Why do I write, 2014 thoughts

Karcy had a very interesting question the other day. She asked on Facebook, why do the artists on her friends list create?

For me, the art of creation is what keeps me sane. Writing keeps me sane, keeps me alive, keeps me grounded, in a sense. Several years ago, after being out of a job for about 10 months, I began to work full time again. (My venture into freelance is something I’m still highly embarrassed about, mainly because it’s due to my own inadequacies, but that’s a topic for another day).

So when I started working again, I went into social media. It was what I was hired for, what my skillset then was good at. And in the business of it all, I neglected to write. As in write longform, stringing together words to make sentences to turn into essays. I began job-hopping. Then I finally ended up where I am working now, and still I didn’t write.

It took almost 18 months and the realisation I was slipping into depression before I began to take up the pen again. I could write, it seems during Nannowrimo, but I was afraid to write any other time. The sense of failure had resulted in fear, and I was truly afraid that I would fail again.

I tried all sorts of way to write. It wasn’t until this year, when I started submitting stories, that I really felt right about writing. It’s not an indulgent thing, to want to write because I want to. It’s not a matter of bragging about my skills. I’m not an imposter who’s lucky enough to string words together.

I write because I want to live.

And that’s all that matters.

Am I happy? (and yes, Chapters 2 coming soon!)

Am I happy?

A friend asked me what my goal was, and asked if I was happy.

I think I can answer this the same as I answered her then.

I am happy now. I’m not satisfied with all aspects of my life, but I’m happy where I am now. Career wise, friends wise. Perhaps even relationship wise. I’m happy being single. I’m being me, and for me, at this moment, it is adequate. I am learning to be comfortable in my own skin again. Learning to live for myself.

Still so much to improve. So many things to fix. So many goals to reach.

Life is a journey. At this point, I’m happy where my road is. I’m learning new things about myself every day (such as it takes me at least 2-3 false starts before I really get cracking on something) and that I’m horrible when I’m HANGRY. My body’s undergoing changes too, and it’s fitting the life I want to live.

So more good food, more exercise, and most importantly, more sleep. That’s one of the few aspects of my life that I can improve on right now, and which I intend to. With that, good night.

[750words] Story Ideas

Burning paper money, from Ching Bing
Burning paper money, from Ching Bing

The most intoxicating part of a writing project for me is usually the ideas process. This is also the part that tells me whether or not the book is ever going to be sold, because it shows how attached I am to the words I intend to put out.

I’ve had ideas sit in my head for years. Ideas that come and go within a few days or weeks. The difference between them is how intense these ideas are. Continue reading

Writing again

Of everything I have ever learned as a literary agent and as a writer, there is one lesson that I think is more important than any other: you must write for your life.- Holly McGhee, Nanowrimo 2013 Peptalk

Nobita reading a Doraemon comic, from the 100 Years Doraemon Exhibit in Kuala Lumpur
Nobita reading a Doraemon comic, from the 100 Years Doraemon Exhibit

When it comes to writing stories, I’m not the kind that plans. I’m the kind that researches what I need, rolls into what I think I want to happen, and then see if there’s a correlation between what I want to write and the culture I’m taking from. Which is how I usually end up with stories set in different cultures, in piecemeal settings that merely hint at the culture I’ve stolen borrowed from.

So yes, I’m pretty much a pantster, as we’re called in Nanowrimo. It brings to mind one of my favourite mantras, which is “Write Drunk, Edit Sober” (side note: Since I can’t actually consume alcohol, I tend to substitute this with cheap sugar and/or food that loosen my inhibitions. Friends who’ve seen me get “high” know what I mean. No weed involved).

Ever since the submissions for Women Destroy Science Fiction and Buku Fixi’s Lost in Putrajaya anthologies were announced, I’ve been hatching ideas and short stories to submit. None of them though, fit what I wanted to say.

Till, appropriately, the very last minute. I submitted the Science Fiction piece the night before, while Lost In Putrajaya’s was submitted MINUTES before the deadline. I fully expect LIP’s piece to be rejected (received the notice for SF’s piece some time ago) but it’s made me want to write more. To let go and just let the words flow, no matter if they were nonsensical or simply words.

