Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Instead of working on my story, I rewrote my blogger profile, uploaded a painting of Remedios Varo on the sidebar and writing this post …

A few days ago, I wrote about feeling adrift because I got stuck at one of my story. Afterwards, I realized that it was only half the truth. I did get stuck because I was figuring out a plot turn. But the real reason was … I dreaded to write the end of the story and I still am.

To approach the ending means to tie up all the loose ends. And there are things in the story that I don’t quite know how to resolve (yet). But then I also know that I could spend eons researching for the best solutions to both writing mechanics and the sixty millions ways to bury a man alive!

No matter how imperfect or absurd it is, I need to finish the story. Then put it aside, start a new project, come back to this one in a few weeks’ time and start rewriting & editing.

O.K. Am I ready to write the ending now? Noooooooooo!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blogging & Story Writing

Something rather unexpected and interesting is going on … well at least from my point of view.

It stemmed from several things: a 4-page email I wrote to an overseas friend the other day, my fetish about writers’ writing process and particularly, the advice I got from Girija Tropp’s article (November 2007 Victorian Writer) about her short story writing.

From my reading of various writers’ talk on their processes, it was pretty much “anything goes”. Whereas Tropp emphasizes on “find(ing) out what brings out the best in you and your writing and do it.” That brings back to the email I wrote to my friend.

I was telling my friend that I’m still testing / experiencing what blogging is all about. But I’ve observed that I’ve been working on my stories more regularly and the word count kept rising. I felt like I got some kind of creative kick or energy from blogging which I used it for my creative work. And it might also be the case that since I’ve been talking so often about writing in my blog that I need to make sure I walk my talk. I’m not complaining but this is not what I expected.

Anyhow, if this is the way to keep me working, I’ll keep blogging.

Friday, March 27, 2009

"Feeling Adrift ..."

During last Christmas holiday, I have developed a series of stories which based loosely on a common theme. Let’s call it STOS. It is my writing project for the year. I’ve started the 1st draft of STOS # 1 on Feb. So far so good. I’m now up to about 2/3 of the story but found that I had trouble to keep going. I began to blame myself of being such a novice writer that no wonders I have not had a thing published yet.

A few days ago, I read this from Writers’ News (UK). It helped me to understand what was going on and I’ve been feeling a lot better.

‘There is a tendency in the middle of the writing of a novel for the writer to feel adrift, lost floating aimlessly in a rough uncharted ocean of words. You are too far from the beginning to feel the enthusiasm that set you on your way all those words ago and too far from the end to see the land of your completed tale where you may rest finally.

There are so many obstacles between you and your completed manuscript. Do not let this sense of aimlessness stop you from finishing. From my own limited experience, and of many writers to whom I have spoken, I am convinced that this feeling is normal.’ Australian writer Elliot Pearlman

Fellow creatives, what do you do when you're adrift? What / Who is your life saver?

(Can you hear the theme song of Star Wars playing somewhere?)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Beautiful Revolution

In time like this, I need some scribbles to cheer me up.

Andre Jordan's Beautiful Revolution is full of his whimsical scribbles couple with philosophical and (sometimes) wicked writings. I'm enjoying it ... ;)

Blogger Personality Test

The torture is really working ....

I'm surfing the forever expanding web for more time waster and found this one which could tell about your personality. Apparently I'm a Doer!!???

ESTP - The Doers

The active and playful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities. The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

What is your personality then, fellow bloggers?


This is what I'm feeling right now ... at the mercy of my story!!!
I can't seem to get my story going anywhere. This is a TORTURE ............

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Scribbler - Lisa Currie

Welcome Scribbler, Lisa Currie.

Lisa holds her own lovely blog as well as organzing The Scribble Project and The Scribble Project Club. Within the project, you could find lots of amazing work from various scribblers / artist.

(Though I could hardly draw, I love scribbles, so I joined her club as well. Now look out for the most awful scribbles in blogshpere soon .... )


A few things I thought about workshop ...

