A short while ago, after I had learned the words for story (故事）， novel (小说） and, of course, panda （熊猫），my Chinese teacher taught me the word for writer. Sure, an author is “作者” and a journalist is “记者” (a funny story to come on that), but what about a person aspiring to make a living as a writer, a practicing writer, a writer in progress. What exactly is WIP in Chinese?
And then, finally, after a homework assignment about the perils of learning a language, the word came: 爬格子, pronounced “pagezi” (not page-zi， but pah-ge-zi), which loosely translates to “climbing the check”.
Once upon a time, Chinese was written in vertical columns, top to bottom, instead along neat little rows left to right. Each character fit neatly into a box forming a kind of literary plaid, a checked pattern, if you will. And so aspiring writers were trying to climb the check (well technically it’s stepping down the check, but I’m told it’s to ascend it).
Here’s a blog about ascending the check. I’ll let you know if I reach the summit.