I missed that.

Creative Whine

Then I have too many ideas for three submissions.
- Angels for Lost in Putrajaya
- Circles for Lost in Putrajaya
- Into Hiding for either Lost in Putrajaya or Steampunk
- Need to fix Shakti for Women Destroy Science Fiction!

100 posts, 100 Stories

Image by Ramunas Geciauskas on Flickr
Image by Ramunas Geciauskas on Flickr.

So Rincredulous sent me a link to a very interesting challenge. It was quite simply, 100 topics to write about when you hit a block. However, while chatting with her, she suggested I do both short story and themed blog post (the result of which you can read here) but that’s neither here nor there.

So if you’re wondering, here’s my chosen 100 topics, taken straight from the 100theme challenge on DA. I might add a short story to it, I might not. Or maybe a blog post. We shall see. Continue reading

One post a week?

And here I was naively thinking after Nano I’d be able to write more.

December’s here. Wow. Kinda hard to believe it’s finally here. This entire year feels a lot like a dream. So many things have happened. So many memories entangled within. I haven’t been writing much because the past two years have been… unusual.

I wanted to use the word crazy but it’s not really been crazy. It’s a lot like the wheel of fortune. A few good times here and there. Bad times to balance it. It kinda hurts, though, being here. Coming back from a world of grey.

The past few years have been like swimming in treacle. Or something sticky and almost fluid that doesn’t want to suck you in and freeze you like tar, but where it’s an effort. After a while, you start wondering what’s the point of it all.

The funny thing about running is that after a while, you keep going because… you just do. Your muscles keep going through the motions even though it hurts because stopping isn’t really an option. It feels a lot like that, the past few months. I keep going even though I can’t see the reason.

The will to live is strong.

In about 6 months, I’ll be turning thirty. I think I can kiss the possibility of having a child myself goodbye. It’s really hard to justify to myself why I should have a child when I often describe myself as one. I mean, I still have TWO milk teeth!

I tell better summaries than I do details, unless I get myself lost in the summary. So here’s a summary of my past two years; came back, got thrown in the deep end, found temporary joy, left my parents far enough that I’d have warning if they were coming to get me (see what I mean about details?), discovered new friends, held old ones, broke my heart, had my heart broken, forced into different roles with no warning, felt suicidal a few times, wrote a lot of words that didn’t matter, fell in love with a city, trained my mind somewhat, started learning to live in different stories, allowed myself to feel, allowed myself to mourn, allowed myself to just… feel.

I bleed. I laugh. I cry. I hug. I touch. I weep. I mourn. I smile.

Yeah, this is pretty much a whiny blog post. Why are you still here?

Oh yeah, cause this is a letter as much to strangers as it is to myself. We’ve been through a lot, you and I. Our bodies remember what our hearts and mind choose to forget. To forget means to deny ourselves. Our humanity.

Dying isn’t an option.

“We are more than what we be.

Each living thing carries within them that seed, to be more than what they are. The potential. As long as you are alive, you have this potential. We are our own universe. Even merely existing is enough. Because when we exist, then we can live.”

And really, what does it mean to really live? Is it to tell our grandkids stories? Is it to brag to each other?

Or is it to build memories, that when we go into that cold afterlife, there’ll be memories to keep us warm through the night?


Cities are full of humans. Like humans, they are complex. They are not soulless, colourless beings so often painted by artists and writers. They are colourful, bright, shiny things with dimensions rarely seen in nature.

Too often, we lament the emptiness of the city.

We call it cold and heartless. We liken it to a jungle, to nature, where the strong survive and the weak perish. We despair that the city drains our souls to leave an empty husk behind.

Too often, we forget, nature is a paradox. Where there is death, there is life. Where there are ends, there are beginnings. The circle of life changes, and yet remains the same.

A city is very much the same.

It is nature of a different sort. Humanity’s attempt to emulate a working, perfect system. Nature’s set up a series of systems that work well with each other. Compensates for deficiencies. Allows for deviation. Robust enough, to withstand whatever she throws at it.

We humans have not yet reached that standard. We have not discovered the way to make all the pieces fit. The compassion to allow each other to fail. The forgiveness that comes with mistakes. The release of fear that makes us fly.

