Why we need to fail

Some time back, I wrote about me working on this project to launch a magazine. Problems cropped up and I was forced to put it on hold while I search for a solution and more funds.

It wasn’t easy to put something you’re totally into on hold but I believe there is a time and place for it to eventually come to fruition. It doesn’t quite count as failure but you know obstacles in life have a way of making you feel as if you suck. At a time when nothing seem to go right for me, it was truly a downer.

After a chat with a friend, I decided to see it as a blessing in disguise. I mean, I was lucky it happened when it did and not at a time when it would have been impossible to pull out without losses. Besides, I had learnt quite a fair bit from this experience and I knew I would be able to handle it differently the next time.

I try to apply this mentality to my writing as well. I mean, of course there are times when I felt sore and severely let down by life but I guess I’ve come to terms with the fact that life is never and will never be a bed of roses for me. I live for the little thrills when I see my articles published and know that someday, somehow, somewhere, I will make my dreams come true.

Failure is something that all of us dread and I’m pretty sure my loyal readers who’re mangaka or writers know that as well as anyone else. But before you go all emo and down jugs of alcohol to dull your senses to the pain of failure, remember one thing. Failure only makes you stronger and that’s why you need to fail.

Hope my post didn’t make you too depressed. Heh. =3


The hows and whys of writing

Yo guys!

Sorry for not blogging lately but I managed to invite Ms Ju-Lyn, who was featured in the TODAY newspaper sometime ago on her self-publishing endeavours, to pen her thoughts on writing. Quite insightful. =3

So have a good read.


Hello, how are you?

A few months back I received an email from moon to share on my experiences of writing and self-publishing a book. I was excited to find a community of like-minded Singaporeans and flattered to be asked to write an article. I asked her what I should write about, and she said pretty much anything. Then I asked her how long should the article be. Then she said it’s pretty much up to me. It’s been hard trying to decide what to focus on – writing and/or self-publishing, to me, is very complicated. So, I thought perhaps I could share broadly about how it’s complicated. It is, perhaps, something that I wish I sorted out for myself earlier, and I hope that the brief outline that follows will be helpful to you.

To me, writing (or whatever it is that I want to do) is at least complicated in two aspects. Firstly, there’s the technical aspect of doing things – the “HOW” of getting things done. How to write, what to write, when to write… How to spell a certain word, what is grammatically correct… How to work what software, what is typography, how to design the cover, what shall I put on the cover… and the list goes on and on. Effort must be dedicated to researching, studying/learning, doing, reviewing or editing… I had wanted to do everything myself (including writing to laying out to publicity) because I wanted to have control over all these details, it was important to know what I needed to learn so that I could do what I wanted to do… and how much time and effort each phase (e.g. learning, training, doing phases) would take so that I can allocate my time and energy accordingly.

The second aspect is the psychological or philosophical aspect of things – the “WHY” and reason behind wanting to get things done. In some ways, I think this aspect is often less considered, although it is as important as technical competency, if not more important. This is simply because I could have used the time I spent on writing to do many other things. Similarly, everyone could spend his efforts on doing anything, for example, on doing other things, like studying harder, or doing something for his parents. Why do I want to spend the effort to edit my stories again and again and again, when it gets boring and tedious and trying? Why do I want to do what I want to do? Why do I write?

Understanding this was important to sustain my self-motivation. And even though I always gave different answers to different people asking me about my self-publishing project, it helps when I have the real reasons and motivation firmly establish in my mind. This also prevents me from being hurled into a whirlpool of self-doubt whenever someone asks about what I’m up to, having given up a cushy job, facing zero security with no income, etc.

I recommend putting together a “scrap-book” of why you do what you want to do, so that it’s convenient when you need reminding. It also helped me to have explained my motivations clearly to my closest friends and family members, so that they could better appreciate my pursuit, and helped to remind me, or at least, don’t question me too much.

On this, I recommend reading “Why I write” by George Orwell. You can probably find the full text online or neatly summarized in wiki. Broadly, Orwell discussed 4 motives behind writing and it can kind of get philosophical. Whilst Orwell’s personal reasons did not always apply exactly to me, I generally related to the 4 motives and it greatly helped me organise for myself “why I write”.

In this way, I should think that every individual would have to figure it out for himself, why he writes, or why she draws, or acts, or dances, or become a lawyer or teacher, or whatever it is that he does or wants to do. This is because everyone is different and have differing background, etc, thus everyone’s motivation differs. Which brings me to my next point, writing, to me, is very personal and that it’s SO personal that it complicates things even further. (This is something that I really wish to have been warned about earlier.)

