There’s a story in every moment

You can sit on a plane or at a (boring) meeting and there may be a story lying in wait. All you have to do is turn, smile and talk to those around you. Every one has a story, has a phrase that sticks, has a tale to tell and places they’ve been. All you need to do is turn, smile and start talking. Do not be afraid to strike up a conversation with the ones near you. And above all, after asking, listen to what they have to tell and take note. You never know when that phrase would seem appropriate when you are writing conversation or laying down a plot.

There’s a story in every moment.

Too many times we try too hard to fomulate a great story. We labour over ideas that HAVE to be spectacular, mind blowing and out of this world. We fashion large words and create outlandish worlds to plant our single dimensional characters.

But stop and talk to those you meet on the bus or a plane or sitting at a coffee shop and you’ll gain a wealth of stories. Real stories with real people, living real lives with real problems and moving in real time. You then take on the role of scribe and thus, chronicle the lives of everyday people. It doesn’t have to be outlandish or spectacular, just honest and true.

Try it. talk to someone and listen to the story, yet untold.

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The Reclusive Writer

I am quick to admit that I am a very reclusive person. By nature I am painfully private about things in my life. There was a period in my life where I sought to fit in but that was as successful as trying to drown fish in water. I have since come back home to being the recluse that I am. Yet in being reclusive, intoxicated in my own reality, I find the well-spring of creativity. I imagine the lives of other people. Living and breathing the air of the characters that populate the world of my mind. It is a world undisturbed by the harsh reality of this world.

There is nothing bad about being shy about yourself. In looking myself, I realized that I have a lot of acquittances yet only a handful of close friends. People with whom I can be vulnerable with and comfortable to share my thoughts and ideas.

Yet it is in my own quiet retreat, I am able to write and spin the tales that flash within my head. I put on my beenie, wake up my iBook and type away. Some stories go unfinished, some take flight yet others remain empty pages waiting for another visit.

I sometimes shun writer gatherings for the very reason, I prefer to write alone. I am not saying writer groups are bad. No. By all means join one if you feel it would help your craft. All I am saying is, it may not work for me. I enjoy writing alone. In the comfort of my own thoughts and the quietness of my own space. Do what is best to express your craft. Don’t compromise on what makes you a writer.

If you are a reclusive writer like me, don’t worry. You are in good company.

Depression and this Writer

I never thought I would fall into this state of mind but it happened. I was depressed and this was the reason I had turned cold towards my writing. I did not know it was depression and instead blamed other factors such as work, commitments and people as the reason to why I couldn’t sit down long enough to write a sentence. Yes, within the period of depressive foggy-ness, I did managed to churn out several short stories (most appearing on this blog) but my main project merely sat on the sideline.

Depression hits for no reason and your mind just fogs over and your motivation to do the things you love just evaporates, leaving you with this perpetual sense of emptiness. In the end, you feel as if you are merely a shell and life has ebbed it’s way to the twilight zone. Nothing seems right, you become sensitive and needy. Needy for attention or someone to understand but you full well know no-one can fully understand the state of mind of a depressive person. My mind and heart were locked in a bind of negativity. Nothing seemed positive and optimism became a curse word.

There were evenings I spent walking in my backyard, devoid of thoughts and merely walking. I viewed things with an emptiness, a detachment from what was real or fantasy. In this state, plants looked alive and the world just seemed a shade of gray. It was bad.

Yet, I knew all this and I am glad I had friends I could just talk to. People I could open up to and vent. And I also had my writing. I realized the most passionate of my writings were done when I was in this state of clawing myself out of my emotional black-hole. The stories were real and the emotions raw. Sometimes our very weakness is the source of our greatest strength. Our insanity is the root of our creativity, the source of the logic for which we write about and our readers get transported to.

In my depression, I wrote about the need for love, the strength of hope and the desperation of one who has reached their end. Maybe it’s good for me to walk in that dark alley called depression, if only to gain the stories but not to dwell in it.

Am I out of my depression? I don’t know because its a part of me, yet I know I can keep it in check and continue to write with passion due to it.

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My short depressive state of mind

I’m going through a bout of depression. Just feeling “blue” over some incidences that happened last week. But it has given me cause to read up on the whole matter of Depression and it really is an interesting subject. I can clearly see why so many people with chronic depression choose to commit suicide. It is a really bad state of mind to be in. I realized, I’ve learnt to cope with this trait of mine in my late teens so I am able to function better now as an adult.

I think it was due to the fact I changed my thinking pattern and embarked on a quest for self-discovery at the age of 18. I came across Edward d Bono’s book – Lateral Thinking and it changed the way I thought about things. This coupled with the fact I took up meditating on Bible verses could have been the reason for my ability to cope with depression.

Being depress is not a good thing and no-one can really understand how it is, unless you are also a sufferer. For me things just become very slow and mundane. I do not enjoy doing the things I like and I end up sitting in a chair pondering or sleeping. I have since learnt to slow down my thoughts and to enjoy the simple things in life. To not take everything seriously and to know that life is worth living. Depression robs you of the joy for living and creates an unrealistic world where nothing is right and everything is wrong.

Yet, in this state of gray paint; I have found emotions to write. I find it easy to write about someone down on his luck and about living for hope or someone entertaining the thought of suicide. These emotions and thoughts are real to me and I merely chronicle them down onto paper for an audience to read. It can be said that my depressive state of mind is also the well spring from which my inspiration flows from.

