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A life dedicated to writing

By Ma Lie and Huo Yan | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-01 08:09

A life dedicated to writing

Li Jian (second from right) and his fellow workers have a break at a construction site in Xi'an. [Photo by Deng Xiaowei/China Daily]

There are no decorations on the bare redbrick walls and no heating, while the only artificial light comes from a lamp hanging from the ceiling.

"The landlord is very good to me and, in order to facilitate my writing, he gave me a big, bright bulb to replace the small one I had before," Li said.

"Although I only paid for one bed in the room, the landlord also arranged for no one else to share the room with me."

Li occupies two beds in the room, one for sleeping and another he uses as a makeshift desk on which he keeps his sundries. The other two beds are empty.

The landlord, surnamed Zhao, said he had been deeply moved by Li's dedication to his writing and the fact that he had no bad habits such as smoking, excessive drinking or gambling.

"Li has persisted in his writing during his spare time for the whole 10 years he has been staying in my house," Zhao said.

One of Li's fellow workers, surnamed Wu, said Li was cheerful, never complains, and always gets on well with his colleagues, but never takes part in their extracurricular activities and spends all his leisure time writing.

Li's real problem, however, is finding the money to publish his work.

"I have a monthly salary of 2,000 yuan, 150 yuan of which goes on renting the bed, 20 yuan for two meals a day, and I have to send the rest of the money back home to support my family," he said.

His first two books have been printed, but only in limited numbers and not outside his own village.

"I was told that I need 3,000 to 4,000 yuan to apply for publishing and the total cost of publishing a book would be more than 30,000 yuan, which I cannot afford," Li said.

"I wish I could send my poetry to the poor, to let them know the hardships felt by us migrant workers, and to the rich, to let them know that we migrant workers are cultured and hard working."

Contact the writers at

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