The only thing we have perfected that we learnt from nature is how important it is to survive.

Pacific Rim: Thought bucket

What is a Kaiju image from Pacific Rim's Facebook page

I finally decided to watch Pacific Rim in IMAX on a whim yesterday. My initial reaction was one of absolute squee and enthusiasm; I’ve not been tossed into a world where I can suspend my disbelief and just simply watch a movie without my brain automatically engaging the analytics engine in a long time.

Besides the fact that it was IMAX and thus everything seemed real, Pacific Rim did a pretty damn good job of distracting me from the plot holes. Here’s the spoiler-free things you SHOULD know before you watch the movie:

  • Mako is a badass and everything is visual in this film. Pay attention to the way shots are composed, colours are used, and body language is emphasised.
  • The action distracts you. Really! If you grew up watching Ultraman and other monster series I did, the action here is fast, furious, and AWESOME! So distracting my brain didn’t have time to process it all.
  • As much as it pains me, I find it much easier to enjoy Pacific Rim than I did Star Trek. The latter had so many plot holes, I found myself enjoying it for no other reason than Benedict Cumberbatch and watching Spock get his ass handed to him by Uhura. Pacific Rim, on the other hand, was pure, unadulterated violence and bashing. They were unapologetic about it too.
  • Leave your brain at the door. Watch it in IMAX. Be prepared to squee. Also cute yaoi couples everywhere!

And this goes into spoiler territory: Continue reading


Updates, updates.

Well, as you can tell, I am alive. The first half of the year has come and is almost gone. There’s just a few more days left till June is gone, and with that, I will have to admit to myself that I will finally be hitting the mark that everyone says a woman is no longer delectable.

Yes, I will be hitting thirty next year.

Honestly, I find it quite amazing that I am even alive this long. I’m a little disappointed by the way my life has turned out, yet I’m surprised at the same time that I’ve come this far.

When I was 5, being 21 seemed like a long way to go. It felt like I was going to be ancient. Not ancient like Roman history, but ancient in the sense I was going to be on this Earth for that long. I never really quite had the long term view of things. It’s mostly all vague ideas and thoughts.

I ended up in writing mainly because as a kid it seemed to be something easy to do. When I was a kid, I thought I would be a nun or a nurse. I wanted to do something to help people. I grew up wanting to help people. It wasn’t enough to simply help though.

My family has a history of helping people. Depending on whom you listen to, the stories either warn us against helping those who weren’t part of the clan, or that sticking for your principles could lead to ruin.

In the family, my godfather is considered one of the straightest in the family. Straight in the sense that he would stand up for his principles. I know my grandmother and grandfather were alternately pleased and yet had a wry amusement about that. He is possibly the only person I know who was let go from his job two months in because he was such a straight and honest guy, he could not deal with the consequences (his job was a legal but ethically wrong kind of job). Some people have that temerity; he didn’t.

That was one of the stories I grew up with.

There’s a strong sense of ethical principle and morality in the family. Comes from being a Catholic, you see.

A Catholic, and I was sometimes impressed upon, from being a Malaysian Eurasian.

No lying, no stealing, no cheating.

There’s a reason why my grandmother was completely ok with her kids and grandkids doing any kind of job, as long as we were not used car salespeople or lawyers.

But I digress.

I remember very clearly my thoughts as a kid. I was lying in bed, looking up at the ceiling. I wondered if I would see my 21st birthday. I didn’t think I had much to look forward to. Age was literally just a number to me then.

So I lived in the moment.

Almost 25 years on, I find myself recalling that with incredible clarity. And I’m a little amused too.

If I had told myself at 5 that I would be a writer, that I would be writing for pleasure, and that I would read for pleasure, I would have looked at myself in surprise and laugh.

Actually no. I was a much more polite and brattier kid then. I’d have nodded my head and then went on to play. I’d then have told the story to anyone and everyone who would listen.

I still do that sometimes.

I found it very hard to believe that I would live to be 21, much less 30.

And if I did make it to thirty, I thought I would be married. I’d still be working, but I’d be married and have my own kids. And that my grandma would love to have played with my kids.

Funny how life turned out.