Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wreck This Journal - Week 4

A couple of highlights for this week's wrecking.

The Paper Plane:

Thanks both to Jamie Ridler and Keri Smith to bring back this childhood game to me. I have forgotten how fun it was to fly a paper plane from room to room. For this time, I drew colorful patterns and windows onto the paper plane.

My 1st Installation Art - The Journal Cover:

I tied the paper plane to the journal and pinned several found objects on the cover to make my version of installation art. Not bad!

Cover Up Art:

When I turned to the page which marked: "Doodle over the top of this page and in the marigns", something clicked.

Wrecking is all aobut letting go and step over into the unknown. For me, this also translates to move away from the rules / instructions. So to practice this new found realization, I re-presented "doodle" as "random cover-up" of the original text. Thus created my very original cover up art. :)

The IT Bag:

The wrecking act of "find a way to wear the jouranl" had me created a one-off IT bag. I took it with me and went into the city to have lunch with one of my writing friends. And gee, you couldn't believe the stare I got from peopel! And when I met up with my friend, he asked if I had forgotten to put the book back into my bag. I told him the journal was part of the design of this latest IT bag I got from Canada. And you know what, he believed it! Or maybe he was just being polite. But who cares! I had a blast!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Selby

Just found a fantastic site for inspiration.

Check out The Selby. The site "features photographs, paintings and videos by todd selby of interesting people and their creative space."

I have to say I got a bit fetish about creative space, hence I would grab every opportunities to have a peek at other creatives' working space & living quarters.

Hope you enjoy it! :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

STOS # 4

As I mentioned the problems I had with STOS # 1 (rewrite) on a previous post, I had touched on the fact that I’ve started STOS # 4.

I must have a hidden liking of self-torture. While I was jumping up and down exclaiming the difficulties of working on STOS # 1 (rewrite), I actually felt compel to begin a new story.

When I first developed the series of stories of STOS, I had no idea which one I would work on. I just followed my gut and some how a pattern had emerged. A story will pop out to catch my eyes when I was finishing another story.

Did STOS # 4 follow the same path? Sorry, nope!

After completion of STOS # 3, I went into hiber-mode for about 2 weeks. And within that period, I deliberately stayed away from my writing room and anything related to writing. I concentrated on having fun with “Wreck This Journal”. But there was also some craving going on. I had this great urge to want to read some good old ghost stories. I mean the classics like Wilkie Collins’ “The Woman in White”.

Anyway, I began to search my bookshelves to see if there would be a book of ghost stories which I bought years ago and haven’t read yet. Search result “0”. I became obsessed and prepared to head to the nearby Borders for a book-shopping spree. Then I remembered I had downloaded some free eBook from Project Gutenburg years ago. I combed through the listing quickly and found one of the must read – Turn of The Screw by Henry James!

For years, I mean YEARS, I’ve heard so many people praise about Turn of the Screw and Henry James’ writing. I kept telling myself I needed to read this book. God only knew why I waited this long! The story is fantastic and James is a master storyteller. But nothing compared to below.

I got a jolt right after I finished Chapter 1 of Turn of the Screw. One of the story ideas I had developed for STOS is a ghost story and I’ve always wanted to try my hands on creating one. So, that’s it! Mr. James had picked STOS # 4 for me.

There you go again, stories come to us in all sorts of way.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Wreck This Journal - Week 3

A Day or Almost A Day of My Life

After wrestling with STOS # 1 (rewrite) for about 3 hours, I was totally wrecked!

To re-energize, I had a wonderful afternoon tea with the Journal. The menu included lemon (wrapped by a page from the Journal) for lemon tea, cup cakes and mandarins.

A bilssful nap with the heater full on! (It's winter here ...)

Woke up with a mild headache and called in Dr Who (David Tennant) for a quick fix.

Dinner time! I had tomato, cucumber and green beans salad & fish with cream & dill sauce. I didn't use the page as napkin but spit the food on the page. Yuck! But ... you couldn't believe the laugh I had out of spitting! (Something's wrong with me!!)

