultures and backgrounds start families, and how the world sees them. Most of my friends are in interracial relationships, and I just wonder what the world is going to look like for their children.”

― Celeste Ng

“My mother wrote a teen column for the South China Morning Post in the 1950s when she was growing up in Hong Kong. Her name was Lily Mark, but she sometimes wrote under her confirmation name, Margaret Mark. That was how she met my father.”

― Celeste Ng

“My parents came to America in the late 1960s because my father studied for a Ph.D. in Indiana. My mother joined him later. We had ancestors who came over at the turn of the century. One worked in a laundry, as is typical of Chinese-American immigrants.”

― Celeste Ng

“My parents did give me a lot of books – biographies of Marie Curie – and I did read them, because I was interested.”

― Celeste Ng

“I am not a contest-enterer by nature. But contests – and their entry fees – are often the main way literary journals raise money to, you know, publish their issues. So entering contests helps support the journal, which also helps support the writers they publish.”

― Celeste Ng

“Buying new books supports the writer by providing both a royalty and an audience; a writer whose book sells well has a better chance of selling another.”

― Celeste Ng

“Every writer needs new material now and then, whether it’s traveling to Japan, volunteering at a food bank, learning a new language, or trying a new food.”

― Celeste Ng

“A good poem is an amazing thing: a perfectly distilled, articulate moment. It opens you up – sometimes slowly, like the blooming of a flower, and sometimes with a quick knife-slice.”

― Celeste Ng

“Every single day, authors read at bookstores and libraries – and coffeeshops and bars – all over the country. And these readings are amazing: you get to hear the book in the author’s own voice, ask questions, and meet the writer. For free.”

― Celeste Ng

“What’s the best way to ensure a supply of good books in the future? Support up-and-coming writers now.”

― Celeste Ng

“I’m ashamed to admit that I very seldom read poetry, even though many of my friends are poets.”

― Celeste Ng

“Somewhere in the Commandments of Reviewing must be written, ‘Thou shalt not compare Asians to non-Asians.’”

― Celeste Ng

“If someone were to call me ‘the next Amy Tan,’ it would not be because – or not primarily because – we have similar themes or subjects or styles. Let’s be honest: it would be because we are both Chinese American.”

― Celeste Ng

“Comparing Asian writers mainly to other Asian writers implies that we’re all telling the same story – a disappointingly reductive view.”

― Celeste Ng

“Let’s stop reflexively comparing Chinese writers to Chinese writers, Indian writers to Indian writers, black writers to black writers. Let’s focus on the writing itself: the characters, the language, the narrative style.”

― Celeste Ng

“Gore isn’t required for a good story, but adversity is.”

― Celeste Ng

“Stories work better when not everyone gets what they want.”

― Celeste Ng

“I play music on my phone to fall asleep when I’m on the road and as an alarm clock to wake me up, so I need it nearby – but there are never outlets by the bed in hotels!”

― Celeste Ng

“I keep a writer’s notebook and also put all my daily schedules and to-do lists in it.”

― Celeste Ng

“I lose pens a lot, so I don’t use fancy ones.”

― Celeste Ng

“Whenever I travel, I seem to get sick – it’s probably inevitable when you’re on a plane every single day.”

― Celeste Ng

“The first bookstore I loved wasn’t a little independent gem nestled in a neighborhood: it was a modest Waldenbooks in our local shopping mall.”

― Celeste Ng

“My parents used books as bribes: if I got straight A’s on my report card, they would buy me one book. This was completely unnecessary, as I always got A’s, and they bought me books all the time anyway, and we all knew it.”

― Celeste Ng

“Now that I have a child of my own, I’m in awe of – and deeply grateful for – the time my parents spent in taking me to bookstores.”

― Celeste Ng

“I resisted Twitter for a long time. To me, it was synonymous with networking, which in my mind means unceasing self-promotion and superficial small-talk with strangers. A little like wading into a river with a raging current – and I’m a terrible swimmer.”

― Celeste Ng

“It’s so easy, as a writer, to get stuck in your own head, to live in the little worlds you create. To forget that there are people out there reading your work, people who may be deeply affected by what you do, that you are writing not just for yourself, but for them.”

― Celeste Ng

“In 2011, I didn’t read a single book.”

― Celeste Ng

“Spend too much time alone with your own words, and your writing grows anemic, in dire need of a transfusion.”

― Celeste Ng

“As a historically voracious reader – pre-baby, I averaged a book every week or two, and when I was a kid, I’d routinely read a book a day – I never understood how some people could not read. When I heard people say they didn’t have time to read, in my head, I simultaneously pitied and ridiculed them: there was always time to read.”

― Celeste Ng

“My husband’s parents were both English teachers for decades.”

― Celeste Ng

“Before my son was even born, he already had two shelves of books.”

― Celeste Ng

“Even if Pearl S. Buck hadn’t spent most of her life in China, she’d have every right to write about it.”

― Celeste Ng

“Can fiction teach us? Absolutely. Fiction has the power to illustrate place, era, and atmosphere in vivid detail. But it is not Anthropology for Dummies.”

― Celeste Ng

“When reading fiction, we cannot automatically assume that what we read is fact.”

