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.
Taunja, a friend of mine on Facebook, posted this really great quote on her wall today.
This is a great, great quote. But you know what I realised? If you’ve found your life’s real passion and engage in it everyday, your behind-the-scenes will totally kick the ass of everyone else’s highlight reel. Here, I’ll give you an example (I don’t currently live this life, but am working up to it).
“I spent the first half of my day writing at a quaint neighborhood cafe in the the suburbs. Every so often, I peered up to watch the world go by. In the early afternoon, I picked my son up from school and we talked a bit about how his day went. He told me about this new kid at school who dressed funny, and how he went up to talk to him because no one else would. After Oliver completed his homework, we decided we would make pizza and we got into a food fight. It took over an hour for us to clean up the mess, but it was well worth the 5 minutes of laughter.”
Others may tell me tales of their visits to castles in the sky, but it wouldn’t come close to my experience of heaven on earth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week has allowed me a peek into very different worlds. On Tuesday it was Pecha Kucha, the Japanese fad that has viraled world wide. Wednesday night at Batu Caves exposed me to the colour and fascinating rituals of the Hindu faith. Last night, I explored the meaning of life as a Christian, through the Alpha course. And tonight, I allowed a different kind of spirit pass through me, at Rootz, the most exclusive and expensive nightclub in the city. Tomorrow morning, I had thought of joining a group that gathers each week on a rock in a forest… to read and contemplate a book, A Course in Miracles. But lazy bones here would probably not be able to wake up.
The invitation for tonight came from my friend Derrick, who on discovering I had not clubbed in the metropolis for eons, felt the need to provide me an opportunity to let my proverbial hair down. He had a four-person pass to a cigarette launch organised by Grey Worldwide, the agency I had just applied at for a job. Further provoked by the promise of a free flow of booze for the night, I figured, why not?
Rootz nests on the charming sky garden at Lot 10, in the centre of town. I had been on the rooftop once, but for a very different reason–to attend a play. I had then wondered what it would be like to party on this rooftop, and was glad I got this chance to satisfy that curiosity.
Today, as we walked down the red carpet leading to the club, flash bulbs fired nonstop, from the scores of photographers flanking the walk. Well aware of my ‘nobodyness’, I thought the scene over-manufactured and completely ridiculous.
Promoter girls paraded the new line of cigarettes, chest out, like proud peacocks trying to lure a mate. One of the girls came up to me, and I bought a pack, just so I could shed the guilt I was at the time feeling–that I was free-loading. I have to say, this new cigarette has a really cool feature. If you pinch the filter, you’d be able to feel a little ball embedded in the soft material. Press it harder and the ball pops, and it is the most pleasurable sensation. More addictive than popping bubble wrap, in my opinion. The hidden orb, once burst, releases the mint element of the cigarette.
The interior at Rootz was rather grand; high ceilings, baroque artwork, antique-finished walls, velvet sofas. Having arrived at an early hour, the place had yet to be packed with people, and we were able to secure a table right in front. The waiters patrolling the floor seemed to be on a mission to de-sober us in the quickest possible time, and efficiently shuttled free whisky and beer to our table. As the club filled up, the music got progressively louder, and more spit gathered on my ear each time someone tried to tell me something. As the DJ pushed the music to a higher tempo, people started to dance all around me, and I gaped at their fluency. Unschooled in modern dance methods, I felt like a rigid obelisk in a sea of fluid anemone.
I had a ball of a time observing. Observing the faces, the fashion, the body language, the hemlines. Oh, and I learned something new. You know that song, Fly like a G6. G6 is actually a plane. I was probably the last person in the room to know that. Been feeling a little too school for cool these days.
My throat was completely raw by the time we called it a night at one. I really enjoyed the music, the people I were with, watching the DJ do an amazing job weaving in and out of songs. This was the funny thing though. It wasn’t until I got into my car and drove through the city that I felt a relationship with the night. It reminded me of this Volkswagen ad.
