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Travel & Write

I love traveling – most of my friends, and even some of you, know that. I actually make it a priority to travel at least once a year. And because I’m not living in luxury – despite few assuming so, due to my escapades – I save as much as I can every month to make travel possible. It has become a ‘need’ in my life. But why?

There is, of course, the reason of ‘taking a break and seeing the world’. That’s the best reason anyone can give. It’s also a very legit one. But aside from that, I’ve found another reason to travel: inspiration. Traveling has inspired my writing. In fact, it has made me a better writer. Flights of fantasy frame a tale, but an experience gives it life. I endeavour to travel because I believe it gives my stories life – it makes them real. But how so, you ask?

#1 Cultural Understanding

Whenever I hop on a plane, I subject myself to a culture unlike my own. There’s a whole new way of doing things in a foreign land – a new mindset, upbringing, and belief. This unfamiliarity is the perfect opportunity to broaden my perception of the world. It corrects my former notions, and opens my mind to different possibilities. This understanding helps in my writing, especially when trying to break from a mold.

Often times, we box our characters in an ideal world – a world with a common set of cultures and beliefs. We do so because it’s safe – it’s what we know. But by experiencing other cultures in the real world, we gain a new understanding. Through the diversity, we’re able to sculpt a story from a fresh perspective. And by infusing the variety of life, we make our stories relate-able. Such stories live beyond the final page.

#2 Sight Beyond The Picture

There’s a difference between seeing a picture of an icy mountain peak and actually seeing it in person. There’s a set of emotions that come from sight beyond a picture. When you stand before a colossal work of nature, you’ll find yourself lost for words – awed at its magnificence. But when you look at a picture, you only feel a pinch of that emotion. You cannot grasps its magnitude and beauty, and your imagination will have to fill in those gaps.

When you’ve seen something in reality, your capacity to describe becomes far greater. The hustle and bustle, of a crowded street, is easier written when you’ve been jostled by the swarm of bodies. Compare that to a snapshot of Shibuya crossing, you can only imagine being sardined. Writing through an experience will leave a sense of reality with your reader. But to paint a real picture for them, you have to see its reality for yourself.

#3 Play Of Emotions

How important are emotions? Very. A writer needs to feel, before a reader can do so. But how can you feel anxious, overjoyed, fearful, and excited in writing, if you’ve not felt it in reality? There are many emotions aside from the common, everyday Inside Out posse. To know what it feels to be truly lost, is to be truly lost. To know what it feels to be wonder-struck, is to be truly wonder-struck. To know what it feels to be… you get my drift.

Traveling gives you the opportunity to experience and play with emotions you normally don’t. It helps you grasps the true meaning of a word. It helps you explain it in words, drawing from your very own encounters. Invoking emotion in a reader requires an author who knows that emotion inside out. And the only way to know an emotion is to feel it.

I know I’ve sold traveling as if it’s the best thing a writer can do. I also know that traveling may not be a luxury for some, while it may not be a priority to others. Whatever it is, I want to encourage you to see the world. You don’t have to board a plane to do so – you just need to try something new. Explore a part of your city you’ve not traversed. Try exotic dishes at a foreign restaurant. Befriend somebody from another country. Go out and experience the world first hand. Trust me, it’ll make a whole lot of difference in your writing – this, coming from a wanderlusting author.

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8 Comments

Posted by on May 4, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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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.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Ballerina

ballerina

I dance.

There is something special about me when I dance. The princess of this beautiful kingdom saw it in me. So I dance… I dance for her.

No, I don’t dance when there’s a festival or a cheerful kingdom carnival. I don’t even dance for the royal ball or when the princess needs to be entertained. I only dance when darkness falls.

Every once in a while, the kingdom will be cloaked with a dark presence. And when that dark presence swallows the kingdom whole, life ceases to exist. Every soul would shut their doors and lock their windows, every flower eager to bloom would wither away, and the warm sun and fluffy white clouds would be absent from sight. What was once a lively gathering of laughter and cheers now becomes a grim manifestation of death.