Say for example, taking in other’s criticism or feedback on my work. Because it’s personal, I can’t help emotionally reacting to these inputs and feel bad or upset or happy or proud, and my emotional and psychological reactions would affect how I might assess the criticisms and applying them constructively. On bad days, my psychological reactions to my work – whether I’m good enough to write or not, blah blah – it can even hinder me from writing altogether.

But say then, on the other hand, if I didn’t take my writing personally at all, i.e. I took it totally from the objective point of view, then would I take other people’s opinion or feedback more easily and improve my competencies faster? Yet if I didn’t take my writing personally, then what would I be writing for and what’s the point of improving anything?

Ugh, so how?

I don’t know of a better way, but I try to balance when to treat my writing personally and when to be objective. For example, I treat it personally when I must motivate myself (or put my personal point of view into my stories, but that’s calls for a different discussion). I treat it objectively when I must critique and edit my work, and I find it helps pushing towards higher standards. And this balancing-personal-or-objective-act is difficult. For myself, it demands more self-control, self-awareness, and self-discipline than is required to overcome all the technical complexities combined together.

And I suspect if I didn’t harness the power of how writing is personal, then I wouldn’t have enough energy to complete my project. If I don’t manage to keep it tame, I would not have the energy or self-confidence to continue writing (find my stuff on meakfreak). Aside, I think “You’ve got mail”, the movie starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, illustrates the difference between taking something personally, or not, quite well.

Okay, I hope my sharing helps.


Internship = Free?

I remember a time during my university days when I was supposed to go for an internship but couldn’t make it due to personal reasons. I was thrilled to have gotten the internship with a local magazine but the position was unpaid. I didn’t mind it then but upon hearing from a close friend of mine that someone offered her a PAID internship, my enthusiasm quickly dampened.

Now, I’m not as money-faced as you are starting to think… =x

It’s just that when you have hardly enough to get by every month, every cent is important, ya know? =x Heh.

BUT! Paid or unpaid, internships should be valuable opportunities to learn the trade of writing or drawing for or handling a magazine. Writer’s Digest has a really useful article on this very topic. So have a read and really consider what you may be expected to do when interviewing for an internship. =)

Yes, to be hardworking is very commendable. But in this cold hard world, you got to know how to protect yourself ya? Work smart.

Oh and read up on the traits of a successful self publisher. You may just need the tips. =)


AMWC is 1 year old!

Wheeee…without realising it…AMWC turned one in January! Yes…I totally forgot about it. Hurhur. =x

But hey, to be able to come this far is quite an achievement sia. The club is still active and the members are slowly but surely showing the world the stuff they’re made of. =3

Last night, I was reading this article on freelance writing and the writer reckons that if one lives by the terms of the client, writing jobs would be fighting to get through your door.

His list ran along the lines of being able to take on any possible type of assignment 24 hours a day, armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of everything and a flexibility (with regards to payment options and payment dates) as wide as the Grand Canyon. This perfect writer should also instantly understand his client’s brief at first look and accept as many amendments as dictated by his client. =.=

First of all, I’ll like to say his article does contain some useful tips. But to completely abide by the client’s will is completely unrealistic, impossible and unhealthy. Yes, freelance writers try to meet their client’s requirements as much as possible but to a reasonable limit. And above all…freelancers live on their assignment paycheck. If they had to be flexible to the point where they only receive the promised paycheck one year after they submit the project (sometimes never at all), they have only themselves to blame.

Bills are not flexible. Period.

And time is money. If you have to spend too much time doing amendments on a project, your time is not efficiently utilised. Freelance writing is more than just writing you know. You have to look for assignments, balance the books, do your own marketing etc…all without anyone’s help unless you hire an assistant.

It’s a tough tough job. :/

But of course…not without its rewards. The thrill of being able to provide one’s client with a well-done work is never-ending. Good freelance writers do their best for each client but they are also human. =)


A long absence and moon’s mag

Hallo all! Sorry for the long absence. =x

Been working on a little project of mine, due to be launched in either late August or early September. I’m planning to set up a kids magazine for kids ages 7-12 so hopefully you guys can support me when the first issue comes out! Hehe. The magazine will also feature artwork by members of AMWC namely, deliri, szelin and kyo83! So do support the mag! =3

I will definitely publicize its launch here so no worries about missing it! Heh.

