Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Shyne Like A Star Virtual Dance Party - 01/05

Jamie is organzing a virtual dance party. I'm in desparate need for some creative activicites and this came on time. I'm all in and I I urge fellow bloggers to participate. It will be great fun! Check out details here.

More Work ...

Synchronicity is happening again! Just after I posted below for a minute, I checked out Jamie Ridler's blog and found out her Wed Wishcasting is about "what do you wish to read".

Last Thursday I received the goodies I ordered from Amazon. Among them were three books on creativity written by Eric Maisel.

For me, learning to nurture and protect my creativity is as important as practicing writing. Creativity is like the raw energy which I use to fuel my writing passion. No stories could be written without the strong urges to create.

The first one I picked up to read is called "The Creativity Book: A Year’s Worth of Inspiration and Guidance." It consists of 52 weeks of reading and exercises. I just finished Week 1’s reading and I almost regret to get this book. The 1st exercise is to write 2500-words autobiography. It is as if I don’t have enough of writing projects, here comes another one. There is no set time to finish this short autobiography, the only thing Maisel require is that I commit to do it. Alright, that I could accept because it means I could write it next month or maybe next year.

I moved onto the next exercise which is to name five obstacles which prevent me from realizing my creative potential. This is like asking me to write down my fears in relation to my writing. My respond to this exercise:

"Hang on, Mr Maisel, do you know how much energy I spend to suppress my fear so that I could write a story and you want me to open the can of worms?"

Right now I’m asking myself if I had made a huge mistake but my gut feel is telling me another story. My gut reminds me that ultimately everything comes down to Time and Patience.

So, I’m releasing the demons and Mr. Maisel, it’s better be good …

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I had an epiphany from driving to work this morning. I always say it is synchronicity at work to allow me a glimpse of Life.

As usual, I turned on the radio to FM Classics. Today we had a primary school orchestra playing live music for the listeners. The orchestra played the theme song of the movie "ET" which always touched my heart. I looked up to the clear sky and almost gasped. The blue was so bright that I felt like it was the first blue I’ve ever seen. A realization came to me - I’ve been so engrossed in writings that I forgot about Life.

My ears picked up another piece of music from the radio programme. It was a song sung in an Asian language. I believed it was of Vietnam origin. The melody flowed like chanting. My car stopped at a red light and I looked out of the window. Last night’s heavy rain had left glistening water sitting in the cracks of the blue stone slaps alongside the road. The sun had turned the water into golden color and they shivered with every coming car. A voice welled up in my mind, it said: you do your work and we’ll take care of the rest. My chest tightened. My eyes were almost blurred with tears.

For more than a week now, I had violent dreams. When I say violent, I didn’t mean it in the physical sense. I’m referring to the intense emotions I had after I woke up. I never remember the exact dreams, but I always feel anxious, frustrated and exhausted. Something was crawling out.

Since I’ve started STOS this year, the only tactic I used to control my fear is to avoid it and suppress it. Because I knew if I allow it to come up, even only for just a second, it would immobilised me for long. I worked out a writing schedule to pace my writing steps. And when I lax behind, my guilty conscience screamed madness in my ears. Though I told myself it was O.K. not to take The Leap this year, deep down, I resented the situation and felt miserable. All in all, I avoided all these feelings and soldier on with my writings.

This morning’s realization was born out of my avoidance to face up all my negative emotions. However, it also brought me back to a forgotten lesson I learn from Life.

"Since the day I was born, Life has provided me with everything that I needed to be who I am. All I need to do is to TRUST it and keep walking."

Writing down this does not mean that all problems are solved. I will continue to experience fear, frustration, anxiety, guilt and millions other emotions for being a person. I’m telling myself to trust Life and surrender to the fear it brings. Do not fight it any more. Let it overwhelm you. Let it bruise you. Let it tear you into pieces.

I do my work and Life will take care of the rest.

Creative Every Day 2009 - The Key

Something to share with fellow writers and fellow creatives …

Before I started STOS # 2, I knew that my character carried a skeleton key with him all the time.

