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Being The Best Writer

Before I begin, I want you to know that you can now grab a paperback copy of The Battle for Oz on Amazon at only $8.33. If you’ve not read my book, here’s a chance to do so at a 50% discount! Buying this book will support my authoring career, allowing me to write more stories for you. So visit HERE to grab your copy today!

So, back to the topic at hand: being the best writer.

If you’ve ever wondered how you can be the best writer, wonder no more. Here are 3 things you can do to be the best writer ever! Trust me, it works.

1. Stop Caring

This is applicable in life as it is in writing. If you want to be the best writer, you have to stop caring about what others think of you. You have to stop entertaining passing judgements. You have to accept, that as a writer, you cannot please everyone. You are you. Seeking the approval of someone who doesn’t like your work simply holds you back from moving forward. And dwelling upon a dislike only makes you self-conscious. This self-consciousness can mold an opinion into truth – which is not the truth. So stop caring about the world’s perception. Perceptions aren’t reality.

2. Find Your Purpose

Why do you write? Do you know that knowing why you write makes you more self-aware? We all have a purpose in life, and we all certainly have a purpose in writing. Knowing our purpose helps us stay true to ourselves. It drives our passion, it reflects our identity, and it reminds us to be us. Whether you write to inspire, to be read, or to share, our writing comes from a meaningful place. These meaningful, purpose-filled words make us unique. And these same words express our uniqueness.

Yes, I believe we’re all special snowflakes. As derogatory as some like to use the term, it’s the truth. There’s no one like you, and knowing who you are makes you a better writer.

3. Endeavour To Improve

If all this while you thought I was writing about being the best writer in the world, let me clarify now: you cannot be the best writer in this world. There’s a sea of writers, honing distinct voices, that it’s impossible to benchmark this skill and talent. So perhaps the better title for this post would be: Being The Best Writer You Can Be. And the only way to be the best writer you can be ever (!) is by endeavouring to improve in your craft.

Writing is a life long journey. When you choose to become a writer – out of passion – you choose to do this for as long as you live. You may not be ‘the best writer you can be’ today, but the more time and effort you put into improving yourself, you will be ‘the best writer you can be’ one day.

“Ah, well Jeyna, I know all this,” you say.

Well, so do I. I’ve said this before in my previous posts. And though I’ve not specifically written a post about it, I’ve repeated myself like a broken record. However, I publish this post today with a single goal: I want to remind, both you and myself, that we can be great writers by staying true to ourselves.

We don’t have to change to fit into a best-seller mold. We don’t need to repurpose our dreams to be accepted by readers. We just have to strive to be the best we can be. And, let’s not just practice this in writing but in life too. Because the only time we experience life at its fullest is when we experience life as ourselves.

(Not-so-random plug; I recently launched my fitness blog over at blogspot. Besides writing, fitness is also a passion of mine. If you’re into it too, I’d love to have you there as well!)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 6, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Aspire To Inspire

aspiretoinspire

We all aspire to inspire. But how much are we willing to give to be an inspiration?

In the past 3 months, during the Geek & Sundry fantasy contest, I’ve learned that inspiring others requires a whole lot more than just being me. Yes, being me is the start. And doing what I think I do best – writing – is good too. But being me and writing stories have its limits. If I truly want to be an inspiration, I have to give. And by giving, I mean living by example.

It’s tough to live by example. For those in the creative industry – those being watched – living by example takes a conscious effort. Heck, living by example in general, requires purposeful action. Because in reality, nobody wants to be kind on a bad day, nobody wants to be generous when finance is tight, and nobody wants to support during emotionally trying times. We’re humans after all, and our lives include both the highs and lows. So to actually live by example, we have to do more when we don’t feel like it. We have to go beyond merely existing and… give.

I personally do not think I’m a good example. I’m trying to be, though. I’m trying to care about those around me. I’m trying to be generous and lend a hand to the less privileged. I’m trying not to judge others, because I’m flawed myself. I don’t know if all of my actions are inspiring others. But I do know, that when I see comments about how my stories and my dream chasing endeavours inspire people, I don’t want those to be all I have to offer. I want to try to be a light whenever and wherever I can.

