In my early twenties I’d imagined myself becoming a creative writer.  This notion was mainly expressed in a few unpublished short stories and poems, a number of rambling notes written on paper napkins and hitchhiking trips--a la the Beats--between New York and Mexico.  I’d also whipped through a host of jobs that might qualify as “valuable” experience for a writer—restaurant and nightclub waiter, caterer’s aide, industrial spy, taxi driver, hotel night clerk, and small-town, gambling casino operator.  The gaming experiences fulfilled my teenage fantasy of becoming a professional gambler.  While others read “The Great Gatsby,” “The Sound and the Fury” and “War and Peace,” my favorites were “Scarne on Dice,” and Herbert O. Yardley’s “Education of a Poker Player.”

But, as life would have it, my writing career actually began in a much less romantic way several years later at Fordham Law School where I was managing editor of the Fordham Law Review and learned to distinguish readable legal writing from legalese.  Indeed, most of my 30-year career as a Federal Government attorney--several years with the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department and the rest with the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO)—focused on legal writing of one kind or another. 
Much of my legal work kept me challenged and engaged, especially that involving trade relations between the United States and China, and United States membership in the World Trade Organization.  But I also spent considerable time writing fiction and poetry and attempting to become more proficient in Mandarin Chinese, which I’d begun studying at the age of 19.  Early on I had several short stories published in American literary magazines, and later took two leaves of absence from GAO to study Chinese literature in Taiwan and Hong Kong.  After I returned to the United States from Hong Kong, for several years I moonlighted as a free-lance Chinese to English translator and published translations of several novellas and short stories. 
I retired from GAO in 2005 intent on developing a writing career, but was uncertain of its direction or even which language to write in.  Initially I took the path of least resistance and wrote U.S.-China trade articles in English for Chinese and U.S. magazines and journals.  While writing trade articles was interesting and sometimes even paid, eventually my desire to do more creative writing proved stronger and I returned to writing fiction both in English and Chinese and editing earlier written poems.  Since then, I've published Chinese short stories in a Chinese newspaper and Shanghai literary journal.  I've also co-authored with my sister, CR Seldin-Bolinski, the collection of poems, "Pearls Beneath The Rind."  The book was published in December 2013.  My second book, a novel, "Below the Line in Beijing" was published in May 2015.

For many years, I've lived in the Washington, D.C. area with my wife, Sian.

1 comment: