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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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Posted by on May 4, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Write To Challenge

writetochallenge

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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Espionage

espionageThere I was, arm stretched out with a loaded pistol in my hand. My eyes were on target and I simply had to pull the trigger to end it all. But at that very moment, I waited.

“Why are you doing this?” he asked. No, he demanded.

I remained silent to his angry question, not because I did not know what to say but because I was not sure if my answer was acceptable.

“Are you going to shoot me now? Your childhood friend?!” he demanded. His words were fuelled with a concoction of pain and hatred put together by my betrayal.

“Answer me dammit! Have you grown mute?”

As I stared him straight in the eye, with the coldest expression on my face, I saw him break. His eyes were watering and the hand he held his pistol with began to shake. He was not doing this to himself, I was.

Since the day I said ‘yes’ to the other side, I cut off all ties to the life I had. My friends were no longer my friends, my family was no longer my family, and the organization I worked for was now the one I betrayed. No, I was not forced. It might seem so but there was no gun pointing at my head when I joined the other side. I made the decision and I’ve stuck with it for years.

When he asked me why I decided to switch sides and turn on everyone I once loved, I wanted to tell him it was because it felt right. There was money, protection, and a whole lot of other promises, but the only reason why I flipped was because it felt right. I felt as though it was the normal choice to make, and somehow they managed to convince me that I was fighting for the wrong cause all along.

“Was it worth it?” he asked, this time in exasperation. He seemed tired and he dropped his hand to his side.

I don’t know, I silently said.

“Seeing you right now, it’s like you have been brainwashed. Are you just going to do what they tell you to do? You have a choice, man. You can stop it all and come back with me. Please just come back with me,” he pleaded, as his body language indicated he was letting his guard down.

He was easing up, but I was far from it. Even though my arm was growing tired, I still held it straight. One shot was all I needed to end the night. I had a disc in my other hand full of information I needed to take down my former employer, and I just wanted to get it over with.

“I have a choice,” I said.

“Yes, you do!” he quickly replied, thinking he had successfully convinced me.

 “I choose this,” I said.

“What?” he asked, unable to believe his ears.

“You heard me,” I simply replied.

He laughed. It was a laugh of disbelief; short, strained and false. The kind of laugh that marked the end of a long and faithful friendship. As though the world could sense it too, the night sky acknowledged our broken ties and grumbled softly.

When his laugh faded, there was a brief moment of silence between us, but I waited. I gave him time to come to terms with my betrayal. That was the least I could do for him, in fact the last thing I could ever do for him. When he finally accepted that I was a lost cause, he shook his head, wiped his eyes and then lifted his pistol again. His arm was firm and his eyes locked on mine. At that very moment, we were a mirror image of each another.

“This is it then. You’re going to kill me,” he said. Anger, pain, and disbelief had left his voice.

“I don’t have to if you get out of my way,” I replied. I didn’t want to kill him, but if he insisted on making things hard I would not hesitate to shoot.

“I’m not moving. You have to shoot me,” he boldly stated.

Fine, I said to myself. A millisecond after that, a bullet shot out of my pistol and whizzed through the cold night air. He did not see it coming and his reflexes could not dodge the bullet that went straight for his head. Before the clock could tick another second, the bullet hit its target and sent it shattering into pieces.

It was a loud shatter as the mirror crashed to the ground. The tiny motel floor was now scattered with glass shards. As I remained seated, I stared at where the standing mirror once stood. I silently told myself he was gone, and that side of me was never going to stand in my way again.

Knowing that the gunshot would send people to my room, I pushed him out of my head and quickly got to my feet, tucking my pistol into its holster as I did. Without wasting anymore time, I grabbed my belongings and the disc before climbing out the back window.

Now all I needed to do was make a call and drop the coveted information off. I made my decision that night, I was not forced into it… it was my choice.

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There will be a time in our lives where we choose a side; the side that seems right and the side that reflects our hearts. And when that time comes, will we go for the side that tells us what to do and what we should believe in, or will we stay true to the person we grew up with?

Often times, we find it hard to go against the grain and be ourselves, so we choose to act and behave a certain way just to fit in with the majority. But every time we do that, we betray ourselves. We are taking what we know about ourselves and handing it over to the world, where the world can use it to judge and conform us. Yes, it might seem right and the most common choice, but is loosing yourself in the process really worth it? No one is forcing you in this decision, so choose wisely.

Anyway, I hope you guys liked this story 🙂 Do let me know what you think of it in the comments below!

© 2014 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Original Works

 

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