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I’m Not Done Yet! Or am I?


Am I done with this novel? Is it good enough? When can I say I’m truly done?

As a writer, I always ask myself these questions. But the fact is, one can never say a novel is truly done. There’s no benchmark. There’s no checklist. There’s just me… and my novel. I’m the judge of when it’s complete. And yet, I cannot judge. I wonder if the extra rounds of editing would make my book worse. I oscillate between editing again or leaving it as it is. I don’t know what to do! Help! The uncertainty drives me crazy. But recently, I’ve come to a realisation.

Whenever I edit my novels, I mostly dislike what I read. I’m rarely happy with the text before me. I always think my story sucks – that I’m not a good writer – and I know I’m not alone. But in the midst of that, there’ll be a moment in time – a second of contentment – that hits me like an unforeseen kiss. It’s rare. It doesn’t happen as frequently as I hope it would. And it only transpires after I’ve grown tired with my work. This emotion comes after my self-loathing is replaced with fatigue.

Have you ever felt worn out from all the editing? Have you told yourself, “I’m done. I’m not touching this again. I’ve done all I can”? This brief moment of unexpected tranquility is how I know I’m done. Because… it only sweeps past me after my final round of editing. And by ‘final’, I mean I decided it would be the ‘final round’ before even starting work. How convenient, right?

You see, subconsciously, we know when we’re done. We can sense it. It’s an innate ability. Like how animals can sense an earthquake, it’s a gut feeling we writers have. But the two things holding us back – driving us to spend years on a single book – are doubt and fear. We doubt we have what it takes. We fear we’re not good enough. So we keep at it, on the same piece of writing, not realising that by working on the same thing over and over again, we’re not growing. We’ve boxed ourselves. We’re unable to learn by exploring other stories within us. We squeeze our creativity, then question why we’re not good enough. And when that moment of contentment hits – when we’ve come to believe we’ve given our all – we quickly brush it aside. We disregard the prompt that’s telling us to stop. And we repeat the vicious cycle of wondering, questioning, and not knowing when it’s done.

I, personally, don’t believe we should work on a single piece of work for years. I know I say this with The Slave Prince being a novel I worked on for 3 years, but I wrote plenty of other work during those 3 years too. And by honing my craft, I’m able to better The Slave Prince as I find my own style and voice. Am I done with The Slave Prince now? Yes. Very done. I’ve given my all. And there’s only so much I can do where I am, right now.

Moving forward, I’m ready to dive into new worlds. I’m ready to challenge my creativity and imagination. And I know I cannot do that if I’m stuck on the same book. Don’t let the question of ‘done’ stop you from moving forward. Because in reality, we’re never done. We will always grow, and we need to let ourselves grow.

So take it from me. The next time a wave of surprising satisfaction washes up your shore, after your ‘final round’ of editing, ask yourself these:

Am I done with this novel? Yes. Is it good enough? No. When can I say I’m truly done? Never.

You don’t have to publish your novel tomorrow. But you most certainly need to start writing something new. Only then can you free yourself from a curse, so cruel, it robs you of your much needed ‘happily ever after’.

The End.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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The 7 Stages of ‘Writing’

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Or should I say, The 7 Stages of ‘What did I get myself into?’

Those who think writing a novel is a single phase operation, I believe it is my duty to inform you that it isn’t. Oh, how I wish it was. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Alas, this arduous truth should not be withheld. Hence, I’ve decided to write this post and share my 7 stages of writing.

Disclaimer: My process isn’t benched at 7. Often times I go beyond when working on a novel. Sometimes I go under when working on a short story. But as my standard guide, 7 is a wonderful number. Do note that these stages do not include planning, and most certainly excludes professional editing.

1. Word Vomit

Mean Girls, anyone? My first stage of writing is vomiting everything in my head onto a word document. It’s just me, getting the story out, while trying to be as creative as I can. However, creative writing isn’t my goal. This stage is about telling, or should I say ‘reporting’, the story as it is. I do build the universe, I do develop the characters, but only as much as it is required to complete the story. Then, once my head is figuratively empty, I move to stage 2.

2. Rewrite

This is where I get creative. I research, google, and expand my imagination to paint vivid worlds and mold believable characters. I endeavour to be as ‘literary’ as I can, one paragraph at a time. Yes, one paragraph at a time – I rewrite every single paragraph. And yes, I detest this stage. If I could skip it, I gladly would. But I can’t, of course. Nobody wants to read word vomit.

3. Line Edit

Once I’ve heaved a sigh of relief, after completing stage 2, it’s time for line editing. I read aloud, test the pacing, check for errors, and split lengthy sentences. I scour for problematic areas. And as an extra step, I send the manuscript to beta readers.

