Writing Journey

To Everyone Who Has Ever Doubted

The world is full of voices but none as loud as the villainous whisper in your head—relishing in your insecurities, jabbing at your failures, and empowering the cynic within in the absence of self-confidence. Your inability to perform, though only in theory, feels like your destiny—a fated inescapable moment where your future is but a disappointment. So why bother trying? Why subject yourself to false hope? You can’t escape the antagonistic voice, surfacing at every one of your attempts to prove yourself worthy—punishing you for wanting to believe.

But there, in the destitute of faith, you see a light—faint as a lonely star on a cloudy night. Its glimmer far from your reach. Its glow barely grazing your wet cheeks. You can’t feel its warmth but you can see it. It is the hope in the enveloping darkness—the dawn of a new beginning. And so you choose, hushing the rustle of skepticism, to give credence to a possibility—that perhaps you are capable. Perhaps, you will one day succeed. Perhaps, you are not a lost cause after all.

At that resolve—giving yourself one more chance—an ally rises from your misery. It wields the stubborn boldness of a hero. Unlike the challenger of your potential, its voice bestows a profound courage. It names itself the champion against the beast that means to destroy you. And in the presence of a formidable adversary, it bears only a fearless demeanour—a commanding and unwavering disposition. You didn’t know—when you choose the light, you awaken the warrior inside.

As defenders of our dreams, desires, and self-worth, we will always be at war. There will always be a voice, echoing our doubts, blunders, and shortcomings—feeding on our vulnerabilities. But that doesn’t mean the battle is lost. We all have a warrior within us—a spirited fighter who, in the midst of uncertainties and difficulties, will push forward until the very end.

If you have ever doubted, you are not alone. None of us are free from the discouraging questions that linger in our heads. But know that you are more than those pessimistic whispers. You have the strength of a soldier, the perseverance of a victor, and the heart of a believer. The fight will not be easy—you will take painful blows and tend to deep wounds—but you cannot be defeated. The moment you choose to hope—a source no darkness can overcome—you’ve already won.

Advertisements
Writing Journey

Imagination Is A Superpower [#TRUESTORY]

JG Cover

This story begins in 1999. You might be wondering if I got the year right, and chances are, I might be a year off. But let’s just assume it was indeed 1999.

At that age, I had a classmate who was a great storyteller. Her tales were so unbelievably far-fetched, yet oddly I bought every one of them. And because she often sparked my imagination—like how she attained a publishing deal as a nine-year-old—I started creating stories of my own. It began with the haunted Barbie doll that sat on a black dustbin near the library. God knows how many tall tales I concocted about the doll—a doll which strangely no teacher seemed to care enough to get rid of. There was also that haunted storeroom, in the classroom at the end of the top most hallway, with existing horror stories that I added to. Random question: why is everything haunted as a child?

10 points to Gryffindor if you can spot me!

In 2001, I moved to a different city and enrolled in a new school. This was when I took my storytelling up a notch with a group of friends. It was during that season that Charmed became my obsession—what can I say, magic has always been a fascination of mine. So during recess, my friends and I role-played as the Charmed Ones. I was Piper. I had a Leo. My friend who was Phoebe had a Cole. All these names would sound foreign if you have never seen the original Charmed series. But if you know what I’m talking about, you can safely assume we were big fans for having our own Book of Shadows.

A couple of years later, I started secondary school. Role-playing had moved from play-pretend to internet forums. It was in secondary school that I had access to the Harry Potter books, and thus began the sleepless nights and eager evenings to continue a story I was writing with five other Potterheads. And because role-playing was no longer expressed physically, I didn’t just write stories online, I started concocting tales before bed too. In the privacy of my bedroom, I imagined going on adventures with Harry and the gang. I even vocalised the dialogue. It sounds insane but trust me, writing my own stories make me seem more insane—this was just the tip of the iceberg.

However, as I aged up, I gradually stopped with the crazy imaginations… because honestly, it felt crazy to me too. So instead of feeding my imagination before bed, I turned to writing. I wasn’t very good. And people knew that—they were aware I wasn’t the best at stringing words together. I didn’t win a single writing contest. And on two accounts, someone close to me said I wasn’t going to make it—that I should quit because I wasn’t going to be good enough and that I was talent-less. If you’ve had someone close to you put fire to your dreams, you probably know how it felt. Did I believe them? No. Did their words hurt? Yes, so very much. But I was determined to succeed. And so I chose to use my imagination instead.

Born an imagineer, always an imagineer.

Imagination is a superpower. And with great power comes great responsibility. Just like any other superpower, you can use it for both good and evil. You can choose to imagine the worst, where you feed your doubts and crush your dreams. Or… you can choose to imagine an epic adventure where you ultimately become the hero of your story. When such a power is in your hands, the choice on what to do with it is entirely yours. And, I chose to keep my dream alive.