- Writing is such a lonely endeavour that a writer needs some company to share the passion as well as the angst of writing.

- A writer could get so close and deep into h/her own creation that h/she is unable to see the flaws. There comes a time when you need second opinion.

- To provide critique is a skill: I once sent off a 500 words flash fiction to a writing friend for critique. I thought she would be coming back with a few lines of comments. To my greatest surprise, she wrote me a whole page of comments. It included comments on overall narrative, structure, pacing, characterisation and dialogue etc. For those areas which I was sloppy or not up to it, she provided a few “fixer”.

- But on the same token, the friend who critiqued my work was also an unpublished writer. Though obviously, from her comments, she was a far more competent writer than I was. And I did improve my writing skill and the story to a large extent from her critique. There was no doubt about it. However, the critique could only get me so far, beyond that …

- A Big fish in a small pond and a tiny fish in a Big pond: Back to my uni days, we had a very talented classmate who blew us away every time with her writing. But I observed that she was very frustrated with our critique as we (the mediocre) were unable to offer her any insight which could help her to improve her writing.

When I was doing the year long course at Victorian Writers’ Centre, I was fortunate (unfortunate) to join a group which most of the members had already written at least a full manuscript of their first novel. Not only I haven’t got a manuscript, I was still struggling with the narrative. When came time to critique each other’s work, I was so out of depth that I had nothing to contribute to the group.

- Too soon to have a piece of writing for critique will kill the piece as well as the writer!

- Workshop becomes the crutch of the writer. The writer keeps sending the story for critique and never finished it.

So what am I saying?

The comradeship and support a writer could get from the workshop group is invaluable to the creative journey. Workshop is an important tool for writers to gauge their skill and growth. But a writer should always be aware of the pitfalls of workshop. Also from my personal experience, the right workshop group could make or break a writer.

What do you think?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Laughing Wolf On Board

Thank you for joining this blog!

I'd say Laughing Wolf is one hell of a prolific blogger - new posts almost everyday!

Also Laughing Wolf and other bloggers host the Contemplation which you could post your work. A good place to showcase your creative projects. New post every Tuesday and up for a week. Bloggers all leave note to the creator(s). (Pls check rules before submitting your work.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


From visiting Written Wyrdd, I got a link to The Hero Factory. And here is me in my Mighty Slicing Bat superhero gear.

"One dark cold winter night ... the Mighty Slicing Bat came flying down from the roof and ... hurt herself really bad. She ended up at the emergency room of the Royal Children Hospital!"

Monday, March 16, 2009

Another Not A ...

Just did a search on Antoinette Portis and found that she had another "Not A" book. I'm definitely getting it.

It's called: Not A Stick

Not A Box by Antoinette Portis

Inspiration comes from everywhere …

I first read about this book from a newsletter from a local bookstore. What caught my eyes was the rabbit figure. I love drawings which are almost like accidental doodles. And then the title: Not A Box. What is it about "Not a box" and a cute rabbit scribble?

The book is for children from 3 years old. It depicts mother rabbit’s various questions to little rabbit about a cardboard box.

- What are you doing on top of that box?

- This is not a box …
It encourages children (big or small) to be creative and playful. There is also a very subtle undertone through out the book about being insistence of your own idea.

I LOVE this book. Whenever I felt stuck about my writing or can’t seem to find story ideas or just having general frustration about life, I read the book (in my little rabbit voice) out loud to myself.
It reminds me not to bog down by one idea but be opened to ALL ideas. It tells me to be persistent about my vision of my creative work. It requires me to be childlike and playful: the essentials for being a creative person.
(More detials of the book from here)

Welcome Caroline!

What a fantastic Monday!!!

Caroline from The Zen In You - You're a generous and loving person.

Welcome to the circle and hope that you'll continue to enjoy this blog.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Workshop Experience

Workshop as a feedback system is one which (I presume) most creative people opt for. From my own experience, workshop has its benefits as well as its drawback.

