Friday, December 07, 2007

I Am Writer

And with this, I have saved myself from having the unsavory record of least amount of posts in a year since 2004 (the debut year). This is number 30. And it seems that’s how far that’ll go this year since 2006 of 59 posts and 2005 of 74 posts are definitely out of reach.

Nevertheless, on this occasion let us welcome the final month of 2007 graciously. For another year has come full circle. For many of you, I’m sure, much was to be cherished for the past 12 months. But for me, it has been quite a difficult year. It was the year I got fired. The year that marked the Secret Recipe incident. On the receiving end of multiple threats and almost got myself beaten up by a man twice my size. The woman I have been secretly admiring for years has decided to share her love with another man. Chelsea lost the title to Man Utd and my phone is beginning to shed its skin. For what it’s worth, it has truly been a depressing and weird year for me.

However rather than moping around on why things has gone awkwardly wrong and prancing on stage in your underwear like Britney Spears as a stress release activity, I am determined to make the most of what is left of 2007. I want to end the year in a bang. The question of whether I may or may not succeed is immaterial as I’ll sure as hell give it a try.

Luckily such opportunity did arrive to me in The Star newspaper a few weeks ago. In the Reads Monthly section, MPH, the popular bookstore, has made an open invitation to all local writers out there to submit their short stories to them to be compiled in one of two anthologies to be published by them. One of it will be titled Chinese Stories, a theme about Chinese life in Malaysia, Singapore and elsewhere, which I guess falls a bit off my knowledge. But the second anthology, tentatively entitled KL Stories: Urban Odysseys, “will focus on life in the city, specifically in Kuala Lumpur, with works that show images of the new juxtaposed against the old, urban living with contrasting bright lights and shadowy realities and other short fiction or creative non-fiction that best encapsulate the spirit of the national capital.” And that one, has got me buzzing.

For weeks now I have been cramming myself with ideas about what to write for my so-called novel and so far nothing has materialized. I couldn’t even come up with a rough idea. And it’s beginning to get very annoying. But this MPH invitation has come at the most perfect time. All I need to do now is to write a story about 3000 to 5000 words in length and an express route to get published. Published, I say! It’s like asking a Sunday league player would he like to play in the Champions League. Well, fucking yes! It’ll be like American Idol but without the SMSs and Paula Abdul. I have never been so giddy about anything since a very long time. And now with a specified scope I could focus better in terms of researching for ideas. And in order to do this right, since the deadline is the end of January, I decided to look up at some similar works already available out there. Namely the Silverfish books.

Silverfish is an independent bookshop that focuses on such themes. “Malaysiana” as they call it. Their store is in Bangsar but you can get their books from Times bookstores as well. At Suria KLCC, for instance, opposite Tower Records.

Currently, they have a popular series in circulation called New Writing which has so far churned out 6 versions. These too are anthologies from new writers (hence the name, although some have already publication credits to their names (greedy bastards)) from Malaysia, Singapore and beyond. I’m guessing this is what MPH is trying to come up as well. So, where better else to look for inspiration other than this New Writing series? Fortunately, I have a friend who is a Silverfish fan so that saved me from spending on a whole new book just for reference purposes. So I went to see Cipoi the other day and he has New Writing 2 which has got me excited at the mere sight of it but he warned me that he has found it to be disappointing but more on that later. And sadly, that was the only Silverfish book he had at the time. He couldn’t locate the rest. Misplaced somewhere. To make it up, he lent me two Karim Raslan books. ‘Who’s Karim Raslan?’ I asked the moment Cerita-lah was dropped into my hands. And I got a look as if I just asked who is the Queen of England. Apparently this Karim guy is suppose to be very good. I haven’t started on any of his books yet but after a quick scan, I caught glimpses of his brilliant writing. But that review will have to wait for the time being. I do have, however, started on New Writing 2 and I’m afraid to say that Cipoi is right after all. Technically, it was well written. The words, the plot construction, character development, mood but, for fuck’s sake, why so depressing? I have read maybe 10 stories so far and probably 7 out of them involve death. A character just had to die. Most of the time the leading one. Why? Why the morbid theme? And when they say ‘stories from Malaysia, Singapore and beyond’, I naturally expected to read stories mostly from Malaysia, quite a few from Singapore and maybe one or two from ‘beyond’ or wherever the hell that is after starting reading this. Instead it is the other way around. A few bits and pieces from Malaysia. A few more from Singapore and mostly from Australians, Americans and English living here or hereabouts. Either that or from Malaysian born but currently living abroad. One story is about a high school boy who played a memorable basketball game one night and later went out on a date in his dad’s Thunderbird. Unless it’s a Nissan it definitely has no Malaysian flavor at all. It’s not even Asian! Disappointing will be the least of my worries. Heartbreaking is more like it. But, still, I have quite a way to go and hopefully they save some of the best for last. Maybe Karim Raslan’s work will cheer me up later but therein also lie the problem. His writing will consist of one theme one style. That’s why I was so looking forward to New Writing for the different styles and views it offers in its pages. And the disappointing outcome was the last thing I expected. However in hindsight, it does give me the impression that local writers (phbtt! local!) tend to focus on sad and depressing issues because, I’m guessing, it allows them to be more poetic and dramatic. And isn’t that ironically sad? And with that they are neglecting the more jovial and light-hearted writing which I now intend even more to portray in my submission. Isn’t it better to spread joy and happiness rather than death and suffering? What a weird lot these writers are.

Anyway, right now, this is what we have - ‘KL Stories’ preferably with a touch of humour. So far, that’s how much I’ve got. As much as I’d like to be as selfish as I can, I will not refuse voluntary assistance. You can never set boundaries on creativity. So, if you’d like to help me become famous and receive no monetary incentives whatsoever, lend in a few ideas of stories you would like to read about. And I’ll do what I can to tailor it the best way possible that I know. But, please, no mat rempit stories. And no drug addicts for that either. Such a common theme, everyone else will go for it, I’m sure of it. Unless, it’s a story about a successful yet ganja-smoking friend who happen to have a kinky taste in women. That could have some potential.

Anyway, it looks like it’s going to be a rough ride in the next coming months. Taking into consideration my MBAs is beginning to take strides with the projects and the mid-terms looming. And also, very importantly, the matter of a certain Ilyana. This is what you do when you have your heart broken. You move on and find something new to be obsessed with. Believe me, the transition can be quite exhilarating. It’s the in between that tends to get fucked up sometimes. But we’re not going to talk about Ilyana here. Someone like her deserves a post of her own.

This is me, a blogger aspiring to be a published writer. And with that, chee-yers!