― Celeste Ng

“Short fiction and the novel, nonfiction and fiction, electronic texts and books – these are not opposites. One need not destroy the other to survive.”

― Celeste Ng

“The competitions between fiction and nonfiction, short and long, electronic and paper, are not battles in which there can be only one victor. After all, we exist in a world where more kinds of writing than ever are greeted with interest and enthusiasm.”

― Celeste Ng

“You may not be a fan of Twitter-fiction. That’s okay. There are novels out there for you – big ones.”

― Celeste Ng

“The proliferation of styles, genres, and media need not be the death knell of anything. Instead, it’s a sign that our acceptance for variation and experimentation has become wider, our interests have become more diverse, and our appetites have become more omnivorous.”

― Celeste Ng

“My mother is deeply pragmatic by nature. Perhaps you had to be, as an immigrant. You made do.”

― Celeste Ng

“When my father finished his Ph.D., my mother went back for another bachelor’s degree, this time in environmental science.”

― Celeste Ng

“My mother ended up getting a Ph.D. of her own, in chemistry, and eventually became a tenured professor.”

― Celeste Ng

“Writing is like shouting into the world. So when someone shouts back, it’s a really big deal. To have people who read hundreds and hundreds of books a year say, ‘Hey, we thought this was really great,’ that’s a huge self-esteem boost.”

― Celeste Ng

“Writers, most of them, don’t have a lot of resources.”

― Celeste Ng

“I did a lot of weird jobs, like most writers do.”

― Celeste Ng

“There’s this sense that whiteness is the default and does not need to be questioned. That you’ve got a race if you’re black, or any kind of Asian, or any kind of Native American, but that you have no race if you are white.”

― Celeste Ng

“My husband really treats my writing like it’s a job – and he reminds me of that when I have those low moments where I think I should just quit and become a waitress.”

― Celeste Ng

“Writing, for me, is an extension of thinking – it’s my way of processing, and only when I’ve gotten something down on the page have I thought through it fully.”

― Celeste Ng

“It’s incredibly rewarding to have people come up to me at readings and say, ‘I’m not Chinese, but this is the relationship I have with my mother.’ Or say, ‘Your book made me think a lot about my parents, and I’ve decided to sign up for counseling.’ That is mind-boggling.”

― Celeste Ng

“With the first novel, I had to tell myself, ‘No one is ever going to read it, so you might as well just write it.’ With the second, I was pretty sure someone was going to read it.”

― Celeste Ng

“With the first novel, I was concerned I would be pigeon-holed as an Asian-American writer, and the book would be labeled for Asian-Americans only.”

― Celeste Ng

“I wrote ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ and sold the book in 2015, still the Obama years. The possibility of a Trump presidency was not on my radar.”

― Celeste Ng

“Debut novels are difficult because nobody knows you… they just don’t find a huge audience, because that’s how the market works.”

― Celeste Ng

“I loved growing up in Shaker Heights, and I really miss it.”

― Celeste Ng

“I really wanted to be a poet – until I realized that I really didn’t have what it took to be a poet.”

― Celeste Ng

“I’m very much a people pleaser, and the first book had such a devoted and loving following.”

― Celeste Ng

“I think one of the reasons that I like fiction versus nonfiction is that I myself can kind of disappear from the story.”

― Celeste Ng

“What you look for as a reader is somebody who is going to take you and say, ‘C’mon. Come into the story. I’m going to show you what there is to see.’ The guide who is going to tell you, ‘Pay attention over there,’ or, ‘Do you remember that other thing? Now watch!’”

― Celeste Ng

“No reader wants to sit through the same scene four times in a row, unless they’re radically different.”

― Celeste Ng

“I’m really interested in how we understand each other – and whether we can understand each other.”

― Celeste Ng

“We have to figure out why we see the world in different ways and then how are we going to adjust so that we can at least still understand each other.”

― Celeste Ng

“In my own work, when I start off writing a scene, I don’t know which physical details are going to turn out to be meaningful. But, inevitably, certain images will stand out – you start to decide which ones are important as you go.”

― Celeste Ng

“I have a bad habit of reading more than one book simultaneously!”

― Celeste Ng

“Taste is idiosyncratic, so I don’t love everything people recommend me, and I don’t love everything my friends love.”

― Celeste Ng

“I’m fascinated by the ways people under repressive regimes still manage to share information – and joy.”

― Celeste Ng

“Rebecca Solnit is a clarion voice of reason.”

― Celeste Ng

“What I remember about race relations in the 1990s is that you showed your awareness by saying you didn’t see race, that you were colour-blind.”

― Celeste Ng

“As soon as I could write, I was writing stories.”

― Celeste Ng

“In fiction you’re not often writing about the typical; you are interested in outliers, the points of interest. Part of it comes from feeling I was the only Asian or person of colour… another part comes from my personality: I’m an introvert, and my usual survival mode in a large group is to stand by a wall and watch everybody.”

― Celeste Ng

“I have an interest in the outsider.”

― Celeste Ng

“Honestly, if anyone reads my work, they’re doing me a favor, so they get to use whatever words they want to describe it. I can’t control that, nor if they like the work, so best not to even try.”

― Celeste Ng

“I think I’m good at metaphors and descriptions. Plot doesn’t come naturally to me, so I work really hard at it.”

― Celeste Ng
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