Acknowledging that nothing could sound as good as the music at Rootz, I opted to not turn on my car radio, to preserve my memory of the club. As I drove, I took in the deadness of the sleeping city, the whir of my four-cylinder, the blur of lights flashing by. I experienced an unmatched solitude as my car gracefully curved and glided through the Smart tunnel at 120. To cap off the symphony of emotions I felt from connecting with the night, I made myself some scrambled eggs when I got home.
After I satisfied my belly, I walked into the bedroom, changed into my bed clothes, and scissored off the wristband the club had cuffed me with. I pondered on things for a bit. And I realised, that life truly is a journey. A search for that sense of place, to discover where you belong. I settled at my desk, my place, and started to write.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a party as hedonistic as the one I just attended, wave after wave of scantily clad assassins dispatched to feed on the weak. Quite a departure from the loneliness of the cafe I write at, where my shadow traces the ground from day to night. Would I trade the loneliness? I would… but not for this.
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.
My heart sank like a rock in water the last time I caught a glimpse of our bank account balance. Our savings had halved since we moved back to Malaysia. Most of it went towards getting set up I guess – house expenditure, our cars, child birth. Thankfully, I think we’ve moved past the heavy expenditure, but I still think we’ll have to tighten our belts a little, especially now that we’ve become a single income household.
I’ve spent the last couple of months engaged in quite a bit of DIY stuff – building shelves, a wine glass rack, refurbishing a clothes horse, building a small gate and other bits and bobs. Unfortunately, everything looks a bit crooked, so I’ve stashed away any desire to follow Jesus’ footsteps as a carpenter.
Have also spent quite a bit of time getting the garden and our finances in order, and that has been a huge relief. So it’s kinda nice that there has been progress on the home front, that life has not been stagnant.
With all those major annoyances out of the way, I think I’ll be able to work more routine into my day. The first half would be for domestic affairs – laundry, house cleaning, gardening. And the second half, my writing. In the last couple months, I’ve discovered that the unkempt state of our home hangs over my head throughout the day, and that it’s a bit hard for me to get into a Zen-like state till that stuff gets straigthened.
Every day since I quit my day job, I’ve wondered if I was doing the right thing. It still weighs heavily on me that I may not achieve what I’m setting out to accomplish. That I’m putting all my hopes and dreams into this one basket. And that it may get lost in a boundless ocean, amongst the million other baskets. Baskets that others have set afloat with their hopes and dreams inside.
I’ve also come to realise that the path I’m on is a lonely one. There is the physical loneliness of being indoors mostly these days, as well as the emotional loneliness of not running into many who can relate to what I’m currently going through. It really feels like a steep climb at the moment, but I’m quite certain this is a journey I have to take, so that I don’t look back and wonder… what if.
I wrote the final two lines of my book today. It’s a kicker.
Unfortunately, a lot of the meat is still missing. I’m only at 9,900 words. I started out by writing the how the story began, but my mind raced ahead to write the middle, and random chapters in between. I can’t seem to pen my thoughts down fast enough. And life seems to get in the way… freelance projects to help us stay afloat, paying the bills, mopping up the mess left behind from those savage monkeys, being a husband, being a dad.
But I guess that’s life. You just have to learn how to navigate around the cones. But this is why we work. To stay afloat, to pay the bills, to buy BB Guns, to be a breadwinner to your wife and your kid.
I think I’ve finally untangled that big ball of spaghetti stuck in my chest. After over a month of soul searching, I’ve boiled it down to this. I find I’m most happy when I’m engaged in creative expression. This could be through my writing, photography, painting, gardening, poetry or music.
Of the art forms, I’ve chosen writing to be the one I will engage in primarily for now as I feel it allows me the most expression. I guess when words fail me, and I feel the need for different expression, then I may turn to other art forms for relief.
I will be writing 3 books concurrently, although as time passes I’m pretty sure one of the books will emerge as an outright favourite, and I’ll end up devoting all my time to just the one. For now the plan is to take a year off from full time employment to realise my dream. Finances will be extremely tight. It will be a long arduous climb. God help me.