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How To Master Perseverance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by on September 20, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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3 Months Ago, I Became A ‘Hot Shot’ [#TRUESTORY]

This story begins three months ago—on June 1st—when I was offered a spot in the ‘Hot Shots’ campaign.

The ‘Hot Shots’ campaign is organized by CLEO magazine, where ‘every year, we select 30 successful women across industries to speak of their success, background, and how they’re reshaping the landscape of their industries.’ I know this might sound surprising, but when I read the offer, I hesitated. Yes, I actually hesitated. I asked my mum and my colleagues if I should go for it. And only when they said, ‘Yes! Of course!” I said, “Yes,” myself. Strange, I know.

Now, despite saying ‘yes’, I didn’t actually announce the nomination—I didn’t tell anyone but those who already knew. Why? Because I wasn’t sure if it was truly going to happen. I doubted. I didn’t think I was ‘Hot Shot’ worthy, and I thought CLEO might change their mind. So before CLEO sent me the official email, with my photoshoot and interview date, I kept the news to myself. Pretty understandable, right?

My photoshoot and interview date was June 12th. At 10.30 a.m. that day, I hopped on a Grab and headed to a hotel in Kuala Lumpur. The entirety of the experience was foreign to me. And upon my return home, I wrote a Facebook post summarising the event.

On August 1st, CLEO’s ‘Hot Shots’ issue hit the shelves. Firstly, let me just say, I’m not a fan of my picture. It wasn’t me. But CLEO is a fashion and lifestyle magazine, so what most people are generally used to is not something you would see on such a publication. That being said, after flipping past my profile, I started to read about the other 29 women. And, only then, I realised that being a ‘hot shot’ didn’t necessarily mean being a millionaire—a hot shot could be anyone who is doing what they love and making a change through their works regardless of the magnitude of their success. So hey, maybe I am worthy of being called a ‘Hot Shot’ after all (nope, still doubting).

This proves how nobody knew Clark Kent was Superman.

Then, August 21st rolled around and CLEO posted my full interview—both video and written—on their website and social media. As I’m not a fan of seeing myself in action, I cringed a little watching myself in the video interview. But I’m glad… no, I’m relieved… that I shared from the heart. There was no pretending. My words were true—if you’ve been following me for a while, you know they are. The only thing that wasn’t true to Jeyna was the makeup, which made me seem a little intimidating.

A couple of days after my profile went live, I went for a CLEO high-tea event. It was a weekday, so I had to take a half day off work. It was one of the most awkward experiences in my life. Remember when I blogged about ‘How To Balance Passion & Work’, where I mentioned about how I dislike networking? Well, which introvert actually enjoys networking? I was completely out of
my element! If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw the instastories. But if you don’t, here’s the status update on my personal Facebook account summarizing the whole 2 hours.

“Thursday, 5 p.m: Currently on my way home from the CLEO event—it’s safe to say that this is my first ‘networking’ event, so I guess it’s understandable to act and feel extremely awkward. But hey, at least I managed to strike up a conversation with a 20-year-old MMA fighter, her manager, and a singer signed under Yuna’s record label. Also, I got a free cookie and a makeup set from Wet & Wild. Overall, I’m glad I did something completely outside of my comfort zone. But next time, can I not go alone? Can I have a plus one please?”

It’s safe to say that I will remember this entire experience for a lifetime. I never imagined being recognised for my work on such a scale. Though I’m still a long way off from living the dream, the past few months introduced me to a world I didn’t know I could be a part of. So I’m grateful, tremendously grateful, for the opportunity. I’m glad, despite the fear of unfamiliar environments, that I stepped out of my comfort zone. And, if nothing more comes my way, I’ll continue to celebrate this moment. Because through it, I have bravely traversed uncharted territory and I’m now more than ready to sail into the unknown… again.

Try not to cringe! You can watch the video interview below and read the written interview HERE!

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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The 3 Kinds Of Stories You Should Tell

Stories are powerful. They have the ability to motivate, inspire, and drive people into action. Whether they are works of fiction or factual accounts, stories can impact and change lives. They are more than just forms of entertainment. They are not just updates on what’s happening around us and across our borders. Stories can and will change the world. So why then are we not harnessing its power? Why are we not telling stories that matter? Why are we holding back—afraid to tell the stories we own?

Whether fact or fiction—written or spoken—stories should be told. It doesn’t matter how exciting or how uneventful they may be. Every story has the potential to leave a mark—an imprint in the world and the lives within it. So if you’re not telling stories—withholding your tales–it is time you do. Don’t worry, you don’t have to write a novel. You most certainly don’t need to take up a course in journalism. You can simply start with these three kinds of stories in any form you’re comfortable with—the three kinds of stories that can make a difference.

#1 Stories That Make People THINK

This is my favourite kind of story as I love thinking. Whether its an article that brings up a question on ethics, a tale from Sherlock Holmes that has me wondering about the culprit, or a personal account that requires a solution, every story that makes me think allows me to examine my own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and goals. It creates the opportunity for introspection—the chance to understand myself better, to find reason and meaning, and to choose who I want to become.

The fact that I like this kind of stories reflect in the kind of stories I tell. Some of my fictional works and personal sharings are open-ended and without conclusion. Why? Because I like giving my readers an opportunity to stretch their creative muscles—to imagine beyond my words and to determine an answer that is uniquely theirs. You see, nobody can tell you how to think. But a story that makes you think… has the power to change and shape your thoughts.

#2 Stories That Are TRUE

True stories are based on experience. Stories that are written from experience will resonate with anyone and everyone who has undergone the same. The fastest way to connect with anyone is to share something personal. And the easiest way to help someone is to share an experience—a journey you took and how you survived, or a journey you’re on and how you’re surviving.

With true stories, you don’t need a perfect ending. True stories can be incomplete—unfinished. Sometimes, people just need to know they’re not alone. It’s not about the answer you can provide, but the understanding you have to offer. Such stories can bridge gaps, give hope, fan passion, push boundaries, and inspire lives. They speak directly to the heart—the very thing that makes us human.

#3 Stories That Serve A PURPOSE

One of the most powerful stories you can tell is a story with a purpose—a story with a personal reason. Why? Because—though not wrong—a story without a purpose often falls short. It doesn’t leave an impact. And it falls short mainly because your audience can tell. They know when you’re creating for the sake of creating—it is content churned out for the sake of having content. Your audience can sense that, especially if they’ve been following you for awhile.

I’ll be honest, I have written stories for the sake of fulfilling promises. And when I publish these stories, I’ve noticed that my readers aren’t as engaged as when they read stories that were written with a reason. I don’t blame them for being disconnected—I was disconnected myself. But if I truly want a story to be impactful, it has to be told with a reason. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with stories without a purpose. The question is, is that the only kind of stories that you want to tell?

I believe that everyone has more than one story within them—more than one story that can influence and shape the world around them. You may not see the ripples or feel the reverb of your tales, but the moment you tell them, you’ve left an imprint somewhere, somehow, and in someone. So start telling stories that can make a difference. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to be vulnerable, and to strive for a purpose. Start wielding the power that is already in your hands—the power that resides within you.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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How To Balance Passion & Work

One of the biggest, and probably most difficult, decision we have to make in life is the choice between surviving and pursuing our passion. Which is more important—doing the things that we love at a cost or work to pay the bills and perhaps live a more comfortable life? It always seems to be one or the other. And, we often believe that those who get to do what they love and make a living from it are the blessed minority. But here’s what I’ve come to realised… there’s actually a way to do both. It won’t require much except for a little courage and a change in mindset.

Let’s start with our mindset. As passionate individuals, we often want to live our passion—solely our passion—nothing more, nothing less. We have the biggest dreams and the wildest goals. We aim for the stars. And, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s something we should keep doing. Heck I do it all the time and perhaps too often. But, if all we strive for is what we idealise—refusing to try anything new—our dreams will remain as dreams.