These days, I don’t use my imagination in the same way as I did growing up. As an adult, I channel my flights of fantasy into novels and the positive what if’s into reality. I imagine what could be with a dash of hope in the impossible. Of course, I am not completely free from the monsters of my imagination. But just like in any story, no matter how many times a villain rears its ugly head, it never wins. So if you’re an imagineer like me, start using your imagination in a way that will propel you on your own journey. And if you think you don’t have this gift of imagination, take a look at your childhood—screen through those years where you were free from reality. I honestly believe that the spark is still there, and all it needs is for you to reignite it… again.

Writing Journey

How To Master Perseverance

Perseverance is a skill as much as it is a personality trait. And by personality trait, I believe it is developed through circumstances and experiences in life. You’re not born with it—babies don’t enter the world with a determination to succeed. So, not having perseverance now doesn’t mean you cannot master it. You can develop a skill in pursuing relentlessly. And, you don’t have to wish yourself bankrupt. You most certainly don’t have to jump into a dark hole of grief and regret. You can build this skill in your day-to-day life with one simple principle.

All you have to do… is stop comparing. Stop making success a competition. Stop trying to outdo someone else. Stop hoping for another person’s story, expecting yours to be exactly the same. Stop trying to live someone else’s life.

How often do we question our gift and skill because someone else seems to be doing better? How often do we contemplate giving up because someone else has become more successful? How often do we place ourselves in a box because that is what someone else is doing?

If you want to win your race, you have to focus on the track ahead. The moment the whistle blows, your purpose isn’t to triumph over the people around you but to cross the finish line. It isn’t about earning someone else’s medal, but accomplishing what you’ve set out to do. So yes, maybe it will take a little longer—maybe you won’t be an overnight success. But if you set your eyes on the finish line—when you stop turning your head to look around, in fear of those catching up—you’ll find yourself undistracted. Your goal, purpose, and dream will fuel you, and you’ll find the determination to succeed.

You see, our life is like a book. We are the protagonists of our own stories. We have our own obstacles, villains, and victories. Now imagine if we crafted our stories following a template, hoping to imitate someone else—will doing so make our story interesting? Can we call that story our own? Is it a story we can be proud of? What will happen if all the books in the world have the same length, the same plot, and the same characters? Will we be reading cliches or hearing uniquely individualistic tales?

We were not meant to follow a template. Our stories aren’t meant to be the same. We are not clones and neither are our adventures. So why then are we trying to copy someone else’s journey? Why do we seek the same plotline and strive for the same chapters? Our stories are different and it’s time to embrace it. Let’s accept that some of us will have standalone novels, others might have trilogies, and many will run the course of a 7-book long series. Let’s be prepared for our own hero’s journey, with our own dragon to slay and our own original ending. Let’s not compete with other tales but be inspired by them. We can share the same goals and have the same desires, but let’s all write a story that is uniquely ours.

Writing Journey

Who Is Thom?

Thom was raised in a royal household. His parents were the King and Queen of Alpenwhist. For the first fifteen years of his life, Thom had everything he needed. He was granted most of what he wanted. And, he lacked (almost) nothing. He lived as a prince in a grand royal palace. He rode only stallions and dueled with the finest blades. He studied with the best scholars and ate from plates of gold. That was the life of a prince. And as a prince, he did his royal duties and acted princely whenever he made a public appearance. It was second nature to him–being a prince was all Thom knew… until he wasn’t.

Who is Thom? Is he a prince or is he not? Does he have royal blood or is he just an impostor? Who is Thom, really? Thom… is us.

He’s us when we question our identities, when we’ve lost sight of who we are, and when we have no confidence in our abilities. He’s us when we’re unsure of our decisions, when we’re afraid of the future, and when we can’t find a name to call ourselves. He’s us beyond the princely vest, farm boy hat, and beggar cloak. He’s us in, perhaps, a few phases of our lives, when we’re discouraged, doubtful, and hesitant. There’s a Thom in every one of us, and there’s us in the Thom from Alpenwhist.

Though his adventure may be different from ours, what he goes through isn’t foreign. He may not be from this world, but his emotions are reflective of our own. Thom is not a stranger nor is he a friend, but he is certainly someone we know.

Who is Thom? The better question would be, who are we?

As The Slave Prince hits bookshelves next Tuesday, I hope many of you are able to answer that question. I hope you know who you are, what your passion is, and how you want to live your life. But if you don’t know who you are, don’t lose hope. If Thom can discover his identity in such a confusing and troubling time of his life, so can you. He isn’t just a work of fiction–he’s hope that all of us, no matter where we come from and what we’re going through, have a name. We have a name not coined or dictated by others, but a name that truly reflects our inmost being even in the darkest of times. We have an identity we can be proud of–an identity uniquely our own. And when we truly find ourselves, we won’t lose sight again.

Let’s find ourselves, stay true to who we are, and face the unknowns in life unafraid and unashamed. Let’s be the heroes of our own stories, as it is… after all… our birthright.

