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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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Write To Challenge

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Over the years, I’ve come to realise that writing isn’t just writing. In order to become a better writer, I’ve got to do more than writing.

You see, writing isn’t just about writing my niche genre, building familiar worlds, and creating characters I can relate to. Yes, it’s good to have a label under my name. And it’s natural for me to keep building it – heck, I should build it. I should master the art of my choice. But in order to become a stronger writer, I have to expand. I have to grow. Just like a kingdom, once established doesn’t remain stagnant, I need to push the boundaries of my world. But… how do I do that? Do I change my writing style and publish novels in different genres? No, I don’t. I simply experience – experience what I’ve never experienced.

To grow as a writer, I need to write beyond the comforts of my pigeonhole. I need to write outside of what I’m accustomed to. It will make me extremely uncomfortable, yes. I will struggle to convey my thoughts. And potentially, I’ll create disastrous pieces. But in order for me to become better, I need to take the leap of faith. I need to explore the vast universe and adapt to its varying nature. I may not be a master of all realms, but I have to experience them. And who knows? I might just write a decent piece.

There’s a reason why writing challenges and writing prompts exist. They don’t merely serve as a filler for when you don’t know what to write. These challenges, as they are called, challenge a writer to write something different. Despite not being good at a particular genre, world, or character, taking the challenge helps one get better. It is the stepping outside of a comfort zone that carves a writer. It is the embracing of something new that broadens the mind.

Personally, I’ve endeavoured to write in other genres, embrace different worlds, and toy with characters. I’ve written and will continue to write sci-fi, romance, mystery, and other genres outside of fantasy. I’ll mould different worlds with different cultures, beliefs, and eras. And I’ll create protagonists whom I’ll dislike more than the antagonist itself. Even if I don’t excel in these challenges – even if I don’t write novels through them – I’ll write anyway. I’ll write to challenge. I’ll write to challenge myself, my imagination, my skill, and my potential. I’ll write to challenge, because I know it has helped me in many ways. And I’ll write to challenge you, to write to challenge too.

I’m not just saying this on a whim. Through past experiences, I’ve grown from the challenges I put upon myself. From Dr. Slubgob’s Letters, a novella about a demon and his quest for the truth, to The Clubhouse, a blog series with characters I disassociate from; I’ve learned to construct deeper worlds and fuller personas. I’m still not good in either arenas – I don’t think I’ll ever master them. But, I have improved. And with a long way to go in my writing journey, I’ll continue to challenge myself.

This 2017, my writing goal is simple: write to challenge. As this year revs its engine, I encourage you to adopt this goal too. In fact, I encourage you to adopt this goal in general. It isn’t just for writing, but for anything – for areas you want to see growth. And If you stick through it, no matter the obstacles, you’ll come out a finer jewel than before.

Also, it can be quite fun.

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Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Aspire To Inspire

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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.)

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2016 in Writing Journey

 

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Be A Protector

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‘Protector: a person in charge of the kingdom during the sovereign’s minority, incapacity, or absence.’ – English history.

I’ve thought about this. I’ve thought about this long and hard. And I’ve decided.

Now, I’m not loaded. I don’t have an overflowing bank account. But after seeing your generosity in supporting my dream, I’m inspired to pay it forward. You showed me what it means to give selflessly, and I want to do the same thing too.

No, this isn’t about a giveaway. Though, there are a couple more to come this month and they’ll be announced on Facebook.

So, what am I talking about? I’m talking about… slavery. I’m no expert on this issue, but I’m aware of its existence. I’m aware that it has ruined lives. And if there’s one cause I want to stand by, it is this: the fight against modern day slavery

There are approximately 36 million slaves in the world today. 50% are minors. And if you have $90, you can actually buy yourself one. This makes me angry. Children have been robbed of their childhood. People have been robbed of their rights. Families are torn apart. And for these individuals, living is meaningless.

I know… I am no Thom. I’m not a prince with a calling to save his people. I don’t have a magical aid. But I want to do something if I can. Hence, I’ve decided to give RM2 for every reader that pre-orders The Slave Prince to Change Your World.

Change Your World is a movement I’ve believed in for many years. Based in Malaysia, it exists to create opportunities and platforms for the young generation to ‘Save Lives’ through their creativity. This is as creative as I can get – telling stories. And if I can use my stories to stand for justice, then I should do it.

So, if you’d like to fight alongside me in this cause, pre-order a copy of The Slave Prince. I can only match two ringgit to a reader. But if you think it’s too little, forget ordering my book, reach out to Change Your World and support them. Saving lives is far more important.

For all those who’ve been eyeing the Geek & Sundry contest, there’s a month left. If you’d love to see my book hit the bookstores, please grab a copy at your earliest convenience. It only takes 5 minutes to help this dreamer – only 5 minutes to change a life. And if you stand by me, winning a publishing deal would be a walk in the park.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2016 in Others

 

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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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