4. Rewrite… Again? Again.

There’ll be areas in my writing that bug me excessively. So in this phase, I rewrite those paragraphs, dialogues, and sentences that rob me of my sleep. I also catch repetitive words in each chapter and find alternatives for them. And while doing all of that, I request feedback from my beta readers.

5. Line Edit… Again? Again.

Since I rewrote, I need to re-line edit. It’s back to reading aloud, testing the flow and pacing, and making minor changes if required.

6. Proofing

Before proofing, I usually take a break. And by break, I mean working on another story (either a new one or an existing one – it doesn’t matter). I try my best to clean my palate of the current work, and only return to it a month or so later. Fingers-crossed, my brain wouldn’t default to autocorrect upon my proofing. Though, let’s be honest, there’ll be mistakes I’ll overlook. Hence, stage 7.

7. Audio Proofing

Depending on the work, I sometimes run audio proofing twice using different voices. I alternate between tssreader.com and speechninja.co. Audio proofing helps me catch what I’ve missed, while testing the tempo as if read by a reader. It’s not a full proof stage in cleaning a manuscript, but it does call out errors. Despite it taking a while, it’s worth the time.

So, there you have it – my 7 stages.

Like I said above, this is just a guide for me to follow. The Slave Prince has gone over 10 stages, with multiple rewrites. Trails of the Wind has been audio proofed 3 times. Whereas most of my stories below a 1.5k word count are only rewritten once.

Also, the stages differ from author to author. I know of authors whose stage 1 is carefully executed requiring fewer rewrites after, and of those who’ve lost count of their rounds. It depends on the individual. But, we can all agree on one thing: no story should be published straight from the head.

If you’re new to writing, I hope this doesn’t scare you. Draw strength from your passion and dream, and you’ll find yourself doing your very best. Writing may seem laborious, but if it’s what you love, you will do it. Heck, you have to do it. It’s your life! And you’ll embrace whatever it encompasses.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Dream & Doubt

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I don’t question my dream. I don’t question the amount of work I put into achieving my dream. I don’t question why I dream. And I certainly don’t question if my dream is worth it.

However, I do question my skill – my talent – and if I really have what it takes to do it. Am I made for this industry? Are my works of any value? Am I making a difference? Do I disappoint my readers? Can I actually produce something that people love? Is there a hint of potential in me? Why am I… not good enough?

I would start a round of editing and go, “Hey, this writing isn’t so bad,” only to think, “This sucks,” moments later. I would crack my fingers, ready for a fruitful day of rewriting, only to sigh at sunset having not achieved my goal. Out of all the days spent at the keyboard, 90% end with disappointment. And don’t get me started on rereads of older works. Boy, if I had soil beneath my feet, I’d bury my head in a jiffy.

So let’s be honest – I’ve never once been assured of my writing.

I’ve never been confident with what I put on the table. I cannot say my works are worth reading, because there’s always something wrong – something I cannot fix. I can give my all. I can drain my emotions. But I cannot be 100% sure I’ve done a good job. And if you’re finding this relatable, then I’ve achieved the goal of this post.

You’re not alone.

It’s nice to know that, huh? Still, it doesn’t change the fact that we still doubt. And as comforting as the words of Bukowski, it’s something we cannot escape.

The problem is that bad writers tend to have the self-confidence, while the good ones tend to have self-doubt. – Charles Bukowski

Despite the assurance that, “Hey! I’m a good writer because I doubt!” we still chuckle and smirk in disbelief. Maybe the saying is true. But whom am I kidding? I don’t believe Bukowski. I’ve not read any of his works. Even if the internet proves he’s a good writer, we don’t know if this quote is true. There’s no substantial evidence to it. So, where does that leave us? Back at square one.

At least, we’re not alone.

I know it’s impossible to be confident in my works. I’ll always be afraid of disappointing my readers. I’ll hold my breath at the sight of a new review. I’ll not know where I stand in this ocean of writers. And I’ll never stop wondering. You probably feel the same way too. However, in the unknown, I will keep writing.

My dream is far too valuable to be shaken by uncertainties. So I’ll live with them – both doubt and dream – the unlikeliest of friends. In spite of their differences, they drive each other. And the result of their friction fuels my passion. At the end of the day, that’s all I need. That’s all you need. The only important emotion, in the midst of our insecurities, is passion. Because passion… is the spell that turns dreams into reality.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2016 in Writing Journey

 

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Taking A (Mental) Break + Giveaway Teaser

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I rarely skip a post unless I’m on holiday. Today, however, is going to be one of those days where I skip a post because I want to. And… I sincerely apologise for the lack of a fictional escape this week.

Honestly, I’m low on creativity at this moment. The newest chapter for The Clubhouse is supposed to be out today, but I haven’t even written it yet. Why? Because I don’t know what to write. This sometimes happens, and I’ve managed to push through it before, but not this week. I’ve not gotten enough rest for the past few days and I’m just tired all the time. To try and squeeze a story out of me would result in horrible writing. So if you’re following The Clubhouse and looking forward to the next chapter, please forgive me. You’ll have to wait until next week.

