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On the bright side,

It’s nice to have a writer for a friend, to be able to share our challenges and views, and gain valuable insights from their experience.

“There are people like us, who, despite all the objections around us, instead of being discouraged them, are lifted higher in resolution and determination.” When put it that way, it certainly sounds more positive than to say that I’m simply being stubborn and “don’t see the reality of things”. It’s simply that I’m viewing things in a way that others don’t, and when I understand that there is never one ‘correct’ way.

It’s hard to be discouraged. I should know, having lived all my life being ‘different’ from the rest, feel ‘different’ from the rest. I never thought I could keep up in my friends’ conversations, or my family’s expectations, because my interests are far from theirs. I suppose the impression that no one makes an effort to understand my intentions puts me distant, depressed, determined to show them that I was right all along—in that exact order over the span of 15 years. Not that I hadn’t made lots of mistakes on the way, of course I do make them, but they built me to who I am now, and that’s precisely all that should matter.

Doesn’t mean that it’s okay to put people down, especially your own children. We live in a world where there is too much competition from the individual level to the national level. You gotta be the youngest, fastest, smartest or even the oddest to make it in the world, and it’s out there thanks to boundless internet. Which is why I’m glad that it hadn’t gotten to my head that I need to compete as well; I just need to do what I need to do, because I’m special in my own way, I have my own weaknesses and strengths to work on. So do the people around you. But more than half the time, we all need others to help us see who we are when we can’t see who we are, and it has to start with kind words. Criticize, but do it in a kind way that lifts them up instead of pulling them down.

Here is to hope that humanity could work for the better with that in mind. Meanwhile, I will continue to do my best with this resolution.

A Month Later

I still can’t get enough of London.

Imagining myself walking through now-familiar streets, browsing new favourite stores, feeling the chills of London fog on my face. The memories are so vivid in my mind that I cannot convince myself I was not there. It’s not normal for this to happen to me, as I usually quite easily forget lots of details of my vacation within two weeks of being back to work. But I came up with a few theories of why it is such:

  1. It’s the first trip that I wandered completely on my own.
    Taiwan and US didn’t count because I stayed with friends, I met with friends, I took many cabs just to get out to places. I always had people to mingle with. More than half the time in London, I was being an actual solo tourist, exploring at my own pace. Without the hurry to meet appointments, I got to soak in the city more thoroughly.
  2. Too many dreams came true.
    Being in London, the city that my parents lived in when they were less than my age, where Sherlock Holmes and Paddington Bear were born, where Mr. Bean and Mind Your Language were made, it made me feel like a child again. Not to mention meeting Mr. Martin Freeman. I cannot imagine a better experience than this.
  3. My sense of adventure is at its height.
    After successfully traveling to Taiwan and US on my own, London rolled in next on my list without much worry. I made more thorough plans than for the US, mapped out every destination that I would visit including how to get there. After an incredibly successful trip, I almost feel like I could go anywhere else in the world, and London had been my stepping stone for it.
  4. My current job simply isn’t favourable at the moment.
    I’ve said it many times, I’m at the edge of my patience. It’s already an achievement in the sense that I actually worked here for more than 1.5 years, which was my previous record in any work place. I thought I had finally found the job, but as it turned out, I’m still not cut for desk jobs, or even an IT job. Or a job in Singapore. Perhaps all of them.

Thankfully, my passion for writing is still burning. Yet NaNoWriMo has not been favourable on my part, since I was writing on my mobile phone, and it’s incredibly difficult to get enough words in when I’m only typing with my thumbs. I’m switching tactics from today, by writing on the laptop sometimes. Hopefully this will speed it up a lot more, because my goal is to get to 80k, and it has to be done by end of February. Then it will be about two months of editing, getting friends to proofread, so that the manuscript can be ready by May.

That’s the plan, but whether it will happen, I’m not sure. Still, I want to try. This is for my future and ambition, after all. Best of lucks to me.

About Daydreams

It’s such a blessing to be able to daydream an entire other world again.

I remember how I noticed as a child I could easily become entirely absorbed in a world I set up in my mind, whether it be imaginary games, or in stories that I write, or books that I read and movies that I watch. The real world was completely shut out from my senses. I used to daydream a lot; my parents often accused me for being idle because of it.

