Archive for November, 2010
When I was young, one of my friends asked me, “Why do you like to write so much?” I was merely seven years old, and every question posed to me meant something important. I told him that I liked creating stories. Was that even an answer? We left the question hanging. Why do we write? What is the motive for writing? If we are to think, in retrospect, honestly, the answer is that we write for someone. You can ask someone who writes a secret diary under her bed every night. She is still writing for someone: herself.
Many people told me—albeit in an indirect manner—that my writing is simple and is not worth reading. I am someone who takes constructive comments seriously, for every feedback that I am willing to absorb and apply in my next novel will greatly boost the readership. However, whenever I receive a comment that my writing is “simple”, I will dismiss that feedback and focus more on other constructive (and more specific) feedback that I can learn from. The word “simple” is simply not constructive enough! I would say the style is different. A novel has many elements: point of view, plot, style…etc. They all integrate into a story, and therefore to say a novel like Lilith is simple…just does not make sense. If I were to comment on my own story, I would say, “The diction (choice of words) is simple as the narrator (the main character) is a (insert character’s description).”
Somewhere out there, there are thousands of people who write with impressive style. They write an essay that requires the reader to flip through the pages of a dictionary regularly. As the reader suffers with the text, the writer smiles, for a level of prestige is achieved. The reader is impressed. Mission fulfilled for the writer. These are usually the people who look at my books, tell me that they’re simple and give feedback that are not constructive. They do not write to be read: they write to impress.
For me, I write to be read. Using simple words is the best way to convey a message or tell a story. If one seeks to use phrases that only he or she understand, than it is no longer to convey a message: it is to fulfil certain low self-esteem desires irking implicitly within. However, isn’t it true that many people are doing that unknowingly?
The only time when we need to use difficult words are during examinations. In an examination, we are indisputably trying to impress our markers. In a way, since readability is not an issue (they are being paid to read your text), to impress is the correct way!
If you have a blog, or is an active Facebook user who comments a lot, maybe it is time to ponder about this. Whenever you type a word, are you trying to impress or trying to be read? I learned through school and the hard way that sometimes, one who uses good language and with difficult words am considered to be better educated. Then, think again: Are we using words to portray ourselves or are we merely trying to use words to hide ourselves?
We all write with a motive. Anyone who keeps a blog secret could be secretly hoping that one day, someone will read the blog. Every one of us does something with a motive. Without a motive, we will not grab our pen to write (or start up MS Words). So now, as you do a right click of your mouse to look for a synonymy of a verb…are you sure that is necessary? If you want to convey a message, then write something for me to read; I don’t want to be impressed!
Ever since the launch of The Perfect Story, I have been receiving emails from readers, asking me why I am “retiring” from writing. Let me clarify again: I am not retiring from writing!
There is an explicit explanation on how the rumour surfaced. Many readers, upon reading the first few “Author’s Words” sections in The Perfect Story, stopped reading those sections altogether. If you have the book with you, turn to page 157 and you will understand!
I will never retire from writing. Firstly, I love writing. The moment I completed The Perfect Story, I started on my next book almost immediately. The time when I was not writing, between The Perfect Story and my next book, is only one day! Secondly, I have committed to make creative writing part of my life. Early this year, I made the decision of pursuing an English and literature degree instead of a business degree. This literally meant that I have only two career paths with that degree: writer or English / literature teacher. So far, all my classmates are teachers! Thirdly, I have built a base of readers. In Singapore, this is difficult to achieve due to the small market. Now, whenever a new book is published, Goody Books Pte Ltd will definitely gain a sizable profit instead of wondering when they will break even.
With these three key reasons, how can I retire?
Nevertheless, that does not mean that I may not retire from full-time writing. Writing is a lonely process. I face the computer for a long time and imagine fictional friends, foes and relationships in my mind constantly. In addition, a writer who can seriously dissociate from the real world (fortunately and unfortunately, I am one) is always at the edge of insanity. And adding on, the literary scene in Singapore is not as well-developed as other countries. Goody Books Pte Ltd may not be profitable forever (oh no, is there going to be a new rumour surfacing again?) as it is practically very difficult for a publisher to survive in Singapore. How many publishers in Singapore publish purely just fiction? Not many, I guess. Or not any, I guess.
So, so, so. Even if I quit full-time writing, I will continue to write part-time. I will still maintain my prolific record of one or two books a year, because I know somewhere out there, readers are waiting for my next book. Then again, though that is a motivating factor, the key factor that pushes me is that I love creating stories. How often do you get to be a seventeen-year-old female junior college student with a curse, a wife of a rich man, a full-time retail assistant with some memory problem and best of all, a crazy social engineer with IQ of 157? I was all of those in the last five years!
Now that you know I am not retiring, you know what you should do! Stop the “rumour”, demystify the “rumour” or just read all the “Author’s Words” in The Perfect Story!