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve spent way too many years focused on the dream of becoming a full-time author. It has been all I’ve ever wanted that it tunneled my vision—building walls around my other abilities. Because that dream was my sole focus, I shied away from trying new things, exploring new industries, and stepping outside of my comfort zone in fear of ‘jeopardizing’ my dream. But, after a few uncomfortable experiences, I started to see what the world had to offer. I found opportunities that could actually help me achieve my dreams. Yes, they may not be about writing or directly related to my passion, but they can and will bring me one step closer toward being a better writer as a whole. I still want to be a full-time author, but I’ve chosen not to box myself. I’ve made a decision—a change in mindset—to try, fail, and seize everything the world throws my way.

Now, of course, if you’re an introvert like me who has been boxed for far too long, doing something new is daunting. Choosing to embrace new environments is scary. What if you say the wrong words? What if you fail to meet expectations? As many opportunities as there are to advance yourself, there are equal or greater opportunities to fail. So, we make excuses. Despite knowing what a great stepping stone it may be, we give ourselves a reason not to do it. What a waste, isn’t it? Here’s the thing, we actually don’t need a lot of courage to break those walls. Sometimes, all we need to do… is close our eyes and say ‘yes’.

I’m a socially awkward individual who has trouble connecting and meeting new people. But I’ve learned to say ‘yes’ to social events because I know it will do me good. I still hate it—I do not like mingling—but if it’s a good opportunity to advance myself, I say ‘yes’. I may regret my decision later on—diving blindly into an unknown environment—but I say ‘yes’ first and worry about the outcome later. After all, we cannot predict what will happen in life. But I believe that every open door presents an opportunity to go further and do greater things. And with all these doors, it only takes one step—a pinch of courage—to step through them.

If you’re in this stage of your life where you’re struggling to balance between your passion and work, perhaps it’s time to be bold and break the walls you’ve built around you. The odds of you achieving your dream is higher when you do more. Confining yourself at the notion of protecting your dreams doesn’t preserve your passion. Instead, it’s hiding your gifts and abilities from the world. So be brave fellow dreamer. Start learning new things and exploring new ideas. Start challenging yourself for the sake of your awesome dream.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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Real Life Struggles Of An Author

Often times, the struggle isn’t writing a book. Often times, the struggle is being an author who needs to write a book. I don’t really have a choice–writing is a part of who I am and I just need to do it. It’s a love-hate relationship. And unfortunately, this is where the struggle begins.

If you’re an author, I’m pretty sure you can relate with some of my struggles. If you’re not, here’s an insight to the tug-of-war between me and myself. These struggles make writing both enjoyable and dreadful. Yes, I know it sounds strange. The practise of writing is often like having a sibling you fight with but still love. It’s like owning an old car that keeps breaking down but you can’t sell it off. It’s something or someone you’re stuck with for life–something or someone you don’t necessarily like being around, but you’re too attached with to let go. And thus why the struggle is real.

So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to…

#1 Wait, what’s going on? I think I forgot something. Did I spell his name correctly? Was it fourteen or fifteen feet? Which chapter was it that I mentioned her age? Why on earth didn’t I note any of these down?

#2 I’d rather stare at a wall than do any form of writing today. Heck, cleaning the house sounds so much more fun. Should I volunteer to do all the chores? Yes, yes I should– I’ll do anything but write today.

#3 This wasn’t part of the plan, but OK. I’ll just run with it. It seems to be going somewhere better. It’s not like it matters anyway–the time I spent trying to plot the whole thing. Wait, does this mean… Does a story actually write itself? Did I just…. unlock a philosophical thought that I should totally blog about?

#4 The ending is going to be so awesome. I can see it in my head. It’s so freaking cool! I’m so tempted to write it now. I just need to write another ten chapters first though. Ten… not so cool… I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing chapters.

#5 Why did I even start? Why did I think this was a good idea? Why was I so ambitious? Was I even in the right state of mind? I actually have to finish this now. I have to put another idea on hold for a story I’m no longer as passionate about as when I first started. What was I thinking?