I had my first writing workshop when I was studying creative writing at uni. It was a traumatic experience to me. Not only because it was my first formal workshop, it’s also because I had an inexperience young tutor whose first love was English language, not creative writing. I ended up having English grammar lesson instead of workshop. My confidence in my own writing was totally shattered at the end of the semester.

During the 2nd and 3rd year at uni, I had a wonderful tutor who was encouraging and supportive. As I knew some of the workshop group members from 1st year at uni, we had built up trust to each other. It made us feel safe and free to offer comments as well as accepting critique. My writing confidence soared and as a result of that, my writing improved. It also made the writing process a lot more fun.

The latest workshop I had was through a year long course I did at Victorian Writer’s Centre. I didn’t enjoy it for a very simple reason. I was at the wrong group. Majority of participants were writing literary fiction, including the tutor. There were only three others (including myself) who were working on (loosely speaking) genre type writing. You could tell the interest level the group had on my strange tales from the frown on the tutor’s and some of the participants' foreheads. While the group would spend hours on discussion about the literary fiction genre, there was no mention of other genre.

However, one good thing did come out from this year long course. I made friend with one of the participants after the course finished. Every now and then, we critique each other’s stories. I had learnt how to do proper critique from her. This had greatly improved my writing skill. But due to each other’s schedule and our varied writing interests, we did not continued.

Since then, I’m working on my own.

Overall, my workshop expereince was of average. But it doesn’t mean that I’m against workshop or writing group.

Writing is a solitary activity and writers require a lot of alone time to create. But too much alone writing time can lead to an imbalance view of one’s work. Workshop at its core could provide an objective view of a participant’s work. And at its best, it could help to improve the participant’s skill and the work. Overall, I believe it is more about the kind of workshop and workshop group which one picks. In the coming weeks, I’ll be following up with more posts on workshop and writing group.

Alright, so far is my limited view on workshop. What do you think?

(The post is inspired and served as my respond to Sophie's post on "Workshopping" .)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Storage Paranoia

From obsession to paranoia - I wonder if it is me or it happens to other writers and creative people? I'm paranoid about storage of my writing.

I've never had a computer crash (both at workplace and at home) which lose my work. But since I started writing seriously, I'm in constant fear of losing any work-in-progress.

What I do is:

1) I keep pressing Ctrl-S every 15 mins or so to save my W-I-P though knowing that the auto-save of my laptop is 100% functioning.

2) Apart from saving the W-I-P in the hard drive, I got myself a 80GB portable disk (the silver rectangular shape against the red file box in the photo) AND an individual 500GB Maxtor hard disk for storage.

3) I also make paper copy of all my stories and file them in boxes.

This gets better ...

4) I carry my silver box (the 80GB portable disk) and a USB cable everywhere I go. (in case something happens to my house!!!)

Am I crazy? (Possibly)

BTW - I'd like to know how other writers and creative people store their work. Do you make multiple copies and lock them in a safe? ;)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Writerly Obsessions

We all have obsessions, right? So do I ...

Writing Room

Few years ago, I decided to convert my dining room into my writing room. I put up 3 book cases, saved up 9 months for a custom-made L shape table with cherry wood top, a swivel chair with a fancy name for its color - Snap Dragon (aka red) and computer & printer. I imagined sitting in my writing room to write every day. I did but all I saw was the words in front of me. For all I care I could be writing in a toilet! Having said that, I still believe I need a writing room and there's no way I'm going to part with that table!

Book Bag

As a practiced writer, I always carry with me a book or two plus a notebook and all those other womanly essentials (i.e. cosmetic bag, hand cream etc). A purse is of no use to me while a decent size handbag could barely hold all the items I carry. After years of searching and experimenting, I have found a type of soft bag which people use mostly as luggage. It is lightweight and sturdy plus each season, the manufacturer will add new color to the collection, just like fashions! (O.K. you got me! It is the woman inside of me speaking. It's got nothing to do with writing at all!)