Feeling a bit full after dinner, I needed some exercises to help my digestion. Pepper jumped right in (literally) to play tug of war. At the end of the game, Pepper had the Journal under his paws and the Journal was covered with his saliva.

Such violent game really tired us out. Me and Pepper headed to our warm bedroom for the night. And the Journal asked for some fresh air so there it went - sitting on a string hanging down from the crab apple tree at the backyard!

What an eventful 2/3 of my day!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

STOS # 1 (Rewrite)

A while ago, I wrote about my initial failure to begin the revision of STOS # 1. I’m here to report that the rewriting had finally begun, with difficulties.

After finishing the first draft before Easter, I’ve already known that one of the characters was of no importance to the story. Michelle (the character’s name) will have to go. For some reasons, I thought it was going to be just a cut & paste job. Dream on!

After re-reading the story, the “taking out” mean a rewrite of the opening of the story. And by removing Michelle, I have to re-develop her father’s character. He’s now playing a major role in helping the protagonist to get what she wants. To complicate the matter, I’ll also have to restructure the sequence of events through out the story.

Apart from the above, another major task for this revision is to flesh out the motivation of the protagonist and to give the driving force behind her action depth and details. And I haven’t included works like tidying up dialogue, quality of the prose etc to the list.

While writing the first draft, I rely heavily on intuition to churn out the 200+ words per day. The writing becomes a thrill ride to me and there is a great sense of achievement after the daily writing.

With revision, it is a totally different scenario. I could not just slide into my chair and start punching away words on the laptop. A lot of the time is spent on thinking plus scribbling down notes and questions for myself. Actual rewriting is done in snail paces, hence I’m unable to work on the rewrite every day. This has completely thrown me off from the writing routine that I just started to get used to. And gosh, this is messing me up, big time!

I hope that give it some time, I’ll get used to the re-imagining of story and characters for rewriting. Wish me luck, fellow creatives!

P.S. As if I don’t have enough of mess, I started STOS # 4 (draft) yesterday!

* STOS is a series of stories which based (loosely) on the same theme.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Book Adoption

Last Friday, while I waited to pick up my car for its usual service, I went to the local Borders bookshop for a quick browse and stumbled upon The Shadow of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Since I have a few hours to kill, I decided to sit down and read the prologue of the book.

Don’t worry, I’m not here to write a book review. But one of Zafon’s inventions in the book has brought back some almost forgotten memories. In The Shadow of The Wind, there is a place called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the protagonist, a young boy, was taken to the Cemetery to adopt a book. The “adoption”, as my interpretation, is about the impact and effects a reader got from h/her first few reading experiences.

The adoption idea had inspired me to share with you some of my most treasured reading experiences.

Little Mermaid

I was only about four or five years old when I read of the story of Little Mermaid. One thing about the story which still haunt me was the agony Little Mermaid experienced after she was transformed into human being. Her feet were in tremendous pain whenever she walked.

The impression of Little Mermaid in pain was so strong to my, then, young mind, I have been associated it with “pins and needles” all these time!

The Mist of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

I grew up with King Arthur and His Knight and The Round Table. The story was so deeply ingrained in my mind that when I finished reading The Mist of Avalon, I was in major shock but yet extremely excited.

It was the first time I read of a story which was told in another Point of View. It completely changed my perception of the traditional King Arthur tale. This book had major influence on how I approached to my writing subjects.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

What more can I say? Mr. Darcy has been my dream man since I was a teenager.

Remembrance of Things Past: 1 by Marcel Proust

I read the set of books (3 of them in total) in one year’s time decades ago. So pardon me if I’m a bit hazy about the book.

I was head over heels to the French who could use up to 3 or 4 pages to describe a room. (I mean this as compliment). Since then, I haven’t found anyone who could do that!

Fellow creatives, I’d like to invite you to share with us some of your most treasured reading experiences in your blogs. It could be of books, drawing, movies or anything that has major impact / influence to your chosen art form.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Welcome Kavindra, James Oh & Caroline!