Still, I’m not perfect. Trust me, I’ve imagined knocking a helium balloon out of a child’s hand. I’ve feigned ignorance out of the unwillingness to help. I’ve laughed at people’s spelling mistakes, only to realise how I make laughable Korean mistakes myself. I’m also an introvert, so being friendly is the last thing on my mind. But if there’s any consolation, I know I’m trying . And I hope that my stories won’t just be an inspiration to you, but my life will be as well. I hope that one day, Jeyna wouldn’t just be a writer. Jeyna would be a writer who lives by example. Yes, it’s going to be tough. But… you know what? My life is a story itself. And it’s the most important story I have to tell.

Often times, we get caught up in creating that we forget the most important thing: our life stories. My life story and your life story speak more than anything we can physically create. It’s the most powerful and moving tale we will ever write. And when we aspire to inspire, we are drafting this story. Sure, there will be plenty of edits. But at the end of the day, we can give our stories a good closure. Our unique plot lines can make a difference in the lives of every reader we encounter. Unequivocally, our actions will speak louder than words. Can you believe I’ve only realised this now?

I hope that one day, I wouldn’t just be the writer that writes. I hope that one day, I would be the writer that lives. And from one creator to another, let’s write a story that no one can put down. Let’s aspire to inspire not just through creating, but living.

(*I apologise if this post reads a lot like a personal blogpost. I just couldn’t help but share what I’ve learned during the campaign of The Slave Prince. And speaking of The Slave Prince, the book won the Geek & Sundry Fantasy contest! It will receive a full publishing deal from Inkshares! Woo hoo! I’m super excited. Should you like to know more, head over to the book page and follow the book. Updates on the book’s progress will be posted there. Also, if you’ve not pre-ordered the book, you can still do so. It’s at a cheaper price now, and who knows how long it’ll stay that way.)

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 3, 2016 in Writing Journey

 

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The Gift of Life

thegiftoflife

It started with a white speck in the blue sky, guided by the cool breeze as it tumbled to the ground. It was the first sign that the season of cheer, laughter, and joy was just around the corner. It was the day of the first snowflake; the day I was lying in bed feeling sick. There was nothing physically wrong with me, but somehow my head was hurting and my stomach was rejecting whatever I put in it. In the end, I gave up trying altogether.

The year had been a rough one on me. It started off great with no worries, but then halfway through, everything turned sour. The man I planned to see the world with, build a family with, become grandparents with, became ill. His sickness was the one with no cure; the one where upon discovery, there was no more hope.

It was so sudden and so shocking that at first, I was certain the doctors were wrong. But then reality hit, and the fantasy that I had created in my head shattered; David was going to die, David is dead. There will no longer be anymore Christmases to share, no more plans to see through, no more love. A few weeks before the first snowflake, David faded away.

Everyone I knew tried to comfort me. They sent me cards, called to check in, and even offered to come over and keep me company, but I soon grew tired of it all. I appreciated their efforts, but there was nothing they could do to make me feel better. So I stopped answering the phone, the doorbell, and logged out of life completely… for as long as reality permitted.

When I finally decided it was time to return to the world, it took me a lot of effort. Even though I was in no mood to celebrate Christmas or the New Year, I was going to try and be human again. It was not easy but within a few days, I managed to get into a routine.

I would get out of bed every morning, eat something for breakfast, read a book, clean the house, try to eat something for lunch, answer my parents’ calls, watch the children across the street play in the snow, force myself to eat something for dinner, read some more, before heading to bed. Leaving the house was not part of my routine, not even to check the mail. One day, however, I heard an unexpected ding dong.

Dreading the thought of having to speak to someone, I dragged myself to the door only to find a parcel on the ground. Taking a quick look around, I hesitated to bring it in when there was no one around. Who was it from? The parcel was wrapped like a gift with a red bow on top, and the card that sat with it was addressed to me. I assumed it was a gift from a friend or a family member.

Bringing the parcel in, I briefly contemplated on waiting for Christmas day, but then I recalled not wanting to even think about Christmas and proceeded with opening it. Inside, I found an instruction card and a little pot filled with soil.

“Place the plant near a window and water it everyday. Not too much though, or it’ll drown,” I read.

That is morbid, I thought. Is this a joke?

David did not drown, but death was still a sensitive topic for me. Strangely, I decided to keep the plant despite the tasteless instruction and the lack of information on the sender.

The following day, I heard it again; the doorbell. When I went to my door, I found no one outside but a mini watering can. There was an instruction card attached to it as well, telling me to use it when watering the plant. The day after that was surprisingly the same, I found a bag of fertilizer instead of a person. It was not hard to come to a conclusion that someone was trying to help me feel better, or at least fill my day with a new activity. Honestly, it was rather fun.

