Thursday, July 30, 2009

When Do You Become A Writer?

Again, I thank you for all the insightful comment I got from my previous post – “Where Am I?” Each one of them is like a brightly-lit candle to guide me in my search for clarity. My humble thanks.

My search so far had led me to this:

“My desperation of becoming a published writer had me pushing myself to a corner. The result is my creativity froze up and the stories no longer sparkle.”

While writing up the “Where Am I” post, I have also started a Q & A session with myself.

Q: When does a writer become a “writer”?

A: When I have a short story or a book published by a prominent publisher.

Q: What if you have 1 short story published by a little known journal once? Are you a writer or not?

A: Probably not …

Q: So when do you think you’re a writer?

A: Maybe when I have more stories published … maybe when I’m earning my living from writing … maybe when both my ideas and prose flow without effort …

Q: So you don’t know when you’ll be a writer?

A: (Silent)

Q: Or you have another sixty millions rules to fulfil before you become a writer?

A: (Silent)

Q: You know what? If those are your criteria, you’ll NEVER be a writer because whatever you do, you’re never there!

A: (Silent) (I could feel tears coming up.)

Q: Sorry mate, you can cry as much as you want, but I’m going to throw you these …

You have let all these rules and the idea of a “published writer” take away the things which make you write …

You write not because you want to be a “published writer”.

You write because you enjoy the “high” that you got when you finally know what the story is.

You write because you love to see that your writing language takes on a new shape after hours/days/months / years of writing stories.

You write because you love to be amazed and amused by creativity.

You write to see what else has been buried deep in your core, your soul and your spirit.

You write because that is what you do.

A: (Silent)

I’m putting a halt to this Q & A session as I have realised something.

My mind has been so fixed on publication as the final price that I had undermined every one of my writing achievements. I have extinguished my own creative fire because I mistook publication as the ultimate energy source to fuel my writing. I was wrong! The source was never ever from the outside. It came from within. It came from the sparks, the “high” and the discovery which writing had brought me!

I won’t say that this realization had swept away all my frustration. But it helped to “re-claim” my creative self.

Also on second thought, I don’t think the frustration will ever be totally gone. As a creative being, we are always seeking new horizon of our chosen art form. And with each new adventure, we’ll always encounter new problems which will always lead to new frustration. Hence, frustration is inherent in all creative acts. Perhaps instead of viewing frustration as something that is ugly, horrible and negative, we should welcome it. For it signifies that we are embarking on a new journey.

I think this should about conclude my journey to understand creative frustration. I thank you all my dear, dear fellow creatives for listening and sharing. But most of all, for catching me when I fall. I'm eternally grateful!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Where Am I?

I’d like to thank everyone who had commented on my previous post “I Don’t Have Anything Else To Do”. Each one of your comments had helped me to go deep into understanding my current frustration.

From my last post, I mentioned that my current frustration might have come from that fact that I have nothing else I want to do with my life, except writing!

Looking at writing from this point of view, I see that I have invest a lot in my writing. Thus I have become extremely critical to my skill and progress. Yes, I did manage to give myself free run for writing up first draft. And when I started the re-writing of STOS # 1 on June, I thought I was o.k. with the story. It took me this long to realize that there’s a part of me who’ve been sneering at all my effort all these time. Underneath it is the sinister voice of the eternal critic who said:

You wrote shit!

You’ll never get published!

You should have stories published by now if you haven’t wasted all these years only “talking” about writing!

Now, this last comment (you should have stories published by not if …) is also crucial to my frustration. It loomed so big in my mind that I started to feel desperate and panic. And how do I deal with it? I required myself to work harder and faster. In another word, I've been trying too hard. I have turned the entire writing process into a CHORE. The daily 200 word count is just a thing on my To-Do-List which I can’t wait to get it out of the way. Having a writing (or creative) routine is one thing, but if it becomes only a task, it freezes creativity. (Having said that I’m still a big believer of routine based working method.)

And thanks to Holly’s keen observation, something else started to make sense to me. It was about the initial “glamour” associated with starting any new project began to wear off, the project became … just a project. It lost the shine and glory which I have placed on it. Holly also mentioned it might be time to give writing a rest and do something thing else. I’m not quite sure about this as when I was doing other non-writing project, I felt agitated from being away from my stories.

This is where I am:

My desperation of becoming a published writer had me pushing myself to a corner. The result is my creativity froze up and the stories no longer sparkle.


I haven’t yet figure out steps or an action-plan to deal with it. But I believe I need to go deeper and further with the comments I so far gathered from the previous post.

Thank you for listening and hope you’ll still be with me next time …

P.S. The "arrow signs" on the pix said: Where Am I?

P.P.S. "STOS" is my current writing project. It is developed on Dec 2008 and is a series of stories which based (loosely) on the same theme.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wreck This Journal - Week 8

Sorry fellow wreckers, only 1 wrecking this week ... if it counted as a wrecking act at all. See pix!