Welcome Kavindra of A Clear Path to Happy to join this blog. Check out her site for her wise words.

Also welcome James Oh! As there was no backlink I could locate James so all I could say is Thank You!

And then Caroline of The Zen in You has a new total girlie blog - Whimsical Whispers. Go check out her fantastic photos, as usual!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wreck This Journal - Week 2

The Journal has delivered me some problems this week. I was intructed to rip strips off the journal and to throw a page away.

Me: "What? Are you crazy? There's no way I'm going to tear a page from a journal."

The Voice: "Yes, you can!" Me: "Are you out of your mind? I've never, ever tear anything from a book or journal. This is ridiculous!"

The Voice: "Remember last week, you poured Chai Latte on a page. So how hard it is to tear it?"

Me: "Spill drinks on a page is different to throw a page away. It's like ... it's like ..."

The Voice: "It's like you're really destroying something."

Me: "Yeah, that's it. I just can't."

The Voice: "No you can!"

Me: "It's not right!"

The Voice: "Why you have to do things right? And what is right and what is wrong after all?"

Me: " ... "

The Voice: "You see, only you could decide if this is going to be right or wrong. So what if you're telling yourself that this is the rightest thing in the world to do?"

Me: " ... "

The Voice: "Come on! You can do it!"

Me: " ..."

The Voice: "I know you can. You're a brave woman!"

See below for end result.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


It is amazing how every day I have to learn about choosing all over again and again. The choosing I’m referring to is whether I choose to write or not. And if I choose to write, I also have to choose what I’m going to write.

After finishing STOS # 1 (draft), I had come up with a very rough writing schedule. Basically I’m to produce 200 words of STOS on a daily basis (5 or 6 days a week). So far, I’ve finished 3 stories of STOS. No bad!

By now, I’m expecting I should be very used to this 200 words daily writing routine. I’m expecting myself to feel at ease whenever I sit in front of my laptop. The answer is Yes and No. I did feel at ease sitting in front of the laptop. Whereas in before, I was like an animal circling the prey and wondered when was the best time to attack it. Now I would slide into my chair and turn on the machine gracefully.

Then comes the big No No. While waiting for the laptop to load up the document, my mind would start wandering off. It leaps to want to check the emails and all the fantastic blogs simultaneously. Or all of a sudden, the laundry is of paramount importance. I have to do it and I have to do it now or the human race will be perished. And As soon as my mind start grabbing the shopping list for luxurious gadgets like a wireless mouse covered in Swaroski crystals, I have to put a stop to it.

I’m back to choosing. I have to make a conscious decision if I’m to write today or to continue with a gadget list with more items like installing a 72 inches big screen TV in my bedroom.

Choosing has become an important part of my daily writing routine. It sets up the stage for the creative self to perform. And when I step on that stage, the other parts of choosing come in as well. Now I’m facing with the questions if I want to start a new story or to rewrite a finished draft. To go further, I’ll need to make all sorts of decisions / choosing while I’m in the middle of creating a story.

No matter how much choosing I need to do during the course of writing a story, the first choosing is the crucial one. No story will get written without my choosing to write over choosing to watch crap TV.

With this in mind, I’ve been feeling a wee bit uneasy when people say that to be a writer is not by choice. Maybe to them. Maybe they are born to be writers. But to me, I choose to be a writer because I want to. It is a choice that I make on a daily basis.

What about you, fellow creatives? Do you choose to become a writer, a painter? What makes you choose to write or paint or … ?

* STOS is a series of stories which based (loosely) on the same theme.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Welcome Drab!

What a wonderful delight after almost a week's hibernation and found that another local artist had joined this blog! Drab is a Melbourne based Street Artist. Do check out his blog for his wonderful street art. I'm very lucky to be in the same city with Drab and could view his work live!

STOS # 3 Completed ...