As I was pleased with the progress I had made during the 1st week of writing STOS # 2, I decided to take a break and went into the city to visit some of my favourite shops. That included "Spellbox". It is a small shop which focused on selling materials for Wiccan practice. I love going through their book section to read about the Wiccan ritual. They are fascinating and I always got story ideas from them. Anyway, after about half an hour of browsing, I felt thirsty and was to go for a Chai Latte when I saw a basket of keys at the cashier counter. I took one out and my story character’s name flashed across my eyes. I’m sure you know what happen next.

As the story progress, the key changed hands. It turned out that my character didn’t carry the key at all. It was his dog which found the key at the beach and gave it to my character.

The story continued to develop and the key took a swan dive into the bottom of the sea when my character went for a swim.

Right now the key remains lost and I have no idea what’s going to happen to it. I think I’ll only know about the significance of the key when I finish writing the story.

So there you go - not only characters in a story have their own minds wanting to do their own things, an object in a story could hop from place to place … maybe I should draw up a map to follow an object’s journey. Now, that's a very good story idea!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Gap

Have you ever experienced "The Gap"?

This is what it looks like.

You came up with a story idea say a month ago. You quickly jotted down a few lines about it. You thought about it every now and then. After a while, you felt that you were ready to sit down to work on it. You finished the first paragraph and decided to stop and admire your first effort. Then you saw a gap as wide as from earth to the moon appeared in that paragraph.

From your note, the story was supposed to be about a teenage boy who wants to be a painter. Your first paragraph showed a 30+ years old man waking up dreaming of his dead brother!

So far almost every stories that I wrote I had to deal with "The Gap".

The fun part I got from "The Gap" is the many A-Ha moments when I realize why a character say or do some specific things. It’s like making new friends in the town of my choice. And then followed by the most exquisite sensation when I discover what the story is about or what I call the soul of the story. However, this all comes with a price.

Because I have no plan and pre-knowledge of the story, when I start writing, I find myself stopping almost at every sentence to ask myself what happens next. By working like this, not only I’m writing at snail pace, headache and exhaustion are the common side-effects following each writing session.

I’ve tried to do a planning or follow tightly to the initial notes. But "The Gap" always comes up and the story demands to be written differently. That’s why I seldom think about the story before and after the writing session. No matter how much I have worked out before the actual writing, it changes during the writing process.

It is one thing to trust the process and learn about what works for you. It is another trying to improve it. I’m wondering if:

- there are ways to fill up The Gap or
- I get a bridge somewhere so the crossing is much more easier or
- I just have to bite the bullet and accept that this is how I work

Can anyone give me some advice?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Welcome Peggy

Big welcome to Peggy - a strong, wise and loving fellow Aussie who is also a terricfic photographer and scrapbook creator. Peggy, you just become another fellow blogger who brought me closer to my dream of building an online creative community. Thanks you! :D

Welcome Sarah

Welcome Sarah to join this blog. Do check out her lovely artwork and home life at her plce. It is such great pleausre of mine that not only fellow writers find this blog worthwhile to join but all sorts of artist find this place interesing enough to join as well. One of my goals as I wrote in one of my earlier post is to join and build a creative community. I think I'm on my way ... :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

TV ... Writing

I was a TV junkie. If I’m not writing or reading, I’ll be slouching on my coach watching TV. This doesn’t mean that I enjoy the TV programmes or even know what I’m watching. It’s a life long habit which requires no conscious decision of my part.

For years, I have a very strong hunch that I’m spending way too much time channel surfing. This is confirmed after I read Randy Paush’s "The Last Lecture" and went to his website to watch his Time Management Lecture. First off, Paush’s book has moved me to tears. I wish I had a lecturer like him when I was younger. His lectures are more than just lectures, they are words of wisdom from a loving and spirited man. I was deeply touched by his passion of imparting his life experience to everyone.