And why no wrecking ---> because I'm really pissed off without a car. (If you recall from my last post, I got a minor car accident a few weeks' ago and the car is at the repairer this week ...). I don't want to bore you with all the inconvenient details of not having a car except this one.

You see, my house is quite far away from my office - 3 changes of train, a total of 1.5 hours. And we're in the middle of winter which means chill mornings with strong wind and showers. Imagine standing on the train platfrom 7 o'clock in the morning with wind & rain in you hair. Bloody miserable!!! And I still have to endure this ordeal for another week before getting my car back.

With all of these crankiness going on, I had no choice but to break the promise I had made to myself on Jan this year. (The promise: I was not to buy any clothes and / or accessories for 12 months.) I bought myself a pair of Dr Martens with Wings. (The one I'm wearing in the pix). Did I feel better? Ooooooh yes!!!

There you go my fellow wreckers, I'm a happy woman again! :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

I Have Nothing Else To Do

Before I start off, I want to thank you, my fellow creatives for taking time to read this incomplete post. I ask for your forgiveness and patience if you pick up any incoherent of my writing. I’m not my usual self lately and I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on! This post is part of my search.

I have wanted to write about a particular workshop experience for a long while. But I was fearful that I would either turn myself into an idiot or appear to be an arrogant bastard. However, from the various degrees of frustration and puzzlement I picked up from a few of our fellow creatives, I began thinking deeply about my writing and this one particular workshop experience.

About two years ago, I enrolled in a one-day writing class called "Finding Your Voice". (Not singing, but writing voice! And thank god you never hear me sing …) The tutor and participants were all passionate about writing and were generous to offer each other critique and support. I had learnt a lot from them and gained confidence in my writing. (I’m sure you can tell there’s a “but” coming …)

But there was one “reaction” from both the tutor and participants which left me with bewilderment. As usual in a lot of writing workshops, participants are invited to talk about the reasons why they write. It was no different with this one. I gave the usual plus one specific reason: Because I Have Nothing Else To Do. As soon as I made this statement, the entire class laughed. I was taken aback and felt like an idiot. I was pretty sure they must have thought that I was making a joke. I can’t remember exactly what happened afterward. Probably I babbled a bit and let the thing trailed off.

Lately, though I’m experiencing tremendous frustration of maintaining my creativity, I still hang onto my story writing for exactly the same reason. Let me say it again: Because I Have Nothing Else To Do. I’m not sure how you’ll take this … hopefully you don’t laugh. But I also don’t want you to have the wrong idea that I’m showing off my determination to be a writer and hence undermining your effort in pursuing your art. I’m simply stating a fact of my life.

Now for this “nothing else”, it could be viewed in two ways:

1. Our duties / responsibilities / obligations to our day job, families & friends.

2. All sorts of activities which we do for fun / relaxation / filling up our spare time.

And when I say I don’t have anything else to do, I'm not only talking about the responsibilities and activities. I'm referring to what I want to do with my life at this stage.

You might think that by identifying the above, my frustration should cease. Oh, no! Far from it. I’m actually thinking it might be part of the problem. As I’m still pondering and planning a separate post on it, I’ll stop here and ask my fellow creatives a few questions.

- If time and money is not an issue (OR) if you have unlimited time and money, would you still write / draw / sew / knit / create? Why?

- Is there anything else you want to do with your life other than your current art form? Why?

You’re all welcomed to respond to these questions as comments in this blog (OR) you could write a post as respond in your blog. If you choose the latter, I would appreciate if you could let me know so that I could hop over and read about it.

Til then … have a great day!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Wreck This Journal - Week 7

I didn't do much wrecking this week and I'm blaming it to the minor car accident I had about two weeks ago.

Don't worry, no one got hurt and it wasn't my fault! But I got really annoyed about driving a car with a huge dent on the door and the paint work chipping away. Anyway the car was scheduled for repairwork next Monday but I'll need to wait for 2 weeks before I could have it back. I think I'm acutally a bit pissed off!

And then Pepper's diahorrea came back the second time and we (me and my vet) had no idea what was causing it. My poor little doggie prince hasn't been himself for awhile.

So all in all, here are a few pix of my wreck work. I hope you all had a better week than mine. ;)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Megan's Giveaway.

Megan, an author and illustrator is having her first giveaway at her studio! The giveaway is of Chelsea Rose's artwork. Go and check out both Megan and Chelsea's wonderful illustrations and details of the giveaway. I adore Megan's Victorian Tales and Chelsea's giveaway items!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lesley & Pocket Mod

To my great horror when I re-read my yesterday's post, I wrote like I found the link of the Pocket Mod. I didn't! I got the link from lovely Lesley. I'm so sorry of my careless writing ... :(

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lesley Denford & Free Cute Gadget

You might have picked up that I’m one of the (self-proclaimed) wreckstars of “Wreck This Journal”, hosted by Jamie Ridler. And part of the game is to swap our pages with fellow wreckstar. I was paired up with the talented Lesley Denford (designer, artist, rockstar and blogger).

