24/7 shift

It’s only 8.13am in the morning, but I’m already tired. I suppose that’s because I’ve been up since 4+am. 

‘What are you doing up at 4am?’ You must be thinking. 

Well. I have a 6 month old kid, so even if my body doesn’t of its own accord wake me up at such ungodly hours, my dear son certainly will when amidst his dream-filled slumber something deep inside him screams for an ounce or more of milk. 

My days are run on 24 hour shifts nowadays. That means… literally no breaks. Every waking hour I am either caring for Jamie or trying to frantically get work done or doing house chores. Well, discounting eating and sleeping and toilet time, of course. 

With this Work At Home Mum arrangement, I doubt I will ever have any official leave the way you would if you work at a full time or even a part time job. It’s a bit mad, but I guess for now, I can manage it. I do wonder though if ever at time will come where my body will just give up on me for having been so harsh with it and never letting it relax or rest. 


Actually, I should be blogging about stuff like this on this co-authored blog on motherhood that a friend and I have started up (YES, I do blog somewhere other than here). But I hate to cloud that space with too much negativity. Motherhood is a joyous experience, despite these tiring, rigourous routines we have to put up with in these early years. So I guess I feel I can only fully rant or be myself about it all in this personal blog of mine. 

Dreams of ever publishing a novel are almost completely banished from my mind nowadays. Never mind the issue of finding time (for that can still be arranged somehow), it’s more a question of what could I possibly write. What intriguing tale could I have buried inside of me that anyone out there would even want to read? 

Perhaps I should just focus on making money through my writing. Maybe that’s all that this gift of words that God has given me is for. For me to earn my keep. To supplement our family’s income so my son doesn’t die and so that I don’t use up space on this Earth with nothing to show for it. 

Deric says I dwell on the morbid side of life. This is probably one of those instances where it’s showing. 

(Just last week, I found out we had a mould problem on our walls and an infestation of book lice, not to mention the ongoing ant invasion in our kitchen. I messaged him to urge him to come back from work as soon as possible to have a look at the problem. “Hurry or you may find us dead with the sky having fallen on our heads and worms crawling out of our ears,” I told him. Well, something to that effect. Now you know how morbid I can be). 

I think I’ve lost the joy of writing. I’m so afraid to pen down thoughts, and to publish them online especially, because I feel I have nothing good to say. Nothing clickable or viral worthy. But why should that matter, I wonder? 

I miss the old days when random readers would surf my blog and leave comments on how much they enjoyed my posts (this happened for previous blogs I wrote on, not this one though). That feeling of a geniune, supportive blog community where everyone was just an ordinary netizen sharing about their lives on the Web. A blogosphere untainted by writers seeking to make a million bucks through click bait and advertising. 

I really should just think less when I write. It’s the curse of journalism that has made me self-censor so much. I need to shake that off. After all, I am a journo no more. 

So I’m going to try to write a little something here every day. If nothing else comes out of it, at least I know I am practising putting my thoughts to the screen and improving my writing in some way or another. 

I know I’ve made resolutions like this so often in the past, and that it always comes to mind around the time when I have to renew my domain subscription (which was just this month actually). But maybe for once, I will make good my word. Words. 

I need to unleash once more that long lost habit of crafting poems and conjuring short stories. 

I’d like creativity to be the hallmark of everything I write. 

I want to write shorter blog posts but yet offer worthwhile content that any random reader will appreciate, with ideas and perspectives that will remain in their memory long after they have left the boundaries of this blog. 

That is the sort of prose I want to attributed to my name. 

So I guess I should stop writing about writing and just write. 

Things that were, things that are

Image source: BBC

Received my first writing assignment today since delivering Jamie in April. Feels like ages ago since I’ve had to write for work. I wonder if I still know how to do it the way I used to. 

My sentiments about work and my career direction in general have been greatly altered since Jamie’s arrival. I’ve always said to Deric that I would consider quitting full time employment once we had children in the equation, but saying that in advance and being faced with the actual decision is two different things. 

I do not regret my decision, of course. It is something I have thought over many times and in my mind and heart, family always comes first (well technically, God comes first, but that goes without saying and I’m speaking of earthly commitments here). So here I am, finally living out what I have chewed on mentally for years. Giving up a regular career to focus more on being a better mother and wife. 

I’ve been told it’s hard to juggle between the two: working at home and tending to family affairs. Someone I know said it involves things like working at night since you can’t really get any work done when you’re alone with the kids and need to wait until your spouse comes to relieve you before you can get cracking at meeting your deadlines. Another tells me she sends her baby to the babysitter just so she can get things done during the daytime. 

I hope to do neither. 

But seeing how tough it is to get much of anything done with Jamie to care for, I wonder how I’ll actually accomplish this. I suppose I will find out soon. Well, I guess it helps that Deric has been supportive of all of this and hasn’t ever pressured me to find work. In fact, I think if I were to just decide to be a stay at home mum (aka SAHM) instead of a work at home mum (aka WAHM), he wouldn’t mind either. 

However, I see value in continuing to keep up my harga saham in the working world. That’s because you never know what the future will hold. What if Deric loses his job? Or has a pay cut? Or… Well, the possibilities are endless. 

So I’m going to give this WAHM thing a shot. I certainly hope it works out, because it has been so fulfilling to get paid to write all this while and I wouldn’t want to lose that ability. 

Writing itself isn’t a chore for me. In fact, it’s something I do willingly. It’s what you find me doing here anyway. 