Since I’m being honest, I might as well say that the past month has been very mentally draining for me. As you might have read, I’ve been campaigning heavily for The Slave Prince. This is my chance to get another book on bookshelves, and I’m really going for it! But with the recent emergence of a new book in the competition, that left me in the dust, I was forced to up my game.

HERE is the current standings of the contest, if you’re curious. The Slave Prince has had to fight to stay in the Top 3 since Sparked came into the picture. Sparked shot straight to #1 in less than a day and you have no idea how intimidating that is. I quickly learned how small I am, compared to authors with such huge influence. So in my attempts to face this giant, I’ve been networking like crazy. And thankfully, through my approaches, I’ve managed to get the support of 4 creative people. These people are willing to give out their creative works to those who pre-order The Slave Prince!

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Tomorrow’s Giveaway!

I won’t be able to update you on all the giveaways on this blog, as I don’t want my blog posts to spam you daily. But if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or the book page itself, you’ll see what’s going to be raffled. There will be novels to give away, cash vouchers, video games, and even an album. No kidding. The sooner you pre-order The Slave Prince, the higher your chances are at taking home something extra – and believe me when I say, everybody will win at least one giveaway. For tomorrow itself, I’ll be announcing a novel giveaway. It’s not my own, but a fellow Inkshares author’s book. More details will be on social media.

Well… that’s all for today’s post. Please accept my apologies and please pre-order a copy of The Slave Prince. Hopefully, when I see you next time, I’ll have something substantial to offer. But until then, have a great week!

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2016 in Others

 

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Define ‘The Slave Prince’

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‘State or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning of.’
– Result from typing ‘define’ in the Google search bar.

What is The Slave Prince? What is it about?

Imagine yourself as a child. You’re seating in the living room with your parents, and they’re talking about transferring you to a private school. From time-to-time, your mother leans over and nags about your grades. Your father, well, he’s giving you this ‘don’t worry kiddo, I’ve got your back’ look. Everything is normal.

This is your house. The dog at your feet is yours, and his name is Sam. Bob the cat is also yours. You named him Bob because he’s yours. Your brother, who’s upstairs playing an MMO, thinks Bob is a stupid name. But you don’t care, because Bob is yours.

This is your life. This is what you know. This is all you know.

Everything about this life shapes who you are. And then one day, you wake up and realise you are not you.

The couple downstairs, arguing about a dinner party, are complete strangers. The boy in the bedroom next door isn’t your brother. Sam is not your dog. You didn’t name Bob, Bob. And what you believe to be your true identity… isn’t true at all.

You don’t know who you are, and it has nothing to do with your memory. You know these people, you know the world you live in, you just don’t know… you.

This is what The Slave Prince is really about. Yes, there’s magic and adventure. But there’s also a prince who has lost himself. And in this journey of self-rediscovery, he learns that it isn’t just about choosing a side. It’s about… something else altogether.
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It has been a month since I’ve entered The Slave Prince into the Geek & Sundry Fantasy Contest. Since then, The Slave Prince has nestled in the #2 spot. And to date, it has 109 readers with 113 pre-orders. Yes, the stats are good. Being #2 in the Top 3 is good. It’s safe… but only for now.

You see, The Slave Prince needs to be in the Top 3 on November 1st to win a full publishing deal. That means there are 2 more months to go before the contest ends. And we all know, anything can happen in those 2 months.

So, if I could ask… would you, dear reader, who have read my works and know what I can bring to the table, consider pre-ordering a copy of The Slave Prince? You’ve read more of my stories than many others who’ve ordered my book. You’ve left comments and likes. You’ve sent me emails. And I’ve grown to believe that you believe in me.

There is no doubt I cannot go on this journey alone. And with your support, I can succeed. With your support I can dare to dream big. And dreaming big isn’t just placing Top 3, it is excelling. So, what do you say? Do I have your support? Just think of it as treating your favourite blogger lunch 😛 Your pre-order, whether eBook or paperback, will go a long way. And for it, I will be forever grateful.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2016 in Original Works

 

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Write What You Know

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Should you or should you not?

‘Write what you know’ is a statement you’ll hear the moment you decide to be a writer. It’s a cliche advice with two camps: the camp that supports it and the camp that doesn’t. There is no unanimity with this notion. Having both pros and cons, it naturally creates opposing beliefs.

Should you write what you know, you save time. You save money. You don’t have to put in as much effort, as when you’re writing what you don’t know. Writing what you know is easier. But writing what you know also puts you in a box. It doesn’t expand your horizons or challenges your ideas. In a way, it makes you complacent. So should you or should you not, write what you know?

Let’s take a step back and look at the statement from a different perspective.