I reckon she is one hell of a walking creative bomb, who is full of vibrant energy and an eye of beauty. Check out her blog for all her wonderful links of illustration, art project etc. But most of all, you must go to below site for the cutest free gadget on the net.

It is called Free Recycle Personal Organizer. Adorable and Practical! I’m not going to explain it too much, as I don’t want to spoil the fun. Go and check it out! I’m already carrying this cute little Organizer myself!

And by the way, didn’t I mention to you that Lesley would be on tour from August for her year-long music missions trip with CTI Music Ministries.

Fellow creatives & bloggers, if you have time, I urge you to go over to Lesley's blog and wishing her all the best to her upcoming tour. We creatives should support each other in our adventure, don't you think! :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wreck This Journal - Week 6

As I'm in the middle of watching Torchwood: Children of the Earth, this is going to be short.

Another "installation art" of mine - a paper fan made from one of the pages coming out from the Journal.

And I re-assemble some of the pages.

Hope you enjoy it and I sure did.

(Shit, they just killed Captain Jack Harkness!!!)

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I'm so thrilled to add below to my award list.

Watermelon # 10 Award as bestowed by Leone

And also thanks to Leone, this is my first "writing" award. Seriously, no kidding! (I mean at least that's how I interpreted it, hahaha!)

Leone passed this award to me as a token of my diligent in pursuing my writing as well as knowing when to slow down for recharge. I was very moved by her generosity and her sensitive understanding that we all needed encouragement along our creative journey. And what more encouraging than an award for trying hard!

I'd like to pass the award onto below fellow creatives for their perseverance in their pursuit of their art and blogging.

Laughing Wolf

Friends Award as bestowed by Laughing Wolf

I love the simplicity and straight forwardness of the award - that is just by being a friend.

So I'm going to pass this award to all of my blog land friends. Feel free to come and grab it. All I ask is that you also pass it on to your blogging friends.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


In this slowing time of mine, though I’m still creating, I really need some extra boost to keep me going.

For those who have been following this blog for a while, you all know that I’m currently reading books on creativity by Eric Maisel. Well, I have to admit that since early June, that was when I semi-hibernated, I felt like I was on overdrive. To give myself a decent break and to re-tune the creative engine, I stopped all my readings. But since my official slow-down, I went back to the “The Creativity Book”.

To quote Maisel on Week 17: “An everyday creative person makes an effort to embrace bewilderment.” When I read of this, I thought to myself: No problem. I’ve been embracing the chaos of writing 1st draft all these months. And I’m perfectly o.k. with it. I also thought maybe Maisel’s book was not right for me at this stage. So I put it down and went back to tackle the rewriting of STOS # 1.

But the phrase “embrace bewilderment” kept swirling in my mind and I couldn’t focus on writing. The only way to get rid of it is to bring it to the boil.

I went back to re-read that chapter a couple of times and there was one sentence which really jumped out at me.

It might mean that you’re on the verge of a breakthrough that can only occur if you let out a real shriek: “I have no idea what I’m doing!”

Bingo! That’s it!

I did embrace the bewilderment (not knowing) of creating stories. But I rejected the "not knowing" when I was working on rewriting / editing. I actually expected myself to know everything about the story after the first draft. The “I should know” attitude not only brings in frustration and pressure. It is crippling the rewriting process and literally places the story on hold.

I have to admit that I’m still pretty much in the dark and just like what Maisel says: "I have no idea what I’m doing!"

I need to surrender myself to the story again. And let the story re-write itself. Or as Maisel suggests: I’m prepared to work blind.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Wreck This Journal - Week 5

4 weeks down the wrecking road and I've learn a bit of my wrecking style.

I enjoy cutting, tearing, crumpling, making windows and holes of the pages. And the little rebel in me also took up her stand and refused to follow the instructions on some of the pages for wrecking. Combing these two, I have created these.

Hide & Seek

Window of the Lady Bugs

Sudden Destruction

Hope you enjoy them and have a great wreck week!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Slow Down

When I started this blog on Jan, I required myself to write an average of 4 posts a week. Up til May, it was do-able. Since June, I found I had pushed myself to a corner. I tried and tired and tried to keep up, but to no avail.

Major reasons are that I got busy at work, which means I’m totally exhaust afterwards. Honestly, I could barely cook myself a decent dinner. Then I’m working on 2 writing projects which need my undivided attention. Plus the other usual writing related businesses, like reading all sorts of material for learning and research purposes. Oh, almost forgot, some down time to recharge…

Hence with a heavy heart, I have decided to cut-down on my posting. At this stage, I’m thinking of 2 or max. 3 posts a week. But of course, if I’m up for it, I’ll post as many as I can.

I hope that you’ll understand and continue to visit this place. And I sure will continue to drop by your place.

Thank You!