After watching the lecture, I made a mental calculation of just how many hours I spent in front of the box. I won’t bother you with it. It’s just down right disgusting. Paush encourages students to get rid of the TV. That was too much for me. However, I did make an effort to cut down the watching hours significantly. The good thing is I got more free time to work on my writings.

So fellow writers (published or unpublished) and creatives, if you’re looking for more time to write or create, watch less TV!

Wishcasting Wednesday - 22/04

Jamie's question is: what step do you wish to take?

Simple steps for success in writing STOS – Go steady, stay focus and have deep faith in myself that I can do it.

As a person, let me continue to live by my ASS (authenticity, simplicity & synchronicity).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Any writing course, writing tutors and how-do writing books always stress the importance of a good dictionary. As far as I know, it seems like Oxford dictionary is the all-time favourites for most writers.

I use Thesaurus (the one that comes with Microsoft Word) more than my Oxford Shorter dictionary. But more than ever, I find myself trying to search for words from the "look" of a thing or locating a word from a concept. I have found below two dictionaries exceptional in cases like these.

Britannica Visual Dictionary is "a full color illustrated reference book of a wide variety of object from all aspect of life".

The Writer’s Digest Flip Dictionary is organized by using a reversed method for finding the right words and phrases describing people, places and things.

Example: I’m looking for the word for a female goat. Form Flip Dictionary, I find the word goat with this entry - goat, female: nanny goat. Also, the Flip Dictionary could double as thesaurus as well.

I highly recommend including these two to your collection of reference books.

Welcome Mousey!

Welcome fellow Aussie Mousey to join this blog. Check out her lovely beadwork. Guess, I really need to make sure I'm living up to all that I have promised. I'm grateful to all your support! :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Writing Schedule / Outline

In my work life, I have always been the absolute organized person. I develop plans, follow schedules and finish tasks to the dot. I enjoy it and am very proud of my achievement.

When I look at my creative life, it is totally the opposite. It is messy, no orders and spread to everywhere. I would start many projects and only finish a few of them. As much as I understand and enjoy the freedom and chaotic nature of being a creative person, I believe I would benefit greatly from a more structured approach to my writings.

So I came up with below schedule / outline for my writing projects.

1) 10 mins Free Writing: daily (No Exception)

2) Main Project: STOS (total 12 stories)

- Ideas developed: 10

- Ideas outstanding: 2

- Routine: min. 200 words every day (2-days rest)

- General Rules for STOS:

a) Free run (for both word count and finishing time) for 1st draft of all stories

b) Break for 1 - 2 weeks in between of starting any new story

c) After finishing of any 1st draft, put it aside for 4 – 6 week before rewriting

d) A more controlled free run (for both word count and finishing time) for 1st rewrite of all stories

e) After finishing 1st rewriting, put story aside for 2-3 week before 2nd round rewriting

f) Try not to rewrite any stories for more than 2 times

My main goal is to use the above as a base to further develop a simple yet flexible plan / structure / routine / schedule which I could follow through out this year for STOS.

I haven’t included any workshop or writing group activities at this stage. Right now, I’m concentrating on creating a sizeable portfolio for possible workshops and definitely for publishing opportunities. These might or might not happen within the year. It all depends on the progress I make.

BTW, you might find above not really to your interest which I agree. I’m posting this to kind of create a public pressure on myself. Now that I have announced my plan, I’m to live up to it. So thank you very much for reading this. :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Creative Every Day 2009 - STOS # 2

I joined Creative Every Day 2009 challenge over the Easter break. This challenge is to serve as an anchor to my writing project STOS* and daily free writing for the year. I’ll be sharing with both the Creative Every Day 2009 community and all fellow bloggers the progress and issues I have about STOS during the year.

I’ve started STOS # 2 last week. The starting point of this story was different to STOS # 1. For # 1 I had the ending fixed in my mind. Hence the writing of # 1 was to work out how the character got to the end point. With # 2 all I had was a scene where the main character was doing a very specific thing. I’m not sure if this scene is to be treated as the opening, middle or ending. However, since I have long decided that I’m not going to question too much of what I’m doing when I’m writing up 1st draft, I just dived in.