Everyday was the same, with a new gift at the doorstep for the little plant. I soon became dedicated in caring for the plant, that when I saw the first leaf I jumped with joy. I was also very curious as to the person that planned the whole thing. Someone knew I was struggling and someone wanted to help me through. Their approach was so unique, but it was almost impossible to catch the ‘angel’. Then one day, it stopped.

It was a few days before Christmas and I was honestly upset. Why did this person decide to stop just before my favourite day of the year? Yes, despite not wanting to celebrate Christmas this year, it had been my favourite holiday since I was a child. If this person did it on purpose, the whole thing was a cruel joke. Angry, I decided to pretend it never happened. I still watered the plant though, because it was finally in my routine.

Little did expect, on Christmas night the doorbell rang again. Thinking it was the neighbourhood carolers, I was prepared to ask them to leave. This time however, I found my answer. Once again, there was no one at the door except for a red envelope. It seemed to me the sender was finally revealing his or her identity and I excitedly tore it open. What I found inside was a polaroid and a letter.

The polaroid was a picture of me and David from three years ago. At the base was the caption, ‘Our first Christmas together’. Reading those words, I immediately felt a lump in my throat. My hands began to tremble as I silently told myself to breathe. The picture was indeed our first Christmas together. I could remember the day so clearly, as David wanted to decorate the tree with polaroids instead of ornaments. He insisted on it and I gave in. That memory made me laugh as a tear rolled down my cheek.

Turning my attention to the letter, I began to wonder if I should give it a read. I was afraid of its contents, afraid of the memories it would bring up, but I needed to know who planned it all. Slowly unfolding it, I took a deep breath and started from the date.

25th September, 2014.

Three more months before Christmas! Are you excited? I hope you are. It won’t be an easy time, but it’s your favourite holiday of the year so you better be smiling. Smile for me right now, do it!

I forced a smile.

Good girl, I saw you.

I chuckled.

Emma, I know you’re hurting and probably still grieving, but I want you to know you’re not alone. You are never alone. Yes, I made a promise to hold your hand when you turn eighty and I’m sorry for breaking it so early, but I want you to know that I’m still with you. That’s why I prepared your gift before I left.

I don’t want your Christmas to be about my death. I want it to be about our life together. What we had was amazing! How we met over an argument on who saw the last turkey first, to the day we took a hundred polaroids to hang on our first Christmas tree as a married couple… we had a great life together, don’t you think? And yes, even though it was only a short one, it was the best years of my life. You were my best friend, my supporter, and my own personal doctor… you were everything. Your life gave ME life!

If you have not guessed by now, it’s me, David. Yes, goofy David who gave you a plant for Christmas. That plant is the last gift I can give to you and I hope it will keep you company for many years. I hope it would be there to hold your hand when you turn eighty and remind you that even though I’m not by your side, you are not alone. Provided you take good care of the plant like how you’ve taken good care of me these few years. Don’t let it die, or drown! Too soon?

I love you Emma, I always will. Promise me you’ll put up a Christmas tree next year, promise me you’ll wrap horrible gifts and sing the cheesy Christmas songs. I want you to be happy and that’s the only gift I’m asking for. Don’t let me down!

Merry Christmas, love.

Your one and only, David.

Are letters capable of making you laugh and cry at the same time? For the first time since his death, I could hear his voice; a voice that always lifted my spirit up in dark times. David did it again and it was all I needed to get back on my feet.

“Don’t worry, I won’t let the plant drown,” I whispered.

Merry Christmas, love. Thank you for the gift of life.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Let me first start by saying this is fiction. It’s not a true story. But, I believe it’s a story we can all relate to.

We have all experienced loss in our lives, whether a person, a job, a pet, or a sentimental object. You might have even lost something this year. But in this season, don’t let that stop you from looking forward. Life is a roller coaster with highs and low, with us dwelling in the lows more than the highs. So let’s change that!.

Let’s celebrate life and reflect on the good this year. And whatever bad we’ve faced, let’s have hope that the coming year would be better. Keep your head up high and aim to end the year on a positive note. You can do it! I know you can.

Anyway, it has been awhile since I’ve posted short stories on my blog. So I’m not sure how this fairs, but I do hope you like it 🙂 Do let me know what you think in the comments below and happy holidays!