My insanity is the cradle of my creativity.

So folks, our (perceived) weaknesses may in fact be our greatest strength as long as we learn to harness it to its full potential and shape it into the form for which we like. There is nothing wrong in being depressive as long as you can turn it into the reason why you love life with full zest.

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Talent is crucial to good writing…sorry PERFECT writing.

I’ve met a lot of people who have express their desires to write. Their eyes light up when I tell them I write in my spare time, have a book out and regularly get my articles published on online newspapers and political opinionated websites in Malaysia. Glossy eye and spunky about the idea that people would read their writings they pursue the road I took. But not all roads are meant to be travelled by a bandwagon of wannabe writers.

My path to writing is unique to me. For everyday I spend writing, I had several years of practice. I did not get here by mere chance. I had to sweat it out and develop my own style and voice. I took to blogging in 2003 to better my writing skills. I needed to learn how to connect with an audience, write in words that inspire and move people and what better way than through blogging. From there I joined a writing group and practiced my writing there. I’ve written a short play and it was produced during my college days, written some really bad songs that are only worthy for my shower, poetry has been a dabble of mine since school days and only in the last two years have I seriously written short stories and full length features.

It took time and that is something all writers (good writers) have to go through. It takes time to polish one’s skills. There’s no shortcuts to being a good writer but if you want to be a PERFECT writer than you need Talent.

Let me say this over and over again. You need Talent to begin with. Some have it, some may not and this means not everyone is cut out to be a writer. Yes, you may have good writing skills but are you a storyteller? Can you capture the attention of an audience?

I learnt the traits of capturing the attention of the audience in my college days when I was part of the theatre group. I took to the stage and was a natural at it. From there I move on to writing for stage and essentially that’s where I learnt my strong point when it comes to writing stories – dialogue. The scene plays in my head like a play and I’m the omnipresent observer jotting down the details that I see. That’s my Talent. This is why I can write.

I met this wannabe writer who wrote a management book and he wanted to branch out into fiction. I read his draft and I told him to stick to writing management books. And he had the knack to tell me he lack creativity. How can you write fiction without being creative?

Talent is inherent in all writers. They write because that is the only thing they can do. We write because the moment you put a pen/keyboard before us, we start fidgeting and all rile up. We want to express ourselves, we want to tell the world what we see in our minds eye. We are picky about words and sentences and prose and how someone would say something. We listen in on conversations at coffee shops and watch people go about life, taking notes of what’s going on. We are loners and thinkers and philosophers and emotional wrecks (after a good movie) and all the while we want to write it down.

Talent is crucial to PERFECT writing. You either have it or not. I hate to bust your bubble but clearly, if your friends tell you your writing is like S*#T then please take up another hobby. Fishing or kite flying or planting roses. Anything else except writing a novel and thinking you’ll make a million out of it. Honestly, I don;t write for the money. I write because all my life I knew I would write and I just want people to hear what I have to say.

Have a reality check and ask yourself whether you’ve got TALENT to write.

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The 3 things I hate about being a writer

I took a long time to get back into my writing groove. My 2nd book is way behind schedule, in fact there is no exact schedule for me to follow anymore. It went out the window sometime in March. Vacations, work and personal issues have grounded my writing momentum. So picking up the pace (so to speak) is akin to scaling Mount Everest on stilts.

So what do I hate about being a writer? As fulfilling as it is, there are somethings that make me wonder, why I ever bother writing a book? There’s no turning back on my 2nd book, I’ve written 21 chapters and there is no way I will throw that in the waste-basket or in today’s world relegate it to the hidden folder on my iBook.

Number 1: Writing is emotional.
You want your readers to feel what your characters are feeling. Right? So imagine writing a scene where your two characters are falling in love and you’ve just spent the evening chasing after your kids and wifey has a bone to pick with you over junior’s school work. So in the end, your characters actually end up arguing and the plot just goes down hill from there. You blink hard and try to imagine the beauty of the scene when all you see is wifey’s face holding up junior’s homework.

Being in the right mood and right frame of mind is so hard…even in writing.

Number 2: How do you describe that?
Someone told me that my writing lack descriptive elements. My style is minimal, straight to the point and often times devoid of description. So shoot me! But there are times I want to describe the scene. “Show but don’t tell”. We hear that a lot but there are times when you hit a wall and you just wonder, “How do you describe that?”. So I spend a good part of my writing hour just sitting there lost for words. Yes, even writers get lost for words. Worse still, you know the word but you just can’t seem to recall it. It’s at the tip of your tongue but it refuses to transfer itself to your word-processor. So you get stuck! Hate that.

Number 3: God! I lost the plot
You sit over coffee with some friends and they start talking about your book project. Ideas float around and wham! You get an idea to push your plot along. It’s exciting, interesting, unique and darn unexpected. Your friends cheer you on, calling you a genius and show interest in reading your book. You go home all excited at your moment of inspiration, sit in front of your PC or notebook and…blank.

All the excitement has nothing to show for. I hate those moments. Really do. As a writer, I get so absent-minded because my mind is so muddled. You’ve got work issues, family issues and personal issues all crammed into a 6 pound mass of gray material we call a brain and something has to give.

So there you have it. The three (3) things I hate about being a writer. My list may be just these three (3) but what about yours?

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