As soon as I sat down in front of the blank screen to write STOS # 2, my heart began to pound hard and fast. (No kidding here!) I kept thinking what if nothing came to my mind? What if I cannot pull it off this time? The anxiety was so intense that it was truly debilitating. I jumped out of the chair and walked around in circles until my heart rate came down.

I was arguing with myself if I was to start the story or waited for another couple of days. And I remembered Eric Maisel’s book "Write Mind" which I had started to re-read after I finished # 1 about two weeks ago. I flipped to the page where I had placed a lime green marker. My eyes rest on a small paragraph with the title: Right Silence. I remembered what it was and followed the instruction to quiet not only the mind but my entire being. I went back in front of my laptop and typed out the first 200 words of # 2.

This experience had taught me these:

1) No matter how many stories I’ve written, I always feel anxious to start a new one.

2) It is always a good idea to have a few good motivational books nearby in case like this. I have chosen for this project to "hire" Eric Maisel (via his books) as my creativity coach. :) And I have a feeling that he'll be a great help to me. We shall see!

* STOS - 12 stories based loosely on a common theme which I had developed over last Christmas break.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Things About Me

Now that I’ve become more used to share my views and idea here, I decided to get a little bit more upfront and personal.

Things About Me (in no particular order)

1) I’m a Hybrid because I’m the First of My Kind.
2) J is for Jamie.
3) I live by my ASS (Authenticity, Simplicity and Synchronicity).
4) I’m of ethnic background.
5) I’m bilingual.
6) Young and Old is just word.
7) I’m more concerned about how energetic and creative I feel everyday.
8) I live with my 12 years old dog, Pepper.
9) Living a creative life is not only about practicing a certain art form. At the heart of it is about creating the life one wants to live.
10) I’m as vain and as flaw as the next person.
11) If I’m to choose between having people to like me or people to understand me, I choose the latter.
12) Everything comes down to Time and Patience, always.
13) My creative fundamentals are also my life’s fundamentals.
14) I don’t have a favourite color but I wear lots of black.
15) I follow and believe in Signs.
16) To me, success doesn’t mean to be rich or famous. It means the determination and persistence to follow my dream.
17) I want to join and build a creative community both online and offline.
18) I tend to take things a bit too serious most of the time.
19) When I’m nervous, I babble nonsense.
20) I confess all my sins to Pepper.
21) I can never walk away from a good vampire story.
22) My hands and feet are always cold.
23) I’m yet to grow my hair from ultra short to long or at least medium length, again. (Why I cut it in the first place?)
24) My favourite food is chicken and sashimi (raw fish).
25) I don’t drink or smoke.
26) I make faces and noises when I’m writing.
27) I don’t have an iPod.
28) I’m carrying a very old mobile phone which doesn’t have a build-in camera.
29) At the moment, I’m addicted to Lipton Chai Latte.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wise Words

Caroline, The Zen In You, just post some of the most inspiring wise words from her blogging friends. Do go there and dip into other bloggers' wisdom plus enjoy Caroline's generosity. :)

The Leap

I spent a large part of last year planning and preparing to take The Leap this year. That is I plan to quit my part time job, concentrate on developing myself as a writer and totally emerge into the creative life. Then came the world financial crisis, I was unable to take that plunge.

On 15/01 I started this blog out of a whim or that was what I had believed. Three months down the road, I have come to yet another realization of what had prompted me to do this.

In my mind, I was supposed to start a new life at the beginning of this year. But I wasn’t. To ease the frustration, my intuitive self steers me to blogging. During all those months of planning The Leap, a question kept cropping up. What sort of support I need to sustain a writing / creative life? What sort of writing / creative tools I need? What if it doesn’t work?

Blogging serves me well as from recording the ups and downs of being a writer-in-practice and my current writing projects, I’m able to search / test run / develop the tools which I need. Also I’m using this time to develop, establish and fine tune a more routine based working process. This is like a test run of living out a certain part of the creative life. By the time when I could take The Leap, I’ll have some very solid tools to work with plus a more developed writing process.