But a lot of my plot ideas come from dreams and daydreams, so I never thought it cumbersome.

I suppose it was when my life started having more “real” things demanding my attention that I began feeling more miserable. Work, mobile devices and responsibilities have cluttered my mind so that for months or even years I had been having a hard time coming up with anymore creative plots. When I used to easily write on and on without stop, I now more easily run into so-called writer’s blocks; and I have been refusing to call them blocks since reading an article about how to overcome them. And it was to keep writing regardless. But there was the stress again: how do I keep writing, if I can’t even think of what to write?

That is why, it is a blessing to be able to daydream. So often my phone takes away my attention, when most times I’m actually not doing anything of worth, such as refreshing my Twitter timeline twenty times in a minute. But today, I had the phone in my hand, but my mind wandered to my current novel, about the upcoming plot bunnies and how they would be written. So far into it that as I walked from the bus stop to the gate of my flat, I barely noticed that I was walking—I could have been hit by a car without knowing it. (Please don’t try this.) It was a feeling that I have not encountered for years, and I love it. I love being able to know what to write, because I had the opportunity to think about it, to daydream about it.

That’s why the word count of this novel is quickly increasing, and I’m absolutely thrilled. May God help me to handle the rest of this work, because I don’t have anything else.

Convention and London Afterthoughts

“You’ve only been in London for a few days and you’re already expert at navigating through it!”
I didn’t notice this until it was told to me, and I looked back and realized what a miracle it had been for me to feel like a local since day one.

Sorry for the long overdue report. The entire trip felt like a dream from the moment I stepped onto the plane on Monday, yet I felt as if I have never left it even after a week had passed. That is how much I loved the trip, and London. Although many things did not go as expected, such as a tour not working out, meetings not as hoped, time perhaps not as well spent, I still consider myself extremely lucky in the fact that I had many dreams fulfilled and resolutions strengthened.

It was a trip I needed.

Now, Sherlocked the convention in Birmingham. It surely wasn’t the first convention I have attended, and it still did remind me of how less than fond I am of conventions because of the crowd and little to no casual interaction or environment with the guests. I was already so incredibly lucky to speak with Lisa McAlister on several occasions, she was just so sweet. But I know I have made new friends for the first time and that is my main takeaway from the convention. People are so nice there, and that is a privilege to shy old me. Because of that, at least I feel like I can attend another convention again.

The fun thing about the convention though was to observe how it was done. Photoshoots, autograph signing… How do the guests do it? It’s like being at a wedding, posing for everyone who wants a picture with the newly weds. I almost imagine that I won’t be able to handle the convention if I were a guest to one. But, who knows, I guess.

Winter arrived to England just as I left. I wish I could stay despite it. It simply felt like the right place for me. So, the plan is to get the below done by June 2018 so I can return for good:

  1. Submit my book manuscript
  2. Get my teeth braces out
  3. Get the entire round of scalp treatment done

And with that, at least I’ll be ready to leave Singapore, and strive for my ambitions.

I hope that Mr. Martin Freeman would know that his compliment on my English is driving a lot of motivation in me to write. It means so much to me. I hope to have the influence to inspire others one day, just like he has for me.

Twice the Play

Before entering fangirl mode, small thoughts about watching the same play more than once (in this case, Labour of Love): I am so impressed by the effort they put into it every single night. By the second time, it was easy to spot the differences from the first, the comparison in execution for various scenes, and moreover gain a further understanding of the play’s intention and actual meaning. It helped a lot too that I had read almost all of the script by the subsequent time, but of course, it will still take a while to figure out the meanings what with the British slang and all. Which is alright by me.

All in all, these actors and actresses are amazing. I cannot imagine being on stage myself at this point, but it does inspire and motivate me to work more on my ambitions. The beauty about the arts and entertainment is that there are so many fields covered, from books to on-screen shows to theatres. And my eyes have certainly opened to the latter.

My endless thanks to Kwong Loke, for his insights on the theatre scene in the world and particularly Malaysia during the little time that we conversed on four of the nights I met him. It was such a pleasant surprise to find out that he indeed was as I suspected, a Malaysian. The truth fueled my desire to make a name for our beloved country with my could-be achievements.

