On finishing a short story…

Keyboard (closeup), red key with heart
Keyboard image by be2blog_es on Flickr.com

26 hours…?

Well, somewhere there.

It’s roughly the amount of time I took to submit my story to the Commonwealth Short Story competition this year. Last year it took me about 2 weeks from start to finish. I am not confident of winning, but this time it’s not about the prize.

It’s simply about the inspiration.

I actually had another story that I wanted to write and submit, but I kept hitting walls with that story. The concept, I think was great, but the fleshing out bits.. not so much. 300 words in, aka after the initial burst, it’s dead. I will probably revisit in the future, but for now, it stays where it is.

This new story though, I’m sort of satisfied with it. It’s a neat little package, and apparently I manage to scare a few people with it. That’s an achievement I didn’t expect.

It wasn’t easy though. Because in this story I confronted ghosts. Things in the past that I’d never had the courage to admit I questioned. Denying a piece of myself, if you will.

It’s strangely heady, this process I went through. Bitter. Raw. And not unlike drinking. I had to take breaks during the actual writing process because my heart was beating too fast.

Thankfully, I didn’t end with a hangover. Though I do wonder if I made the right choice to submit that story. It might have done better in a Malaysian context, but oh well. What’s done is done.

It’d be great to win this, but we shall see.

[Nanowrimo] Bloodsworn Synopsis

25

This being a synopsis of this year’s Nanovel. Yes, I know it’s a poem rather than an actual synopsis, but this is all I have so far. Let’s hope drafting goes better this year than it did last year.

Secrets unopened
Secrets revealed
Secrets hidden
Secrets unspoken

Blood that binds us all
Blood that holds us all
Blood unquenched
Blood unspilled
In innocence, purify
In sin, destroy.

Tis the end of our journey
Tis the end of our song
Tis a chapter closed
Forgive us all our wrongs.

[Prose-ACK!] WIN FREE BOOKS And Support #MYWriters!

#MYWriters Book Session at Supermart Pop, Publika

Psst! Prose-ACK will be at the Supermart Pop in Publika offering autographed copies of Chap Fan for sale. Depending on space allocations, we may also offer on-the-spot commissions, done on a typewriter! Come one, come all, this 3rd October!

This is part of the month-long #MYWriters Festival. Check out the details below:

Looking for new things to read? Grab some new books and meet the authors behind them this entire October! The #MYWriters Group will be organising a month-long Meet-The-Authors Festival happening in various places around KL and Penang. If you attend at least 3 of our events, you might even get to take home an entirely new shelf of books (shelf not provided)!

Simply pick up a bookmark at our events, and bring it along for a “check-in” stamp at subsequent locations when you attend. To be eligible, you will need at least 3 stamps AND attend the Finale at Dataran KL Underground.

Visit the MYWriters site for more information and locations.

See you there!

[Event] MPH Writer’s Circle: Get Published!

So, last week I attended the MPH Writer’s Circle (held on a weekend for once!) at Nu Sentral. The topic was fairly interesting, but I went there mainly because they apparently had a pitching session, which I did not join in the end. Everyone on the panel were published authors, with different backgrounds and specialities.

They were, in no particular order:

  • Oon Yeoh – Senior Consulting Editor of MPH Group Publishing
  • Marina Mustafa – Cookbook author
  • Jojo Struys – Health book author and guided relaxation advocate
  • Khaw Choon Ean aka Teoh Choon Ean – novelist and illustrator, former gymnast and coach
  • Anuar Shah – Fixi Novelist, property lawyer and speaker
  • Umie Nadzimah – Bestselling author (Dia Isteri Luar Biasa, Cinta Paling Agung, & Kerana Terpaksa Aku Relakan which have been turned into TV Dramas)

  • Information provided by MPH’s FB page when I asked nicely, heh

For most part, I kind of expected the questions and responses they would give. What I did not expect was the brutal honesty. Some takeaways:

  1. Science Fiction doesn’t sell in Malaysia
    Sad, but honest. There’s not much of a market for sci-fi in Malaysia. Same with fantasy. If you’re a Malaysian English writer in these genres, chances are you’d never be able to sell, if only because we already have international authors in the market. You may have a chance with the Malay market, but for English, best to go overseas first.

  2. Just do it!
    Have an idea? Pitch it to the publishers. If you’re writing non-fiction at least. Anuar’s 40 Questions to ask your lawyer before purchasing a residential property was pitched at a general book event like the one I attended, and he was asked to write it. People like Umie started writing and building their audiences slowly on places like Karyaseni (think Wattpad but specific to a publisher) before getting picked up.

  3. Most surprising thing learnt about publishing?
    That the money they make is tiny (yes, this is something I’ve heard as well). Which leads to my next point:

  4. Don’t expect to make (much) money as a writer in Malaysia
    All of them are still holding day jobs. This is where I say it’s half and half. You CAN make money writing (copywriting ahoy!) but don’t expect it to be like the States where you can make money writing books full time. Most people everywhere don’t anyway. ^^l

  5. Books are good to advertise your skills
    From what I understood, writing a book both sort of paints you as an expert in the Malaysian market. In terms of writing language, local non-fiction English books do well, but for fiction the Malay market is more lucrative. Most, like Anuar, use their written books to support their main businesses.

And that’s about it. For me, it was both depressing and yet reassuring to hear about the issues in publishing. I was glad I went though, met up with a few other writers. Now back to the grindstone for me!

Here’s my tweets from last week, in one handy reply for you.

Procrastinating (aka I’m alive!)

It was a dark and stormy night
Or at the very least, a noisy one
So sat the writer at her desk
Procrastinating, as she does.

Fingers energetic
Mind procrastinating
Pick up the pen
Pick up the quill
And let the characters live again

It is hard to write when there’s distractions
Harder still to write when the background’s white
So back to Q10 I go
I will miss this when Windows 10 Launches

Learning to write again. I have learnt a few things since buying this computer:

  1. Not having Q10 or any sort of minimal writing editor actually is quite a bummer. And I really end up procrastinating more than I should
  2. I haven’t gamed in a while. My phone distracts me on the bed
  3. Losing my train of thought is very easy nowadays