© 2014 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)

 
26 Comments

Posted by on December 24, 2014 in Original Works

 

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Dark Skies

darkskies

The rain fell like the bursting of a dam. There was no rhythm to the heavy drops, but there was thunder to the unsynchronized falling of rain. The windows in my room vibrated softly as the strong wind pushed against them. And that made me wince.

I never liked heavy rains. They scared me. The clouds always stayed dark after a heavy downfall, and unlike a drizzle in the afternoon, the sun never came up immediately.

There is just this feeling of uncertainty and worry when it came to heavy rains. You have to be homebound and if you are on the road, you can barely see. If you are walking with an umbrella, you know you are in a battle to stay dry as the wind sends your only protection scrunching.

Nobody would dance in such a rain. No one would leave the windows open for the wind. Not a single person would leave their house, and plans were better off cancelled.

I say all these as I have experienced them. But unfortunately, this heavy rain might be my last. It fitted the feelings I have right now; the cold, foreboding, and unstable situation that rested on my shoulders. Not once have I related so well to the weather than right now.

The dark sky, almost like the night sky, was the epitome of fear. Don’t believe me? Lie on your bed, look out your window, and don’t fall asleep. Watch the trees fight the wind, hear the wind chimes clash in loud cries, and feel the cold seeping into your skin. Are you afraid now?

I’m sure we all have experienced fear before. Fear alike the heavy rain, but much more real. These experiences are never easy to forget.

I, myself, remember my first encounter with fear. I was seven. I was at the swimming pool and my float was too big for me. Slipping through the hole and sinking, while my ears muffled the world around me, was a strange and scary feeling. I remember the cold water, the crushing in my chest, and my desperate fight to survive. I remember not dying, but fear still won. I never swam again.

Another encounter I had with fear was my final exam in university. I studied all I could but when the paper sat right in front of me, my mind went blank. The cold examination room, the loud ticking of the clock, and the words my mind could not wrap around, made me scared. I did not fail, but fear still won. I’m constantly struggling to believe in myself and I don’t know why.

Thinking back, my university encounter was not even up to par with my most recent one. A couple of years ago, I lost my job and I struggled to find a new one. Everyone shut their doors and there was not even a window to peep through. The sight of my bills terrified me, the sound of rejection resonated within me, and the nights where the chills of reality greeted me, made me want to run and hide under my bed. I was like a child, afraid of the bogeyman that was out to get me. Thankfully I did not go bankrupt, but fear still won. I have never been more worried about my future since then.

Honestly, after I got through that mess, I thought I had seen all the faces of fear. Of course I was wrong. I was wrong not because I’ve not experienced them all, but because I don’t know the fear I was about to face.

When it came, it hit me so hard that my hands shook, my insides bubbled, and my head started to spin. Was I afraid of death or was I afraid of uncertainty? What was my fear? I never had the answers.

Today, I laid in my bed staring at the rain. Chills ran down my spine as the beeping of the monitor grew louder and louder. I was hoping for the rain to stop, and for the dark sky to clear up, but it looked like it would not do so anytime soon. I was hoping for a glimpse of a rainbow, or a hint of hope, but the world was refusing to calm my soul.

I was not ready for what I had to face. I was scared, fearful, terrified, and paralyzed. Where was my courage? I wondered silently.

Briefly pulling my eyes away from the madness outside, I turned to stare at the ceiling. I found my eyes fixated on the ceiling light; the light that was so… stable. There was no flicker when the clouds thundered, and it kept my darkened room lit.

It was then that I realized something. There was a way to beat fear… and that, was hope. You don’t need a sign to have hope, you just need to believe there is hope. Even in the darkest places, there would be light. The strong stable glare of warmth is not shaken by the cold winds and tremors.

Hope was a powerful weapon, one that could defeat the daggers of fear. And for once in my life, I actually tried to let hope breathe. I did not have much of a choice anyway, as my future was uncertain. But with a little hope, I know I stand a chance, however small it was.

It’s true, they say, fear cripples. I have been crippled in different areas of my life unable to truly live it. And now, I’m about to go through an operation where my chance of survival is the same as my chance of death. But even so, I have decided not to let fear rob my last conscious thought.

When my doctor finally came in to see me, I took one last look at the world outside my window. This time, I was full of hope to see the clear blue skies again.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

This short story is self explanatory and the question it raises is simple. Are you living in fear? Was there an event or a situation that has crippled you? If so, it’s time to let a little hope breathe.