And now, on to the fangirl note because I have never thought myself lucky to meet a big-time celebrity until today: Martin Freeman, in point form.

  1. After four nights of no sight, I was beginning to think it wasn’t going to happen at all, especially when the fifth day started out cold and rainy.
  2. Though on the fourth night, when I met Mr. Loke once again, I managed to ask him to pass on the little note card that I made for Mr. Freeman (just a thank-you letter inside a white/silver origami envelope). He passed it to the stage door to do the favour for me. At this point, I believed that, even if I don’t see Mr. Freeman, at least the card will get to him.
  3. When I came out after the play, the stage door was insanely crowded. Which is fine, I thought, because I just want to see Mr. Loke one more time, since it was also the last night in London for me.
  4. Wait…a security guard is posting himself out here. There was never a security guard during the last four nights.
  5. HE CAME OUT. WITH TAMSIN GREIG.
  6. Patience, I was at the only way out, he would come to this side eventually.
  7. Everyone in front was done. He was starting to turn back. That was okay, he would turn back, I thought to myself. (At this point I realized how deep my problem is, where I never chased after the best but satisfied myself with the good. I had learned before how important it is to always seek improvement, but it appears that I have yet to become better at it. For this, I am repenting.)
  8. HE TURNED BACK AGAIN. He signed my book, the very last one that had yet to. Then my friend pulled up her camera for the picture, which had me standing right next to Mr. Freeman. Even tentatively shuffled closer because I felt like it would be a sin to invade his personal space, because that is what celebrities seem to need sometimes.
  9. Managed to ask about the card. It went something like this: “Did you get my card?” “What does it look like?” “It’s white, with silver…sparkles. (tried describing with my fingers, unconsciously) I gave it to the stage door–” “Was it today?” “No, yesterday.” “Oh, (he tapped my arm! sorry, I know, ridiculous fangirl) was it the small one?” “Yes!” “Yeah, I got it.”
  10. And I know he read it because, “Your English is very good.” “Really?” “Really, really good. (at this point I can’t remember if he said anything else because I was busy thanking him ever gleefully) Thank you so much.” This is where I wish I remember what I wrote exactly in the letter, but I am so thrilled to hear this compliment from him. Even if English has always been my first language, being bilingual and sometimes trilingual makes it difficult to be absolutely perfect at it.
  11. I didn’t want to leave, but I had to. But he did also say “bye” to us, and a part of me just…died, for a lack of better word.

Picture is on Instagram. Thank you again, Mr. Freeman, for being an inspiration. Because of this experience, I am going to work twice as hard to achieve my dreams.

Goodbye, London, you have been a great inspiration and motivation. I hope to return very soon.

On to Birmingham.

London So Far and a Play

Where do I even begin to talk about.

If you have seen my Instagram, I posted a picture of the view over Iran desert when flying from Dubai to London. It was breathtaking. It made me realize how intrigued I have been with the Middle East. Perhaps one day I could try visiting despite all that was happening. Not alone, of course. Dubai is a good place to start, I think.

As per usual, my arrival in London was fairly the same as my arrival in the States—I didn’t feel all that foreign. Singapore has already grounded my impression of a multinational city, so apart from the accent, I still saw plenty of Chinese speaking Chinese, etc. The signs at the train and Tube stations were a little confusing, especially when multiple lines shared a platform unlike Singapore, but it’s just a matter of getting used to it.

The play, Labour of Love, was amazing. I sat next to a very enthusiastic lady who clearly knew her politics and history, while I only know a handful from my readings prior to the play. I couldn’t believe I knew how to laugh over specific political joke. Of course, I still had that phobia of angry yelling which startled me a couple of times, but all in all, it was an amazing play. Utterly inspired by the effort they put into the three hours, improvising and making it through. It’s funny how, after watching Martin Freeman on stage, I began to see him as a human rather than a celebrity. I think my impression of theatres had always been exclusively that they are made by actors with ordinary lives, and seeing him up there sets in stone who he truly is, as with every celebrity. Even Kwong Loke, who appeared for only one scene, has become my inspiration just by being in the play, because apparently I can’t escape the pride in my culture and the success he brought to it. At least, it brushed away my worries that I only wanted to become a celebrity, but in truth, I just want to be a human, who writes as a job, and inspires others and my people as I go along. Yes, definitely, that is what I want in my life.