Before my arrival, the kingdom fallen into this dark hole would suffer for weeks before light would reappear. It is said that the princess had tried many ways to rid her kingdom of the darkness, but all her efforts had failed. She was very ready to give up, but when she saw me, a spark of hope twinkled in her eyes. “You’re special,” she said, so certain and so happy to have me by her side.

The princess was convinced that I would be able to chase the darkness away, and despite my own lack of confidence, I decided to try and help her. So, on one dark and scary evening, I danced my first dance.

I was never taught on how to dance, I just know. It is something my body does so naturally and effortlessly, I don’t even need to think about my next move. But when I was sent to the dark streets for the first time, I was too terrified to make a move.

The buildings around me towered above my head, seemingly leaning in as though about to collapse on my fragile state. The vines that wrapped around the mouldy brick walls twisted to form hideous faces that looked down on me menacingly. The air was cold and heavy, clutching onto my bones like a skin to my body. And the dead silence… the dead silence gave room for strange and terrifying thoughts to fill up my mind.

I stood on that street for a very long time, not daring to move a muscle. The little light that came from the candles behind the closed windows was not enough to guide my path. I was scared and I found the task too daunting. I was tempted to run away and hide, but the princess stopped me with her pleas.

“Help me, Ballerina. Help me chase the darkness away,” the princess said. Her voice was so sad and desperate; a voice that should not be heard from an innocent child.

Knowing how much it would mean to her, I gathered the little courage I had and took my first step. One step forward, a shallow bow, another step forward with a gentle hop. It did not get any easier, so I shut my eyes and listened to the melody inside my head. The soft melody that was drowning in the sea of horrifying words was hard to focus on, but as I kept on moving, the soothing sound that drifted in my head swept everything away.

I found it easier to dance as my imagination guided my every move. I imagined the prickling vines to shrivel up, the brick buildings to be coated in red again, the flowers to breathe in new life and bloom with bright colours, the butterflies to flutter along my side, the dark sky to flee at the sight of the sun, and the warmth of day to melt the coldness away. I imagined the doors and windows to swing open as people entered the streets with smiles on their faces, the children to run with their friends and their yappy dogs, and the marble fountain in the courtyard to burst with fresh and clear water.

Everything I imagined I saw so clearly in my head, it felt so real but I dared not stop. I kept moving until I heard the princess’ voice again.

“Thank you, Ballerina,” the princess said. Her voice was no longer coated with fear and she sounded happy; a voice every child should have.

You’re welcome, I said silently, as the melody and my feet stopped moving.

When I opened my eyes, I saw the princess staring at me with a big smile on her face. She held the music box I called home in her hands, and hesitated to close me in. I knew she was tempted to wind me up again and watch me dance, but the princess wanted to save my magic. So after what seemed like a very long time, she whispered another thank you and gently shut my box.

I danced, and I’ll dance for her again.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Chasing the big things in life is what all of us have our hearts set on. We want to reach for the stars, climb the mountains, and sail mighty ships. Our focus is always on the ‘big’ that we tend to overlook or push aside the ‘small’. But small does not mean less significant, in fact, some small actions go a long way. As we strive to achieve greatness, let’s not forget to do the small things too; lend an ear to a friend, give a child a hug, or feed a stray dog. Our small actions can make a difference, just like the small ballerina in her music box.

Most of my stories are up for interpretation, so I hope this one speaks a special message to you too. And as always, let me know what you think of it in the comments below!

© 2014 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)

 
25 Comments

Posted by on July 31, 2014 in Original Works

 

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5 Things 4,600 People Will Know About Me

5things

4,600 subscribers! It must be sub season. I realized that more people tend to subscribe to my blog towards the second half of the year. I know that sounds strange, but whether or not it’s merely a figment of my imagination, it doesn’t matter. What matters is you guys!