No matter what you are afraid of, rejection, disappointment, loss, hardships, and even death, remember that hope is always there. You just have to see it and acknowledge its presence. Finding the light in darkness is not easy, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any. Sometimes it takes faith, other times it takes courage, but believing there is hope changes the way you look at things. When you see things in a different light, it’s no longer the end of the world.

I know this story is pretty simple, without strange analogies like my previous ones, but I hope it conveyed the message well enough. So, do let me know what you think of it in the comments below!

© 2013 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)

 
15 Comments

Posted by on October 17, 2013 in Original Works

 

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What If… I Nailed That Audition

what if

Around the age of 7 or 8, I did my first TV advertisement. It is nothing to really boast about as it was just me sitting on a merry-go-round and waving happily at the camera. But even though it was no big deal, it flipped a happy switch in my brain and I really wanted to do it again.

So, after that advertisement I went for another audition. This was a children’s milk ad that required me to do a little more acting. I remember being extremely nervous, but I gave it my best and soon forgotten I even auditioned. I was just a fickle minded kid after all.

A few days later, my mother told me I got the part. I was so excited as I have always wanted to be an actress, and now my dream was sort of coming true! When I got the simple script, I ran lines with my baby brother and practiced in front of the mirror. All of that excessive preparation eventually paid off when the day of the shoot arrived.

It was such an easy role, yet I felt like I had accomplished something big. And honestly, I did. Ever since that little role, I have gone for countless auditions and secured a role in most of them. I went from food advertisements to public service announcements and eventually TV dramas.

I was a child actor, playing small roles yet having tons of fun. But the fun soon became work when the film industry started picking up in my country. I began acting in a couple of films in my teenage years, and after a while I decided to move to the greener film industry in Singapore.

Stopping high school altogether, I went to my neighbouring country for a couple of auditions. When I landed a role, I stayed with my aunt and did not return home till the film was a wrap. After my first film received high ratings in both my country and Singapore, I was called for radio and newspaper interviews. Yes, I was rather famous.

But my acting career did not stop there. When my name started floating around, I was called for different auditions for different TV dramas and films. I was so busy that I rarely went home and I only saw my family once a month. Of course, I talked to them over the phone but I ended up spending more time with my extended family than my immediate family. It’s strange, I know.

After a few years in Singapore, I began contemplating of leaving. And, it didn’t take me long before I decided to go a little further. With the money I had, I travelled to different countries with the arrangement of my manager. She got me auditions in Hong Kong, China, Korea, and Japan. I picked up new languages, and surprisingly made it on screen for a few commercials and TV dramas. But soon, I got bored with the Asia scene and I told my manager to get me to Hollywood.

It was not as hard as I had expected it would be, and I did pretty well in the western world. I made a lot of ‘friends’ and contacts, but I didn’t really have anyone to connect with. I was also away from home so much that when I return for visits, my brother was like a stranger to me. Gifts couldn’t buy his affection, and it was always awkward talking to my parents.

Being I never attended high school and I was out of church when I left Malaysia, I lost contact with my childhood friends. I don’t even know where they are right now or what they are doing. Thinking about this now, I honestly really don’t know how to feel.

If I was a fan, following my career since it started, I would be so envious. I have everything; a house, a car, and money to see the world! Yet me being me, I would rather be back home with real friends and family.

I also recently realized that I enjoy writing, but work has made it impossible for me to do so. Where do I find the time to write when all I do is act? Sure, red carpets, interviews, and all the attention I once wanted was flooding in, but am I really happy?

Sometimes, I feel so tired and have an urge to escape. But somehow it never seems possible. It’s like I’m trapped without enough will power to find a way out. It has finally come to this; I don’t know if I want to be here or not.

Maybe, if I failed my audition for the milk advertisement, things would have been different. I would have probably gone to high school and university, and I would have written more. I would also have real friends and an ordinary job, but I would probably be happier.

But that is all just what if, and sadly, I will never really know.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Whether it is passing the bar exam or going to art school, each of us could have done something different and we often wonder what if we did. For me, it was that audition.

After writing this story, I personally felt that where I am today is much better than where I could have been. By writing this little ‘make belief’ story, I find myself thankful that I did not nail that audition. But, that is just me.

Do you have a pivotal moment in your life where you always look back and think ‘what if?’. Write it down and come up with a crazy story. You will either find yourself happy with life or more driven to achieve that dream life. Either way, it’s a good evaluation 🙂

© 2013 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)

 
38 Comments

Posted by on August 1, 2013 in Original Works

 

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