#6 Google, ‘types of eye shapes’. Google, ‘shades of blue’. Google, ‘east Europeans’. Google, ‘name of skin colours’. Google, ‘the different parts of a merchant ship’. Google, ‘medieval commoner clothing’. Google, ‘what is ‘magic’ in Latin’. Google, ‘pariah definition’. Google, ‘best TV series to binge watch’.

#7 I’m tired. I should go to bed. But wait, why do I have this sudden urge to write? Why now–when I’m brushing my teeth? Why couldn’t this strange, uncontrollable desire come when I was bored out of my mind five hours ago? What is wrong with me? I’m going to sleep.

Indeed, the struggle is real. Out of these seven points, how many can you relate with? And, if you’re a creative of another form, do you face similar struggles? Or, are your struggles a little different?

I’d love to know the challenges you face in your craft, so list your struggles in the comment section below. Let’s share our love-hate relationship with our passion. Sometimes, admitting that it sucks–being aware that it isn’t always rainbows and sunshine–helps us to keep our end goal in sight. And that’s important–in the pursuit of our dreams, we should never lose sight of the finish line.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2018 in Original Works

 

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How About John? [12 Genre Months]

“How about John? He’s the closest to your type,” she said.

I shrugged in reply. It was almost always like this–conversations that moved from work to the possible candidates around me. And, because my type was often considered a niche, I was given the same names–encouraged to approach the same few men on a helplessly short name list.

“If you want, I know of a way I can get you and John acquainted,” she added, with a beaming smile.

Yes, I didn’t know John. But funnily enough, I knew a lot about him. Friends in common have showed me his social media profiles. They have spoken highly of him. They have shared their encounters and praised John’s admirable qualities. I wasn’t even sure if I could call John an acquaintance. I knew too much–it was as if we were actually friends.

“Nah,” I replied. My answer was always the same.

“A few of us are getting together this weekend. You should join–John will be there.”

“Nah,” I repeated. Why should I try? Based on past experiences, trying didn’t do me any good. Whenever I took steps to get to know someone new, I would quickly learn I didn’t fit their bill. It was always a waste of precious time–time I could’ve spent reading that book I bought three years ago or simply staring at a wall.

“You have to make an investment if you want something to happen, you know,” she said.

Did I actually want something to happen? Everyone made John out to be this sought after man, that I should make a move if I wanted to be noticed. But honestly, I didn’t care if he noticed me. So why did I need to get his attention? Why couldn’t he be the one seeking my attention instead?

Perhaps it wasn’t like this for John. Perhaps the gentlemen didn’t suggest names, show pictures, and offer help during their get-togethers. Perhaps it was only us ladies who tried endlessly to match-make our friends. Why did we do that? Why were we all equally guilty of making romance a key player in our happiness?

“It sounds like too much work,” I replied.

She sighed an expected sigh. It wasn’t the first time–I’ve made a lot of people sigh. They would either sigh at my lack of attempt or when I turned down a potentially good candidate.

“That’s not a priority right now,” I added.

She frowned an expected frown. It was a common response to my hypocritical statement. Despite the quest for love not being a priority in my life, it sometimes felt important–important enough to entertain suggestions and make plans. So yes, I was a hypocrite. But, not because I chose to be one. I had no reason for oscillating between genuine interest and resignation. I didn’t understand my actions and decisions in this subject matter. Was it just me? Or were we all on the same swaying boat, tossed in a storm of expectations and acceptance.

“How about Matthew?” she asked.

She wasn’t listening to me. No one listened to the boy who cried wolf. And, to prove my role in the acclaimed fable, I asked, “Who?”

“Hold on, let me show you.” She swiftly retrieved her phone from her handbag, excited to show me a new candidate. Alas, when I gazed upon his picture, I could only offer a disappointing response.

“Oh, this guy,” I replied with little enthusiasm.

“He’s almost your type.”

“Yea, but…”

“No?”

“No.”

“Seriously, it’s impossible to find someone you like.”

“I know.”

It was a blessing in disguise. If no one could fit my ideals, I could think about something else. I could spend my energy and resources on the other things that made me happy.

