Maybe we should start saying the things we really mean. – Marianna Paige

Maybe we should start saying the things we really mean. - Marianna Paige

When it’s in my hands I can feel her life force curl around my fingers. 24 handbound pages of her notes. There is a lot that is special about this.

I don’t buy many things for myself anymore. I think its because most of what I desire these days cannot be bought. And then I ran into this on Etsy. And I said, hmmmmm, ya I think I deserve a Christmas present from ME. I often run into the work of other authors that I wish I could be more of. But I’ve long learned not to chase these things. Originality cannot be imitated, only appreciated. I shall be me, she shall be she, and the world shall be more colorful for it.

Yichalal

yichalal

On days like today I feel like I’m up against the whole world. Instead of conveying my inner landscape with words like I usually do, I hammer-and-nailed-up a graphic representation of my world for you, of what the weight of my destiny feels like.

I think this piece works well on a couple of levels: one, the chess board shares the same colour scheme as my book and, two, half my childhood was spent crouched over a chess board. Them good old days. Every once in a while there were heroic moments, times when I was able to turn dire games around, and lead a depleted army to victory.

Yichalal, the amharic word you’ll find in Fuel, means ‘anything is possible’. Rather frightfully, the context within which this word is uttered, offers a rather accurate measure of one’s sanity, or lack of.

The image above, as I originally intended it to be, was to speak for itself, be a stand alone; at worst, accompanied by no more than a string or two of words. I tell ya, no shutting this author up… ah, the fish that just refuses to drown.

The Latest Scoop

dignose

Just a quick update from me on the book. I’ve pushed the second edition of Fuel out on Amazon. E-book versions are also available on The Kindle and The Nook. This new edition contains a number of changes that improves the story’s flow. And because I was rushing the book out for Christmas, I made a number of slipups in the First Edition. Those have been rectified.

I’ve also released a trade paperback edition on Lulu.com. This was an important move for me because I wanted affordable worldwide reach. Although Amazon considers themselves to be international, shipping is pricey. If you live outside the United States, it costs an arm and a healthy testicle. Lulu, on the other hand, from what I understand,  prints the book in the country you are ordering it from, so shipping is a lot less. With all my channels in place, I can now market the book mercilessly.

World domination aside, Fuel is also available at The Bee, my new favourite spot to write (sadly, I don’t write as much as I used to these days). I love the food there, and the music, and the overall atmosphere. An old classmate of mine runs the place, and has granted me use of the stage to promote the book. I just have to think up something good to talk about, that preferably would not scare their customers away. Actually, I’m planning on doing a book reading for the deaf one of these days. Jonah Ong, a huge proponent of the book, is a signer, and he has agreed to do this with me. Maybe, The Bee, Baybee.

Other news. Fuel got its first official review last week. It appeared in the New Straits Times. All the nail chewing have worn my teeth out.

A few weeks before the NST article, I got an unofficial review (more a vote of confidence) from an article that was written by MPH Editor, Alan Wong. This was following a book reading that I had done on my birthday at Readings in Seksan. Another welcomed surpised I had received came when an English professor, Dr Anthony Sibert, was impressed by the book and started a push to have my book incorporated into the curriculum at higher learning institues in Malaysia. Personally, I don’t think my work qualifies. But maybe the level of education really has gone down as much as people have been saying.

Oh, I got a reply from Dato Rais Yatim about my request to place Fuel in all libraries nationwide. His office has referred me on to the Director of the National Library, who will make a decision on how many copies they would like from me. I have my fingers crossed that they would want my remaining stock. The University of Missouri have also promised to stock my book, along with the National University of Singapore.

I’ll be targeting local magazines in the coming week. US magazines and newspapers the week after. The UK after that. Still haven’t figured out how to take on the running community full force.

Will be making an appearance on Feb 26 at MPH bookstore in Midvalley, where I’ll be talking about my journey as a first time author. Fuel will also be featured at the Readings from Readings book launch on Feb 25. On the writing front, I’ve not started on my second book, but have been contributing articles here and there. The latest to be published was in Bettr Magazine. Lastly, I’ve entered Fuel into the Fourth Annual Amazon Breakthrough Award Competition. Winner gets published by Penguin. One can only dream.

Kebiasaan

kebiasaan

My face folded into a curious squint. Two days ago, as I searched the night sky for an answer, this Malay word genied out of this unilingual brain of mine: kebiasaan. It just came out of nowhere.