Fan Fiction (Shorts)

The Hero Boy

Ms. Marisa was Roy’s favorite nanny. She only took care of him during the summer as during the rest of the  year, she was away at her school, studying magic.

Roy, being only 9, was already a big fan of magic, and even though he was not allowed a wand of his own, he always used his father’s old wand whenever Ms. Marisa was around.

The only reason why Roy never gave Ms. Marisa a hard time was not because she fed him candy or let him zoom around on his broom inside the house, it was because she loved teaching him magic.

Everything Ms. Marisa learned in school, she would teach him, and today, as Roy pointed his father’s old wand at his pet rabbit, a silver like string came floating out from its head.

“Did it work?” Roy asked as he watched his rabbit hop back to the water bowl and drank from it, which it had already done 30 seconds ago.

“Try it again,” Ms. Marissa said.

“Obliviate!” Roy said, as he gave his wand a slight twist at the rabbit. Once again, the poor rabbit drank from its bowl of water, completely oblivious to the fact that it had already done so early.

“Ob-“

“Wait! We don’t want your rabbit to get all bloated with water!” Ms. Marisa pulled the wand from Roy just in time.

“But, it didnt work!” Roy knew full well that it did. He just wanted to do the spell again.

“It did. And I’m going to teach you another, don’t you wanna learn another?” Ms. Marisa asked, seeing his frown.

A smile immediately crossed his face as he nodded his head vigorously.

“Well, this is a simple summoning spell. All you have to do is concentrate on something, for example that book on the table, and say accio book.” With a small tilt of the wand, the book came flying towards Ms. Marisa, and Roy couldn’t help but gasps in excitement.

“My turn, my turn!” Roy grabbed for his wand and tried. He tried and tried till he had managed to get the book to hover a few centimeters above the table.

“Clever boy!” Ms. Marisa patted him on the back.

Just when Roy was about to attempt at making the book go higher, a crashing sound, which came from downstairs, made both their heads turn to his bedroom door.

“Is your parents home? I don’t remember hearing the fireplace pop,” Ms. Marisa asked, in a tone unlike her usual.

Roy shrugged. He had not heard the fireplace pop either, and it was strange, because his parents always used the floo network from work to home.

“I’m going down to check.”

“No! Don’t leave me! What if it’s a bad wizard?!”

Ms. Marisa, who apparently did not hear him, exited his room and shut the door behind her.

Roy hurried to the door and pressed his right ear against it, trying to hear what was going on, but he heard nothing. Curious, he sneaked out of his room and tip toed down the staircase. It was then that he heard a loud crash followed by a thud that shook the ground beneath him.

“Ms. Marisa?!” Roy shouted.

“It’s o.k Roy. I knocked him out,” Ms. Marisa said proudly, under her shaking voice, as she came out from the kitchen.

“What happened? What did you do?” Roy quickly asked as he peeked into the kitchen doorway, spotting a huge man, sprawled unconscious on the ground.

“I knocked him out with some of your mother’s pots and pans.” Ms. Marisa laughed nervously at the thought.

“With accio spell?” Roy asked keenly.

“Yes. Now go be a dear and flame for the ministry.” Ms. Marisa pointed at the fireplace.

“Wait, what did that man want?”

“He wanted… erm.” Ms. Marisa paused and hesitated before she continued, “You.”

“Why?”

“Wanted gold from your parents Roy. Now you better flame for the ministry while I watch him.”

Roy nodded and headed to the fireplace. He threw some purple powder into the flames and as it turned yellow, Roy peered over and shouted, “Someone tried to kidnap me! You have to come now!”

A female face appeared in the flames and replied, “We’re right on our way Master Lockhart.”

Just then, a crazy idea flashed across his not so innocent mind. Roy reached for the wand he had tucked into his shirt earlier and pointed it at Ms. Marisa.

“What are you doing?” Ms. Marisa asked as she narrowed her eyes at him.

“I’m sorry Ms. Marisa, but I have to do this,” Roy said, as he contemplated his plan.

“Do what?” Ms. Marisa chuckled, thinking Roy was just being playful.

“You’ll help everybody love me more,” Roy tried to explain.

“What are you talking about?” The expression on Ms. Marisa’s face had not change as she shook her head and laughed.

“Obliviate!” Roy shouted, and to his surprise, a silver string slowly floated out of her head. He expected the spell not to work, but it did.

As he happily watched a blank expression wipe across Ms. Marisa’s face, Roy cooked up a whole new story in which everyone, to his deepest satisfaction, believed to be the truth.

Roy was lonely and he wanted people to like him, to love him and to know him. His parents didnt have time for him and now that he was about to make the headlines as a hero who saved his nanny from an intruder, his parents would have to give him all their attention.

Roy was the hero boy, the boy whom every child wanted to be friends with and the boy whom every parent would want as a child. He was going to have it all.

True enough, he made the headlines on the Daily Prophet the next day, “Gilderoy Lockhart, the Hero Boy.” All that at what cost? A nanny who started loving him even more.