I want a MacBook Pro!!!!!!!!!!!! It is the coolest laptop in the world. And it makes me look hmmm hip. Alright, I'm vain ... ;)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ideas and Triggers

One of the most popular topics among writers is: where do you get your ideas? The most often answer is: I get my idea everywhere. I wish I could say that but over the last few years I learn that instead of writing to ideas, I write to triggers.

1) Free Writing * and Visual Images

I do daily free writing to keep the creative mind limber. I write for 10 mins without thinking and stopping. The purpose is to empty my mind for whatever is troubling me. The beginning of the free free writing could be a shopping list, a to-do-list or any personal issues that I have. After a while, the active mind will become settled and I'll begin to "see" images appear in my mind. I follow the images and write them down for whatever time is left out of that 10 mins. Someday, it works and someday I just keep on writing of my to-do-list :)

After the session is finished, I'll transfer the image part to OneNote (a Microsoft note-taking programme). Every couple of weeks, I'll re-read them to see which one pops out to me. That jumping one will become my writing project.

2) Aimless Walking

I enjoy wandering around my suburb. This is similar to free writing, but I'm using the walking motion to settle the active mind and loosen the creative one. Also like free writing, the ideas come to me as visual images. I carry a notebook to jot them down.

3) Questions

Every now and then I ask questions to generate story ideas. They are:

What if?

I reckon I'm that kind of intuitive / instinctive writer-in-practice, who relies on the un/subconscious to do the wool gathering. Free writing is my essential creative tool which acts as a doorway I keep opened diligently to ensure material surface.

How about fellow writers and creatives. Where do you get your ideas for your project?

(This post is inspired by Sophie's comments to my other post.)

(* My free writing is an adaptation / modification of Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Practice". For details, plesae refer to her books titled: Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within & Wild Mind: Living a Writer's Life)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Wonderful Kate

Although I'm pretty tired after an intensive writing session, Kate's joining of the circle revitalize me! I can write another 1000 words ...

You're wonderful, Kate! And thank you for following this little blog.

Will work harder to keep you all here! (I think this has become my blogging mantra now!)

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I know, I know, we need the rain, but it always makes me feel a wee bit unsettled.

What does an unsettled writer-in-practice do? See below ...

Yesterday is nothing but a dream

Tomorrow is for the imagination only

What is real is NOW

And right now, I'm skipping over puddles of water across the car park to catch the runaway story ...

But hang on, if I'm writing this then how could I be over there chasing stories?

Oh my god - there's another me running around town??!!! Who is she? She's me! I'm she!

Aaaaahhhhh, help! Somebody help me!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Strange Tales


We're at a little shop which sells little handmade tote bags somewhere in Melbourne.

Shop Lady: Oh, you really have goods eyes for picking up beautiful stuff! You must be an artist.

Me: Hmmm ... thank you. I'm not an artist but I'm a writer-in-practice.

Shop Lady: Sorry, a what?

Me (instant regret of my stupidity and wish I had told her what I did in my part-time job instead): Writer-in-practice as in I practice writing stories.

Shop Lady: Ah, I got you. So what do you write about?

Me (suddenly have the great urge to go to the lady's room): Strange tales like ghost stories, a bit of fantasy and horror. Hmmm, how much is this bag? I can't seem to find the price tag.

Shop Lady: Like Stephen King ... good on you! So can I get your book at Borders?

Me (I knew it!): I'm still writing one! I don't think I need another bag anyway you have a good day!

I walk out of the shop and begin to compose below in my head.