So far:

The Monday Project had enabled me to develop a new "open" story which will remain for the rest of the year.

Creative Every Day, which I joined over the Easter break, is to serve as an anchor to my writing project (STOS) and daily free writing for this year.

Joined my first book blogging group, The Next Chapter (hosted by Jamie Ridler). We are to work on Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal starting 05/06. Can’t wait for it! I encoruage fellow bloggers all come and join the fun! :)

Continue to write up posts re the progress and discovery I made from each STOS writings.

I’m also recruiting "creativity coaches" and "writing teachers" to guide me through. I’ll be writing about them through out the year.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Time for Regroup

I’m taking a break from blogging over the Easter holiday. I need some down time:

  • To clear the residue of STOS # 1 so that I could start # 2

  • To review my blogging progress and goals

  • To regroup my creative life

Happy Easter and stay safe!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Discovery from Writing A Story

The finishing of a draft of story brought on some discovery of my own writing process.


Lots of people, probably including you, got the idea that I’m a disciplined writer. I don’t know why. But I’m NOT! Discipline is actually my No. 1 enemy. However something weird had happened during the writing of STOS # 1 (draft). I was able to work on it, especially writing the ending, almost every day if not every other day. Perhaps it is related to below.

Word Count

I once wrote that I’m not too hung up on word count. O.K. I changed my mind! I realize word count is a great motivator to me. Half way through writing STOS #1 (draft), I stalled. To get myself going, I sweet-talked myself into just write up 200 words a day. Nothing more and nothing less. With this, I was able to maintain a steady flow of out put. The draft finished at 7552 words. (Please, a round of applause!)


I’m never a fast writer. What I mean is: fingers flying across keyboard and churn out 1000 words in 2 hours. On average it takes me about 2 hours to finish 200 words. One of the major reasons is that by the end of the 2 hours, I start hearing The Voice (the name I give to my internal critique). Some days, if I have enough of creative energy, I could shut Her up for long. But usually, the writing session is so intense that I could only hold Her at bay for about 2 hours.

Outline / No Line

I’m never big on outlining a story before writing. Nonetheless, I had mapped out an extremely brief outline for STOS back on December last year. When I sat down to write # 1, I thought I’ll be a very good girl and followed the very brief outline. Sorry mate, the only thing that I stick with is the ending, which is the first thing came to me when I developed #1. I call this my No Line Mapping, hahaha!


This is the first time I held down The Voice long enough in all the writing sessions to allow the words spill over the pages. While working on the ending, I already knew that I will probably drop one of the character, cut out the first 1000 words, flesh out another character, drop in more back story and tighten the entire piece. I’m really glad I did that. Because now I have enough of material to do some major rewrite and editing. No words and effort is wasted as they continue to sharpen my writing skill.


I haven’t done this for a very long time. I light a candle (day & night) whenever I work on the story at home. (see the pix on top of this post) It serves as a "cue" to the creative mind.


I know this might mean a small thing to those seasoned writers, but to me, it is an achievement. Each story, whether it be a draft or a finished one, is like a small pebble which I lay in front of me to cross the writing river. Alright, you out there, throw me a bucket of pebbles …

What Next?

I’ll be starting STOS # 2 over the Easter holiday. Then come back to rewrite STOS # 1 in 4 – 6 week’s time.

Thank you all for listening. I feel GREAT!

Monday Project - Missing You - Elements

It must be the exhaustion from finishing draft of STOS # 1, I was very sloppy in my posting. Another sorry ...

I'll disclose in 2 weeks' time what elements have been used from previous submissions for this episode of Poppy and her mother.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday Project - Missing You

Firstly, I have to apologize of being late (for 1 day) of this month’s Monday Project.

Secondly, instead of starting a new project, I decided to continue the story of Poppy and her mother.