Anyways…been doing quite a bit of reading on self-publishing (in the process of doing research for my magazine) and since I’ve not been updating for very long, I decided to leave you with a link to some articles that I hope you’ll find useful. =)

Is a Traditionally Published Book Superior?

The articles basically discusses whether self-publishing is a good idea for the market and if it is the way to go when your manuscripts have been rejected one too many times.

Mmmm, on a personal note. I think self-publishing is the route to go if you know you have a good book on hand. Marketing plays a big part no matter whether you go traditional or self-publishing. But of course, make sure you do your homework and present your best work to the world.

Yes, I know I should be writing more…but at this time…not much to update except that AMWC has grown a bit more with a few more new members. Well…welcome to the Club people! =3


ComixPandora’s artist, Xuan, has her first officially published manga!

Hi guys! Would like to extend AMWC’s warmest congratulations to Xuan from ComixPandora for having her FIRST officially published manga! So exciting! Here’s what they have to say in their newsletter announcement:

Comix Pandora’s Artist, Xuan’s First Officially Published Manga!

Comix Pandora is pleased to announce that our very own Xuan (Yeo Hui Xuan), is now the first female doujinshi artist to become a full-time manga artist in Singapore! Her first officially published manga, “Dream Walker: The Dreamscape” is now available in all good bookstores island-wide!

“Dream Walker” is a fantasy manga tracing the protagonist, Yume’s adventures in the dreamscape and how she develops her ability to fight against the demonic Boumas together with her mentor, Muca, the cat. The entire production is supervised by long time successful manga artist, Mr Wee Tian Beng himself.

Xuan has been a part of Comix Pandora ever since its beginning and she has produced doujinshi mangas such as “Comix Pandora Introduction Guide book”, “Sennin Adventure”, “Sennin Adventure -Side Story”, “Hard Relationship” and “Dream” in Fantasy Realm and various illustrations during this period, being one of the most successful artist in Comix Pandora.

Comix Pandora has always strived to bring you original and sincere works from our artists and we congratulate Xuan on her very first book!

Don’t miss out on this 100% original local production!!
Order today online at CelestialZone.com or get it at your nearest bookstores!

Comix Pandora will also be teaming up specially with the publisher to bring you “Dream Walker: The Dreamscape” at a SPECIAL PRICE in July’s Cosfest 2009!

We will be giving out ONE FREE LIMITED EDITION POSTCARD with every book purchased at Cosfest 2009 or when the book is ordered online.

If you bought it at a bookstore, don’t worry, simply bring it to us at Comix Pandora’s booth during Cosfest and you’ll still get the postcard! While stocks last!!


Once again, congratulations to Ms Xuan. =3


Budding writers take note~~!

Budding writers who are still studying in primary schools or secondary schools now have a chance to flex their yarn spinning muscles! Publisher Marshall Cavendish is organising the Budding Project 2009 for those who are just bursting to be a published writer.

The winners of this competition will have the unique opportunity of experiencing the entire publishing process, from editing and illustrating to printing, promotions and sales. A new addition to this year’s competition is the development of the winning works into digital versions of the books. Thus, besides the publishing process, winners will learn about the procedures involved in transforming their entries into digital books.

We invite participation from all primary and secondary school students in Singapore.

Source: Budding Project 2009

Of course, the adults also get a chance to show off their writing prowess. The Adelaide Review is also organising their first Annual Short Competition for unpublished works. Details here.


Why Twittering could increase your profile on the web

If you spend your time online as much as I do (cough cough, don’t worry, I do have a life beyond the computer), you would have recognised the word “Twitter”.

No, it’s not some kind of codeword that you have to crack your brains over. It’s simply a website where you inform the world of “what you’re doing”. Amazingly, this concept fired the imagination of many and became quite the runaway success. Just yesterday, I read an article on how Twitter actually put a Singaporean in touch with a local motivational author. She then proceeded to ask the author out for lunch (aka networking).

The beautiful thing is, Twitter puts people in touch with others across the world they would never have the chance to meet via the traditional means. So like for example, you’ve just written a story or done a piece of art you want critique on. Maybe you feel AMWC is a tad too inactive for you so you decide to Twitter about it. Within a day, you could have people reading or scrutinising your work and giving their feedback about it! Cool right. So yup…do all the Twittering you can because…someday, somehow, someone may just spot you through Twitter and who knows? Opportunities galore could be on your plate for the upcoming years. =)

PS: You could find me Twittering here. XDDD

PPS: Twitter is really a treasure chest full of info…you wouldn’t believe the fresh info I get from it. =x