Thank you so much for subscribing to my blog. I hope you are enjoying your stay and not regretting it already 😛 I promise to always try my best and continue to make this blog a place where we both can have epic fictional escapes. No adventure is fun and exciting without you, my dear readers 🙂 So thank you for being here!

Now, since my last few ‘thank you’ posts have been about updates and my latest books, I thought I should write about myself in this one. Here goes!

5 things most people, including friends, don’t know about me:

#1 I love old architecture. I love ruins, abandoned mansions and castles. Why? Aside from the beauty of it, I like imagining the history of the place. What could have possibly taken place here? What stories do these empty halls hold? My imagination takes me back in time and seeing these places becomes an adventure.

#2 I love museums, for the very same reason as #1. I like to wonder who the owner of the old pistol was, why is there a missing piece to the scroll, and where is the key to the locked, rusted chest. There’s probably a story behind every item and a museum is full of them. That’s why I’m not picky with museums; I visited the National Islamic Arts Museum during a high school trip many years ago, and I did not complain. Old things intrigue me.

#3 I love to explore. Yes, I’m an introvert and asking me to hang out might be a challenge, but if you propose an exploration, I would go. I love exploring places, old abandoned places preferably. If I’m on vacation in a little foreign town, I like walking around just to see what the place has. Something about discovering makes me excited. I also don’t mind doing it alone, me being an introvert and all, but if I could take one other person with me it would be fun.

#4 I love toy shops, big toy shops. Some weekends, I would enter Toys‘R’us just to look at toys. I don’t buy any when I leave, but I just like looking at them and imagining owning them… because toys are very expensive these days. It’s not like I was deprived of toys when I was kid, I just love toys in general. My inner child has never left me and I’m not afraid to admit it. I can’t wait to have kids one day, so I would have the excuse to buy and play toys.

#5 I love my imagination. It not only gives me a chance to go on an adventure while in museums and ruins, but it is also the simplest form of entertainment for me. If I’m bored, I could simply stare into space and go on an adventure in my head. It takes me places, to magical lands not of this world all the way to dreams of what my future would be like. Imagining meeting my favourite actors and being a member of the X-Men are just some of the places my imagination has taken me. I never had imaginary friends though… strange.

So, does any of these describe you too? If we do share some things in common, be sure to let me know in the comments below! I like getting to know you guys as well 🙂

I guess that is all for this post! Thanks once again, and stay awesome people!

+~+~+~+

*Current blog post schedule: A post every Thursday alternating between an original short story and a Harry Potter fan fic novel.

**Download The Battle For Oz: Exitium for free here!

 
24 Comments

Posted by on June 20, 2014 in Others

 

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In The Between

in the between

“Let’s play a game.”

Those were the four words that started it all. It was not a brain game of chess or a tickling game of twister, it was something I wish I never played.

“It’s simple.”

“How simple?” I asked sceptically.

Greg was an old friend who had a doctorate certificate hanging in his bedroom and a strange concept of games.

“We will see who can stay in the between for the longest.”

“Speak English, Greg,” my other friend said.

“You know the moment when you’re about to fall asleep? The moment when your mind gets clouded with strange thoughts that overlap and make no sense? The moment when your memory fails you even though you still have some control over your consciousness? That’s in the between.”

“I bet you made that up,” I said with a chuckle.

“The term, yes. I just thought it sounded cool,” Greg replied.

“Right, so how do we stay in the between? It’s not like we can stop ourselves from falling asleep,” my other friend asked.

“I have these things that would keep your brain active,” Greg said, as he placed two little round patches on his temples. “Don’t worry, they simply send magnetic pulses periodically to stop your brain from resting.”

My other friend picked up the wireless patches and examined them before asking, “So what does the winner get?”

“Bragging rights.”

I laughed and shook my head. It was stupid but the game sounded interesting.

“Fine, whatever,” I said.