“How about you?” I asked. It was time to shift the conversation around–to stop dwelling on the fact that I might be single for life. Was that a happy or a sad fact? It didn’t matter. It was her turn to contemplate about her happiness. “Aaron is a nice guy,” I stated.

“He is,” she replied. “But our desires don’t align.”

“What desires? He seems like a good fit for you.”

“He wants a stay-at-home wife. I can’t be that.”

“Oh. That’s disappointing. I guess we can scrape him off your list then.”

“Yea.”

“How about John? He’s almost your type,” I said.

“I… don’t know.”

Was she now pondering if a relationship could truly make her happy? Did she care if John noticed her? Was she willing to take the first step?

She wasn’t like me. She never once said that a relationship wasn’t a priority. But, maybe she kept that thought to herself. Perhaps I wasn’t the only hypocrite. Or, maybe I was–she could be more hopeful than I would ever be. She could have more suitors and prospects. In comparison, my lack of effort could be a reflection of my unpopularity.

Stuck in the unknown of my own wants and desires, it was my turn to heave a sigh. I didn’t sigh at her response but at the undetermined, incomprehensible, and often bothersome state I was in. How long would I have to float in this unsettlement? Alike its very nature, I will never know.

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12 Genre Months © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2018 in Original Works

 

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So, What’s Next?

Recently, I’ve been asked this particular question by almost everyone I meet, “What’s next? Are you writing another book?” So to answer everyone else, who may have this question in mind, I thought to share my response here.

The next, after The Slave Prince, is the Raindrops trilogy.

Or, at least, I hope it remains as a trilogy and not become a series. Why? Because trilogies and series aren’t really my thing. I’ve discovered, through writing Book 2, that writing a trilogy is quite a challenge for me. As Book 1 was completed–sent to beta readers–in April 2016, a handful of story facts have gotten lost in time. I’ve misspelled some of the not-so-important character names, I’ve confused certain plot lines, and… I’ve forgotten how some of the places actually looked like. I had to reread Book 1 before writing Book 2. And yet, even after doing so, I’m still making mistakes!

When I think about it, a trilogy is just a really long book. It shouldn’t be too difficult to remember what I, myself, have concocted. Alas, I’m better suited writing standalones of 60k to 70k words–my sweet spot. And funnily enough, I’ve only just learned this fun fact about myself. However, I am going to complete this trilogy. With Book 1 done, how can I not write Book 2? It would be silly to stop a story when I’m this far in. I just have to tough it out and get it done–you have no idea how many times I’ve coaxed myself to keep going. Why did I even think writing a trilogy was a good idea? This writer, right here, had no idea what she had gotten herself into.

With that said, I plan to pitch Book 1 to agents once I finish the first draft of Book 2–it should be done by this year despite the turtle pace. I also plan to spend a good amount of time next year rewriting Book 2. Honestly, that is about it with my plans. All I can do as a writer is to keep writing–to keep running the race. I don’t know what will happen along the way. I might not find a publisher even after I’ve completed the entire trilogy. Or, I may land a publishing deal next year. Anything or nothing can happen. But, I do know what’s next.

For me, it will always be the next word, the next sentence, the next chapter, and the next book. It’ll always be one story after another. Despite how tiring it may be or how unmotivated I sometimes feel, I’ll keep writing. Stopping midway in this journey is, and never will be, an option.

PS, if you’re curious what Raindrops Book 1 is about, let’s just say it follows the tale of a teenage king in search of his father who many believe to be dead. With the magic in raindrops, this youthful king leaves home to travel to other realms. From the hazardous trip behind enemy lines to the festive East Asian-esque Meihua; from the kingdom hovering above the clouds to the military-driven Bevattna; from the heterogeneous society of a tunneled realm to his duel with the heir of Tentazoa, every step in his adventure uncovers a gem of his past, present, and future. And in one foresight, this young king learns the daunting fate of his own realm. That… is all I can say. Hopefully, you’ll get to read this book one day.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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