Hence, my plan now, is to take a two to three months break after the bonus payout in June 2018, just to write and work on fulfilling my dreams. Perhaps stay in London for it. I am praying hard on this.

It is my third day in London now. Hope the weather will be in my favour.

 

“I would love to see the bisons.”

I said those words nearly a year ago to a friend’s mom, who took the little time she had to drive me all the way to Antelope Island from Fruits Height in Utah. And I’m very grateful towards her.

It makes me wonder how ridiculous I must have sound, especially whenever one scoffs at me about how boring and meaningless some things are and yet I express utter enthusiasm over, like the half-well that my companion and I went specifically to look for in the centre of Chiayi city. They say you tend to lose interest in more things as your life goes by, like my parents who couldn’t bring themselves to visit other countries because “they are all the same.”

It’s frankly saddening, that fascination towards the insignificant should be restricted to the children who are learning the world. But is the world not big enough to endlessly learn about it? Do we not still find something interesting to know when we are ninety years old?

My mother commented about my twenty-something-year-old brother one evening many years ago as we rushed out to watch fireworks, “He’s like a child, always so excited over the fireworks.”

And that stuck to me. Do we not express our own joy when a child gleefully showed us their discovery of a butterfly? Is that not joy the child is expressing to us? Yet adults constantly lamented about how there is a lack of reason for joy, when there are plenty around us to feel joy over.

When one calls me a child, I don’t find it offensive. Because, at least, I understand that I can find happiness in my surroundings. For that, I may as well be the happiest adult on earth, and I am thankful for it.

Fame and Human

Growing up shy and reserved, I didn’t think I wanted to gain much attention to myself. I didn’t think I was special in any way, that would be of any good use to others, or in a distressed millennial’s words, being “easily replaced”.

When I was 14, someone I considered a friend told me that I was the only one who was a true friend to her. For me, who constantly found myself alone, was astounded to hear that even though I did nothing save for being myself. I suppose it was then that I began to seriously think about the influence I had on others, that I was determined to show that I can be an asset to the society. At the age of 14, I was intrigued by the idea of fame, enthralled by young stars, musicians, actors that I watched off TV or heard from older siblings. Like perhaps most kids at that age, I would have loved being famous, starring on a Disney Channel series or showcasing my writing.

Yet I’m not entirely sure if I knew what it meant to be famous, or why I wanted to be famous. In fact, I’m still not sure about now. I have been considerably chill about whether or not I make it big with my work, even taking it slow about making money. So what is my motivation?

The Backstreet Boys are performing on the day that I fly to London. Out of nostalgia, I started looking them up on Google to see what they had been up to, naturally diverting to my childhood crush, Aaron Carter. The very first result that came up on Google was his return to rehab. Having not heard about this but aware of his party animal nature, I pulled up his Wikipedia. Needless to say, it was excruciating to read. I turned to Nick Carter, my next crush. Again, nothing pleasant, but somewhat better. Amidst this discovery, a sentence from Aaron Carter popped up loud to my mind, “I’m human and […] I make mistakes.”

I don’t wish to judge, but having watched the devastation surrounding people like Michael Jackson, Carrie Fisher and even Chester Bennington, I couldn’t help but wonder about the lives they led with fame and constant scrutiny from public eyes. Was it burden? Plenty of celebrities shared how they didn’t want their personal lives pried, and yet we read about their private encounters everywhere. It seemed to me that it’s inevitable once you become someone adored or abhorred by millions, once you become famous.

If that happens to me, can I handle it? Will I feel burdened, weakened to my knees, desperate for privacy?

…Maybe not?

After all, as a writer, I aim to inspire, to motivate. I don’t write because I want to appeal to the audience, to tell them, “hey, I’m human too, so it’s okay to be bad sometimes”. I write because I want to tell them, “yes, I’m human too, but I’m trying, and I’m doing better, so can you”. Because my life has been about improvements, little steps that I take to learn about myself, about what it means to really live, and then enduring with positivity of my life.

Maybe I won’t feel burden. Maybe I’ll feel inspired.

At least, I aim to do so, if I do become famous. Whether that happens, it is up to God.