I did not even know if there was such a word.

“Kebiasaan? Hmmmmm?”

I summoned my eleven years of formal Malaysian education, and concentrated on the word.

“Biasa means normal.”

“Does kebiasaan then mean normalcy?”

“Or does the word mean ‘usual’ as in ‘Jadi satu kebiasaan’, which would mean ‘become routine’?”

“You sure about that?”

“Oh… I don’t know. Really, I don’t.”

“Just curious JC. What did you notch for your Malay language paper?”

“Now, now. Let’s not exhume any dark memories here.”

Like heads on a totem pole having a conversation, a panel discussion took place in my mind, and it led me down a path of self discovery. This was what I unearthed. My Malay is beyond hope.

Normalcy
NORMALCY. In my world, this has become a bit of an estranged word, banished like a leper to its own colony.

Of late, my life has been lived so intently, so intensely, that I now actually long for the opposite. So long it has been since I’ve experienced peace within. Enjoyed any form of normalcy or free abandon. These days, when I’m at rest, I no longer feel restful. But restless. This anxiousness in me that refuses to cease—it is of the sort that builds in the stillness, intensifying as time drains away.

There is a lot to be desired in the new career path I’m on. But a lot of what’s bad is invisible to the naked eye, blanketed by its sheen. So don’t wish for it too hastily. In the life I’ve chosen, I’m no longer subjected to Monday Blues, but I’ve lost one of life’s simple and most fulfilling pleasures… a reason to Thank God It’s Friday. Sure, I do arrive at new milestones, a cause for celebration. But before any corks can be popped, and sips taken, this voice within never fails to remind me, “You’re not there yet. Not even close.”

My Friday may one day come, many years from the last eighty I’ve missed. This hope, this Utopia I’ve envisioned for myself… it is all I have to hold on to.

For now, all I can do is reminisce the days before this innocence was lost. Back when the burden of destiny was left to fate. When happiness was something that happened to me, instead of an active pursuit. At a point in time when I could sit at the fringe of the ocean, watch the sea swell and shrink around my feet, and experience bliss.

A life of sentences? Or a life sentence?
Rome was not built in a day. Neither are successful authors.

International Best Selling Author.

I’ve forged and re-forged these words in my mind, allowed them to steer each of my actions. When I committed myself to this dream, I may have been unaware of what I was committing to. I’ve often asked myself this. Have I subjected on myself, the most ruinous ‘sentence’ in my life? A self-imposed fatwa that could well follow me to the grave, or maybe even expedite my journey there.

Where the writing of Fuel was concerned, I did not merely throw words onto the wind. I made a complete emotional investment, enlisted everything I had. Commitment is when you plant your seeds and your feet on the same patch. I had done that. And I’m not sure if it was a mistake.

To hold or to fold
Just the other day, I was reminded of the words to this song, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls… Please stick to the rivers and lakes that you’re used to.”

With all the turbulence that has entered my life, the question of whether I should stay the course has grown louder in my mind. On one hand, letters are trickling in from readers, telling me how powerful the book is, how it has changed their lives. On another front, there is mounting pressure for me to return to the life I’d left behind. Standing at the centre of the swirling debris, it has become extremely difficult for me to find a way out of the storm. Do I have the strength to weather it? The stomach to turn back? The freedom to ride it? So deep I am in the eye, that I may have lost the ability to differentiate stubbornness from resilience. All I know is this. If I stand too long at a crossroads, I’ll get run over by all sides.

These days, more frequently than before, I catch myself day dreaming of fair weather and wishing for normalcy. I’ve experienced many moments of joy in the last 500 days, but none that I felt I deserved. The strings have cut into my hands, have been stained red, taut in every direction. My grip ungiving, I stand here trapped in the wire, a prisoner in time, detained by the dream I’m trying to attain.

My letter to Rais Yatim

This is the thing about desert rain. Those who experience this rain experience the splendour of a rainbow.

I believe that if you throw enough prayers up in the wind, one will eventually be carried to the right person. One such prayer I had offered up, despite many people telling me it would be longer than a long shot, was a letter to Rais Yatim.

YB Dato’ Seri Utama,

Perkara: Novel FUEL untuk Perpustakaan-Perpustakaan di Malaysia

Dengan hormatnya, inzinkan saya terlebih dahulu melahirkan perasaan kagum saya atas segala yang telah dicapai oleh YB Dato’ Seri dalam mempromosikan tabiat membaca di negara kita ini.