It is interesting to notice that whenever I tell people I write strange tales, people look at me as if I'm speaking Latin. O.K., maybe it's my fault to come up with such bizarre name for my writings. But it is how I see it. I don't want to pigeonhole myself as a fantasy, horror or any genre writer. Now, don't get me wrong here. I have nothing against genre writing but huge respect to them all. In fact, when I first started out writing, I had this vision of myself writing one of those big, fat literary fiction say like War and Peace. I tried but it didn't work out for all sorts of reason. Then as usual, life took over, I got detoured and only came back to writing a few years ago. Odd things happened - every story I wrote since then had something dark and / or gory in it. What do you do with it? I'd say you follow it. It's no point to resist your natural impulse. If I have a bend to the dark side, I bend even further. (IMPORTANT: The dark bend only applies to storytelling. I'm a good person. No, more than that, I'm a beautiful, fantastic and magnificent person!)

Now the other thing about my strange tales as shown in above conversation is the Stephen King analogy. Just because my story has a bit of blood and gut and I'm a writer of horror. If you ever read Mr. King's book, his writings cover lots of genre like horror, suspense, mystery, thriller, fantasy, SF and even non-ficitions. That's why I describe my stories as strange tales. It is all because of the strange things within the stories. Also I'm still learning my craft and developing my writing. Who knows what I'll become? ..... Back to Mr. King - I don't particular like or dislike his writings. I see him as a master storyteller and I'm reading his books mainly for learning purposes.

Writing to me is always about The Story. No matter what happens, the story should always come first. When I sit down to begin a new story, I always say this to myself:

"I'm not here to impress. I'm here to tell the story as truthfully as I could."

(I guess this turns out into a rant ... sorry!)

(BTW, I have decided that I don't want to become anyone or anything. I'm perfectly happy the way I am!)

Fantastic Amanda

Did you hear it? (Just fell off my chair ...)

Amanda, you're just amazing!!!! Thank you for signing up to follow this little blog.

Now I gotta work harder to keep you all here ...

Monday, March 2, 2009

My First Follower

This is totally for self-indulgent - I got my first follower!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You're the best, Sophie .......

You should all see me now. Dancing like a drunken monkey in the office. Someone is calling the police and my boss is looking for some ropes ....

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Monday Project - Storybook

Storybook by Hybrid J

"And then, the Lady in the red dress went back to the dark hall and sat there waiting ..." I closed the storybook and waited for Poppy to ask for more. But she knew that no matter how much she begged me, I wouldn't.

"Come, my dear." I handed her the storybook. She held it against her small body. "Remember what I told you." Poppy nodded her head. "Tell me then." I stood up from the chair. "You said I'm to put the storybook on the mantel place and open to the last page." She sounded annoyed. "And then?" I asked. "And then, we go to bed," Poppy stood in front of the fireplace clutching the storybook, "but ma, why we're never allowed to read the end of the story?" I smiled and shook my head. "Now, let's be a good girl and do what you're told."

Poppy asked if I could stay with her til she fell asleep. She never enjoyed the stay at the family house near the lake. I didn't either. But like her, I was a dutiful daughter to my mother. I returned every year on the summer solstice to read the storybook, except the last page. "It was for Her to read only." Mum told me when I was Poppy's age.

"Ma ..." muttered Poppy in her sleep. I held her tighter and stroked her back gently. She sighed a little and sunk back to sleep. I stared into the darkness of the room and imagined the Lady in the red dress waiting for us to leave the hall. She picked up the storybook we left on the mantel place. And when the last page was read, she and her lover will be reunited agian for the night. They will disappear til the next summer solstice when the storybook is read again.


copyright 2009 Hybrid J. All Rights Reserved.

Above is my submission to The Monday Project - Storybook.

I'm a big believer that once the story is published (in whatever form), it's no longer the sole property of the writers. (I'm not talking about copyright here as I'm dead serious about it!) The readers will now share the creative journey with the writer.

I hope you enjoy my little story. I'd appreciate any comments, though here are a few I specially like to know about.

1) Do you like / dislike the story? Why?
2) Would you consider the story self-contained or it feels incomplete?
3) What do you think of the writing? Bad, average, fair or good?

All are welcomed to leave comments in this blog or to email me at hybridj@gmail.com with any suggestions you might have. Thank you.