Taking the patches and placing them on my temples, I followed after Greg as he lied down and shut his eyes. I didn’t expect it to work so quickly but that Friday was a busy day for me, and my body accepted rest almost immediately.

As my mind drifted in and out of different thoughts, I found myself questioning everything in my head. But as I tried to find the answers, I ended up forgetting the questions instead. It was odd just to be lingering in the between, and when I finally stopped I felt even more tired than I was before.

“Not bad,” my other friend said.

When my eyes opened, I found Greg with his eyes shut while my other friend chomping down a bag of chips.

“Enjoying the show? When did you stop?” I asked.

Just as I did, Greg opened his eyes and stared at the two of us. It took him awhile to fully get his brain aligned with consciousness, and when he finally did he asked, “How long have you two been up? Can’t believe you guys started the fun without me.”

“Your idea of fun is not fun,” my other friend said.

I nodded in agreement and checked my watch. When I saw that it was almost 7 a.m., I was rather shocked. I was in the between for eight hours but it felt like minutes. After that, I excused myself and was called a party pooper.

Exhaustion was heavy on my shoulders and I desperately needed sleep. So by the time I entered my apartment, I was ready to hit the sack. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and all I wanted to do was sleep, sleep without dreams and without interruptions. Unfortunately, I had none.

My bed was cosy, the curtains were drawn, and a soft relaxing melody was playing from the speakers. I would have fallen straight into a deep slumber any other day, but that morning I was stuck… stuck in the between.

I drifted in and out of thoughts, memories, and ideas but could not slip away from them. When I gave up trying and opened my eyes, my room was already dark. I checked my temples to see if the patches were still there, but from my memory I knew they weren’t. Something was not right and I called up Greg immediately.

“I can’t sleep. Your little game messed with my brain,” I said the moment Greg answered the call.

“What do you mean? I just took a nap and my brain rested fine.”

“Your brain is fine, but mine is not! I can’t sleep, I’ve been trying but I can’t,” I replied with a hint of exasperation.

“Calm down, alright. Try to sleep tonight, and if you can’t, give me a call tomorrow. I’ll come over,” Greg said.

I accepted his answer and decided to give it another shot. Maybe it was a temporary side affect? After fixing myself dinner, I took a shower and headed straight to bed. I also popped a sleeping pill just in case.  But as my head hit the pillow and my thoughts began drifting, it happened again.

I was semi-conscious in my head and I continued to stay that way. I tried to empty my mind, but every time I tried more voices and images appeared instead. I was stuck… stuck in the between.

When morning came, I rang Greg up and told him I could not sleep. He said he would come over after he ran some errands at his office, but I could not wait. So I headed to his office as quickly as I could.

By the time I reached the hospital, I jogged to Greg’s office and burst in with the words lingering in my head. “I can’t sleep, Greg. What am I doing wrong? What did you do to me?”

I sounded unlike myself, the calm and collected self I had pride in. Sleep depravation had a strange affect on me and I had no idea why.

“What am I doing wrong?!” I demanded, just as Greg asked his colleague to excuse him.

“It’s not what you’re doing wrong,” Greg quickly said as he pulled me to a corner.

“What? What are you talking about?”

“You shouldn’t be doing anything,” Greg answered.

“You make no sense!” I shouted.

Greg reached for my shoulders and began shaking me back and forth. I angrily attempted to push his hands away but I failed. Moments later, I found myself lying on a bed.

“Are you alright?” Greg asked.

Greg was hovering above me with his hands on my shoulders.

“You were yelling. You must have fallen asleep,” Greg said.

I slowly sat up and gave him a questioning look.

“I’m sorry. These patches aren’t ready. Lunch is on me, alright? Thanks for being my lab rat,” Greg said with a chuckle.

When he turned his back on me, I saw my reflection in a glass panel and immediately remembered where I was. I was in Greg’s lab helping him test out a new device. And though I could not remember what the device was for, I could remember my ‘dream’. It felt so real and I was glad it was over.