Usaha YB Dato’ Seri sudah tentu akan mendatangkan impak yang positif ke atas negara bagi generasi-generasi yang akan datang, dan menghasilkan negara Malaysia yang lebih progresif.

Saya berbangga menulis surat ini bertujuan memaklumkan YB Dato’ Seri bahawa saya telahpun berjaya menerbitkan sebuah buku yang berjudul FUEL, dan saya berbesar hati menghulurkan YB Dato’ Seri senaskah sebagai hadiah ikhlas daripada saya.

Sekiranya YB merasakan yang buku saya ini ada nilainya, adalah harapan saya agar YB Dato’ Seri mempertimbangkan untuk membekalkannya untuk perpustakaan-perpustakaan di seluruh negara.

Setakat ini buku saya telah mendapat banyak ulasan yang menggalakkan, dan adalah hasrat saya agar setiap warga Malaysia yang mahu membacanya dapat berbuat demikian, namun, sudah tentu ramai di antara mereka mungkin tidak mampu membelinya.

Saya cukup sedar bahawa akses kepada buku FUEL untuk semua terletak di tangan YB Dato’ Seri sendiri dan oleh itu saya menyusun sepuluh jari dan meminta agar YB memutuskan untuk menjadikan akses ini satu kenyataan.

Akhir sekali saya harap YB Dato’ Seri terhibur membaca buku tersebut dan saya akan menunggu jawapan yang positif daripada YB Dato’ Seri.

Terima kasih atas masa yang sudah diluangkan oleh YB Dato’ Seri.

Yang ikhlas,
Jeremy Chin

Sometimes it is important to have a little faith, because that translates into hope. That way, when things are just not going your way, you have something to hold on to, that shred of hope, that prayer in the wind. I await Dato Rais’ answer. I await answers to the 200+ letters I’ve written to individuals and organisations worldwide. This week, I’ll write a hundred more.

One of the first questions I get from people after they’ve read my book is if I’m Timmy. Yes, I am he, that starry eyed dreamer with that undousable fire in his eyes. Often, I believe that to get my book there, I have to pave my own destiny. It’s just a matter of who ends up being a part of the journey.

destiny

Catching the next wave

I remember the first time I launched a website for a client and agapedly viewed it online. My chest swelled with pride, knowing that my creation was out there, for the world to see. It was the same for the next few websites… the one for Weird Al Yankovic, for FOX, iMAX, the Cartoon Network. And then the feeling left. It didn’t matter how big the client was, whether it was Adobe, or Jane Seymour, or Terminator 3… it was just a day at the office.

Downcasts I was, the last 12 years, that this brand of emotions would never again visit me, that the limelight had varnished an impermeable coat of jadedness on me. And then last Sunday happened…  as I watched someone read my book in a public place, her mind glued to every word on the page.

CIMG6190

Out of my hands

I took one last lingering glance, and had to let her go. My baby’s on its way, in bits and bytes to the printer.

Three days ago, as I was going through the book one last time, I made a rather drastic change—I turned three chapters in the middle to first person. I think it helps the story move a little better. God, I hope I’m right. Personally, I feel it could have been the worst or best writing decision I’ve made on the book. Those of you who know me know I’ve given up walking the middle line a long time ago.

Am not sure what I’m feeling right now. It’s a mixture of relief and nervousness I think. A bit of an odd blend don’t you think?

So how long before the book is available? The printer says it will take 2 weeks. When they’ve completed their job, I’d no longer just be a writer, but an author.

“How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so
much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”

- Trina Paulus

My Everest

Every time my eyes touch a great body of literary work, I catch a glimpse of the mountain’s summit, the mountain I am climbing.

For a moment, I will be lost in awe, consumed by its beauty. Until it sinks in. A realisation that I am nowhere close to where I need to be. That the journey forward will not be an easy one.

My heart, that just moments ago felt uplifted, light as a feather lost in a warm wind current, suddenly weighs as heavy as my snow boots. Everything feels heavy. My jacket, my gloves, my skin. With every step I take forward, the white powder beneath my feet crumbles and pulls me back half a stride. And the wind that was on my back, in my sails, have turned around to confront me. The peak that towers over me feels untouchable, unreachable and forever away. I avert my eyes back to the ground and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other, knowing deep inside that each laboured step brings me closer to my prize, to my Everest.