Something rather intriguing happening while I was hibernating from writing for the last 5 days.

I didn’t consciously seeking out the reasons why I went into hiber-mode. But after the long weekend watching re-run of “Torchwood” Series 2, a UK Sci Fi TV series, I decided it was about time I got down to business. I picked up where I left off from the last writing of STOS # 3 and finished the story.

As I finished it, I felt a bit giddy and surreal. Giddy, obviously came from the sense of accomplish something. Surreal was about the way how I paused the writing machine for 5 days, and then pressed the play button as if nothing happened. I just sat down and wrote the ending of it.

Something came back to me when I tidied up the files of STOS # 3. I have been aware of one of the reasons which contributed to my feeling off-balance, creatively. But I didn’t want to acknowledge it back then.

While I was working on STOS # 3, I also started the revision of STOS # 1 as per my original schedule. I thought I would be able to handle 2 projects (at various stages) the same time. Though at a deeper level, I had my doubts. Up til now, I had never worked on 2 stories simultaneously. I wanted to believe that I could bring my work place management scheme to my creative calendar. The fact was the creative part of me was operating from an organic yet alien system. I chose to ignore it and force fed it with my work self. The result was: My creative self became confused and she froze up.

My fault lied in “demanding” my creative self to work on 2 stories the same time. I never asked her if she wanted to do it or not. I just threw the stories at her and expect her to get on with it. I ignored that working on a draft was very different to working on revision. The creative self will need to switch from one mode of creativity to another.

I should never force the creative self to do anything that she doesn’t want to. The essential thing is to accept that she has her limit. And it is only by allowing her time to grow and loving her unconditionally that she would achieve great things.

I’m sure eventually I would be able to work on several creative projects within the same time frame. But not now, not until when she is ready.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Wreck This Journal - Week 1

As much as I’m still feeling off balance (creatively), I started the “Wreck This Journal” project.

Thanks for Jamie Ridler’s week 1 vlogging, she encouraged all participants to let go the constraints which we usually associated with keeping a journal - like the copy has to be tidy and pristine. She reminded us this journal craved to be “destroyed”.

I have to say that I like keeping my books and writing materials clean and tidy. I don’t like mess. So I felt a bit nervous when I discovered one of the tasks was to “crack the spine”. How could I crack the spine of a new book? But I remembered Jamie’s reminder. Hence I took a deep breath and did it. Amazing things followed – Burn one of the pages … easy! Spill coffee on it … piece of cake! Poke holes … no problem!

But the most enjoyable part for me is to number the pages. Instead of doing it chronically, I used random numbers and words.

This is fun and surely made this cold Saturday afternoon a lot brighter!

I’m posting some of the pages I’ve done so far, enjoy!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Low Level Irritants

I try to avoid writing post which is all about negative things. And if I’m to write about negative things, I always try to provide a positive solution at the end. But sorry, not this post!

Lately, I found myself going through the motion on lots of occasions. I don’t like these feelings and have been wrecking my brain trying to understand the whys. So far all I could gather is various irritants. I’m listing them below hoping that either it will make some senses to myself and / or fellow creatives are able to pick up some threads here.

Honestly, I’m very lost, very stressed and beating up myself big time!

The Low Level Irritants

- STOS # 3 (draft) ongoing – no satisfaction after finishing the daily writing task

- STOS # 1 (re-write) – only managed to make some notes for rewriting. No actual re-writing done yet.

- Internet Explorer muck up blogging

- Limit access of internet facility due to new workplace internet usage policy.

- As winter sets in, my chronic neck pain is playing up, which means that I'm having low grade pain 24/7.

Can I blame the dark gloomy winter messing up both my body and mind?

All in all, I feel like the equilibrium I used to have is out of wack. I’m off centre. I’m off balance.

I’m sorry if this post is full of nonsense. Anyway, if you don’t see me in the next couple of days, don’t be alarm. I’m trying to get, if not all then at least half or even just 1/3 of my mojo back!

Til then, take care my fellow creatives …