That day, I told myself to never again dwell in the between. No one was meant to stay in it. Yet somehow, I knew I would be drawn to it again. Hopefully… not any day soon.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Strange story, I know. It makes no sense. So let me tell you what inspired this.

In the between is actually a human emotion we have all experienced; the unsettling feeling of worry. When we worry, we place ourselves in a world where our minds are filled with questions we have no answers to. This world stops us from getting rest and leaves us wondering what we did wrong. We are distracted by it and we start acting like a different person. Worry is a place between reality and imagination, but a place that cripples us the moment we are stuck in it. To get out of worry is to simply do nothing, because in reality there is nothing to be done in situations we cannot control.

I decided to write about worry because recently I was worrying. I suffered the same effects until I decided to let it go, and my latest post on my personal blog helped me deal with that issue. So if you’re worrying about something, stop! It’s a waste of time and energy.

Anyway, let me know what you think of this story in the comments below! Don’t worry, I love hearing your thoughts no matter what they are 🙂

© 2014 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)

 
23 Comments

Posted by on April 10, 2014 in Original Works

 

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This is Sparta

Golden plated swords, eagle emblazoned shields, armor molded from the finest steels, and 300 warriors ready to face the beast.

It was a fire breathing, black, skeletal winged dragon, with scales that no ordinary sword could penetrate. Its eyes were as red as the blood of the lives it had stolen. But the 300 remained still, not a hint of fear present as they faced the beast that wanted to destroy everything they protected and preserved since they were born.

As it flapped its huge wings and let out a screech, a gust of wind nearly stumbled a young one over.

“You stand before me, thinking you could defeat me? I have stolen so many lives, but I would spare your’s today if you would give it up,” the beast said, in a nasty deep voice.

“Give up our gems we will not!” the young one replied.

The beast laughed falsely. “You would rather die than give up your gem?”

“I’d rather kill you than give up my gem,” the young one corrected and the beast chuckled.

“You? Kill me? You are barely a warrior!”

“Let’s stop the chit chat shall we?” the young one boldly spoke.

“Fine!” the beast roared as he breathed down large flames of blue upon the 300 warriors.

As the beast landed before them, it clawed with its giant talons, swung its wings at the warriors, and didnt spare them from his flaming breath.

But not one warrior fled as they charged and jabbed their swords at it, leading it to a trap they have previously set up.

As it fought the minute warriors, in comparison to its size, it didnt realize it was following their path and with one footing, its legs fell into separate pits of sharpened wood.

Screeching, the beast tried to free itself, but the pits were too deep, and the more it struggled, the more rooted it became.

With the distraction of the many warriors, as they tried to pin it down, the young one jumped onto the back of the beast and drove the golden plated sword through its skull and into its brain. With one last screech, the dragon fell flat on the ground, dead.

The warriors cheered at their victory. The beast was constantly out to steal their gems, but it would never do so again.

These gems were their imagination, it was the key to fantasy. And they protected it.

When I see 300 people willing to not give up on their childhood fantasies and imaginations, I see 300 warriors slaying dragons, rescuing maidens and battling krakens. It is the world of which we may not live in, but a world of which we could always escape in to.

This story was merely to give tribute to the 300 subscribers who still hold on to their gift of imagination. Also not forgetting to thank you guys for your support by constantly reading my stories 🙂 You guys rock!

Oh, and a reminder, you can get my e-book at only USD3 for the month of December! You can support me and help me take another step closer to my dreams by getting a copy for yourself, reading it, and then giving me feedback! Email me at jeynalsc@gmail.com if you would like to purchase one. This would definitely help me keep my writing going!

Once again, to those 300 brave warriors who slayed the beast of busyness, work and stress just to keep your imaginations alive, thank you for your support! I wouldn’t have continued writing if I didn’t have 300 subscribers as moral support 🙂

 
8 Comments

Posted by on December 10, 2011 in Others

 

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