As people with expanding intellect, we have the tendency to complicate things that aren’t meant to be complicated. Simply taking this advice as it is will give us the answer we need.

Write what you know.

You know the sky is blue. You know salt is salty. You know silk is soft. You know birds chirp. You know death is heartbreaking. And you know the joy of reunion.

You also know the sky changes colour as the day progresses. You also know salt makes food less bland. You also know silk clothing is comfortable. You also know a chirping bird can be both annoying and pleasant. You also know life goes on after death. And you also know memories can bring about laughter.

You know a lot, don’t you?

So should you write what you know? Yes. You should.

Writing what you know doesn’t just encompass what you’ve learned in school. In fact, it shouldn’t encompass head knowledge at all. Writing what you know is simply drawing from your experiences as a human being, and giving life to whatever you’re writing.

When I was writing The Battle for Oz, I hadn’t read the original book I was spinning from. I only read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz long after the book was completed. I also didn’t read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland until after I was done reading Oz. Heck… I didn’t even finish Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. However, I still managed to complete The Battle for Oz with the help of Google and what I already know.

With my own life experiences, I was able to create a story without even being a fan of the original works. And that itself, made The Battle for Oz my book. Your book and your story is yours because you’re writing with what you and only you know. No one can write like you, or craft stories like you, because they’re not walking in your shoes or experiencing life as you do. The statement that ‘everyone has a story to tell’ holds true.

At the end of the day, writing what you know is only natural. Writing isn’t grounded in the knowledge of a genre or a specific idea, but writing is grounded in you. Knowing yourself plays a big role in writing. And focusing on putting yourself in your works, instead of merely gathering knowledge, makes a piece all the more believable… and all the more unique.

You don’t have to be the best, most knowledgable writer in the world, to write what you want to write. You can write about anything and everything, as long as you know yourself.

Now… for some Calvin and Hobbes humour.

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I hope this post answers this question, should you be looking for an answer. But even if it doesn’t, I hope you’ll write with you in mind.

You know a lot. Don’t underestimate yourself.

(Edit: Based on some comments, I’d like to clear a possible misunderstanding: I’m not saying don’t do research and write from solely what you know. Do research. But don’t ever feel like you don’t know enough to embark on any writing journey.)

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2016 in Writing Journey

 

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The Patreon Project

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Have you heard of Patreon?

Patreon is a place where artsy-fartsy people share their work, and patrons (that’s you!) come and support their artsy-fartsy-ness. Patrons will commit an amount of money every month to support the creator in their hard work and creativity, giving the creator more time to create and less time worrying about paying the bills. Simply defined, it’s a crowd-funding site without the restriction of time.

Many artsy-fartsy people have been using this site for years. From YouTubers, illustrators, podcasters, musicians, to writers and bloggers, some of your favourite creators are on Patreon. Today, I officially hop on this bandwagon (and hopefully, I can be considered as one of your favourite creators too 🙂 ).

So, what is this Patreon Project?

Well, for many years, I’ve been creating fictional tales and posting them for free on my blog. I enjoy doing it and I love sharing my stories with you. However, I recently thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to earn some money from my stories?‘ Yes, my stories are meant to be free, but maybe someone would like to throw a penny or two into my hat. Hence, the Patreon Project.

The Patreon Project is me taking a step closer toward achieving my dreams of becoming a full-time author. Honestly, I’m scared. What if you think I’m not worthy of your patronage? What if this post blows over your head? But chasing my dreams requires me to take bold steps, and even if I fall face flat and break my nose, I’ll take those step anyway. Even if no one wants to support my artsy-fartsy endeavours, I’ll keep trying… I’ll keep swimming.

This… is the Patreon Project.

Now, you’re probably wondering, are there perks of being my patron?

Of course! I’m not going to leave you empty-handed. Come on, I’m not like that. So here’s what you’ll get:

– *Updates on, and chapters of, work-in-progress.
– Un-blogged and never-before-published stories.
– Discount codes and free eBooks.
– Advance digital copy of self-published books prior to publication.
– Have a book dedicated to you.

*I’ve not told many people about this, but I’m actually working on a new piece of work with an artist. I’m really excited about it! But because we’re still in the early stages, I haven’t said anything yet. However, if you’re a patron, you’ll be the first to hear about it once it’s confirmed (which most likely it will be). You’ll also get to read it first!

So yes, being my Patron has its perks.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time to hear me out. If you don’t mind, please check out my Patreon page as well. You can support me at whatever amount you wish. If $1 is how you roll, then for that $1 I’m very grateful. Every dollar contributed brings me closer to my goal, and to have your support in this journey is a huge honour.

Thank you for considering this. And thank you in advance to my future patrons. Do know that without you, I am but a boat blowing its horn in the storm. You are the ship that helps me sail on.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2016 in Writing Journey

 

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