Thirdly, to make both the reading and writing processes more interesting and challenging, I have included elements from all last projects (titled: "Storybook") to write this episode. These elements were loosely used in the story. I hope this is acceptable by the contributors and invite you (Amanda, Kate & Mr. Sketchy) to locate your "element(s)" from the story below. I intend to keep on developing the story in this manner. Do let me know if you perfer me not to.

(I haven’t included Sophie’s last project for this month as she came up with the project title: "Missing You". I treated it as one element used. But I promise I’ll use Sophie’s April project for next episode due in first Monday of May.)

The invitation also extends to all readers’ of this blog. You can find March projects (Storybook) from below:

Mr. Sketchy’s

First part of Poppy and her mother’s story from here.

As usual, all comments are welcomed. However, do allow me to make an excuse for myself - I wrote the story right after I finished draft of STOS # 1. I wasn't really in good shape to write it. But I tried ... ;)

Let the story begins …

II - Missing

"Ma, wake up!" I could hear Poppy calling me. But I didn’t see her. All I saw was a man sleeping. And then there was the hem of a red dress and next to it was a pair of dirty brown boots. Someone was blowing air to my face. I heard Poppy giggled. "Mame, mame." Little fingers poking my face. I opened my eyes and Poppy planted a big kiss on my cheek. "I knew it was you!" I laughed and held her face close to mine. "How?" asked Poppy. "Because you have the sweetest breath in the world." We both laughed.

I asked Poppy if she wanted to jump into the shower with me. Usually, she would have already rushing to the bathroom. But this morning, she hesitated and stood against the window frowning. "What’s the matter, sweetheart?" I sat down on the bed. "Ma, promise me you won’t be angry?" I wondered what my little girl was up to. Poppy sat down next to me and put something on the bed. "I found this on the mantle place this morning." It was a golden locket with a rose embossed on it. "I think you could open it." I didn’t hear Poppy. I was thinking about the storybook. I ran to the next room and saw the mantle place was empty. The storybook was missing.

I turned around and almost bumped into Poppy. "Did you take the book?" I tried to sound calm but Poppy was already crying. "Stop crying and answer my question!" Poppy shook her head.

Sorry but I'm Happy!

Sorry that I've been missing for a few days ...

I needed to concentrate to finish the 1st draft of STOS # 1. And yes, it's done! Hurray! I took Sun off from both writing and blogging as creative detox and turned to preparing home made Chai Latte. The result was a total failure! Not that there was anything wrong with the recipe I got from the Internet. It was me - being so high on finishing (even just temporarily) a piece of writing, I had no idea what I was doing. But who cares, I was happy!!!!!

Anyway, I'm back now and will put up some new posts later. Stay tune, folks! :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Juli Adams

A lot of my stories are triggered by visual images. Most of the time it would be just something I see in my mind, but I also draw inspirations from all sorts of visual artworks. With my bend to strange tales, I’m drawn to a certain type of artworks and artists. I don’t claim to know very much about art. I just follow my instinct and liking to pick the artworks & artists.

I have followed Juli Adams work for a few years. Apart from her paintings, what really draws me to her is her profile in her website.

" … But I’m driven to work. I am convinced that I will get past the fear, the stomach ache, the worry butterflies. But I keep working. I am after what is in my guts. What I know the moment before I fall asleep … that the second I let go, what comes out of me will be right …"

Every time I read the above, I feel like she is telling me that everything will be fine. Just keep going.

P.S. My favourite paintings of Juli Adams are "Momento Mobile", "Lucky Charm" and "Second Thoughts". Go to her website, click oil paints and scroll down to no. 16, 18 & 19. You could also visit her blog for her lastest news. Enjoy!

A lesson to learn ...

Few weeks ago I wrote about me being a storage freak. Then BOOM! my portable hard disk died two days ago. Fortunately I got everything on an external hard disk, phew! At the moment I’m relying on my flash drive for secondary storage and will be getting another PHD after payday.

The moral of this story is: make sure you back up your files at least in 2 formats (i.e. your computer / laptop AND an external source).