A curious little discovery

Image source: Wikispace: Literary devices

Here’s a new thing for me to aspire towards: literary journalism.

I first learned of the genre while searching for an image for one of my previous posts. In the process of sifting through pictures from Google Images, I stumbled upon true/story lab, an interesting little site by Duke University, Durham, England.

How fascinating. I had never heard of the term before this. It actually sounds like something I could write. A form of writing that is actually pretty much factual (something that I am used to tackling thanks to being a journalist) and yet… allows creative expression and a level of dramatisation as though it were a work of fiction.

It doesn’t fall very far from the tree where biographies and historical documentation come from, but perhaps there is a happy middle ground here where I can thrive.

Something new to think about, that’s for sure.

All the write things

Image source: true/story lab

I’m having dinner here on my own tonight since Deric has headed off to my parent’s place to catch a game of English football on the telly with Pa.

I usually don’t tag along whenever he goes there for such reasons these days, since I figure some peace and quiet at home will do me some good. Plus, we both tend to head over there to have dinner with my parents (and my sis too) pretty often so I have a plenty of opportunities to spend time with them on most weeks, anyway.

So here I am, finally with some time on my hands to blog. It’s been a nagging thought at the back of my mind these few weeks, the fact that I haven’t been keeping up the blogging habit. I mean, I’m actually paying money now to keep this website alive, hence I really should make the most of it in order to get enough bang out of my buck.

But alas, you know how things are. Life tends to get in the way.

Most of the time, I’m busy dealing with what’s right in front of me (which is usually work, social obligations and other equally urgent commitments) that other whims and fancies such blogging tends to take a back seat.

Well, actually, you could say that about me and writing in general. By this I mean the type of writing that I would like to do for fun, and nothing else.

It’s kind of an ironic thing for someone like me to be saying this since I do actually write for a living. Every day I engage in some part of the writing process – be it fact gathering and research, interviewing and transcribing, writing a draft or making corrections to such a draft.

But trust me, writing for work versus doing it for pleasure feels really different.

When it comes to work, once you’ve been doing it for a couple of years or more, you kind of have it boiled down to certain tried and tested formulas.

Your favoured methods are typically safe and predictable, and you come to rely on them time and time again because you are certain that by following these certain number of steps you can be assured of arriving, at the end of it all, with some form of consistent writing output. 

But these sort of devices usually leave you with little room for creativity. It’s never quite as satisfying as, say, hashing out a short story or even penning down a poem. 

Writing for fun, on the other hand, allows you room for complete spontaneity. You can change your mind as you please, take whichever whimsical route of imagination strikes you as best, and craft characters, places and mystical objects of the universe at will. A blank page is a real treat; an invitation to flex your creative muscles and take a chance on the wild side.

While you’re at work, however, a similarly blank page is instead a cause for panic, especially when you’re due to show something concrete to your editor within the next 15 minutes. Panic will most certainly ensue, followed by a frantic hammering at the keyboard, just so a few dozens of paragraphs culminate quickly on the screen before you.

Never mind whether they make sense or not. They will, eventually, when you feel the final few seconds of the clock ticking, and the walls and ceiling seem to start closing in on you. When you hear that familiar stern voice calling out your name from across the hall, and your pounding heart urges you to hurry up and finish the deed before it decides to permanently stop circulating blood supply to your body and you inadvertently have your very life taken from you.

I hope you can see by now, my dear readers, the distinct differences between the two.

For us writers, more often than not, writing the things we love won’t pay the bills. Hence, we inevitably have to make  a sacrifice: we give up the right to choose what we write in exchange for money.

Typically, this profit motive involves supplying a form of writing that someone else out there wants, but cannot generate for themselves because, God bless their poor souls, they cannot write to save their own lives.

Reports, speeches, advertising copy, scripts, letters… these are the sort of things we have to resort to just so we can get enough bucks transferred into our bank accounts.

But deep inside the heart of every writer whose love for the craft goes beyond finding a means by which to survive there is a soul that yearns to pen beautiful prose…

Words that will make people laugh, cry or energise them in such a way that they decide to act nobly for the good of humankind. Profound sentences that inspire and challenge, which will be continually remembered across the sands of time. Poignant tales of wonder, adventure and mystery.

It is in the hope of earning the time and liberty to write such things that we keep pushing on. We endure the mundane, in hopes that someday we will discover that diamond in the rough. The treasure that will make us rich enough to set us free from the shackles of deadlines, debts and desolation.

We write to live. We live to write.

Upgrades and updates

I’ve got plans to add more stuff to this website of mine soon in the form of photos and a showcase for some items from my writing portfolio. Hehe. Stick around if you’re curious 😉

Meanwhile, in other news, I’ve feebly started Nanowrimo 2013. I am not very sure whether I’ll actually finish (since I haven’t exactly had a great track record thus far), but well, at least I have what vaguely looks like a plan for now 😛

A breeze or more

It’s a beautifully quiet and peaceful night at home. The most enjoyable part of it all is being able to have the windows open.

Just a few days ago, we had had to keep everything shut tightly thanks to the haze. But what a difference a day (or two) makes.

Things can change so rapidly. Sometimes,  this feels like a good thing, but at other times, I’m not so sure.

But in the case of these open windows, it’s truly lovely. There’s this breeze going on right now that makes me feel like everything in life will always turn out alright.

I feel calm and not worried about too much right now. A rare moment for someone like me with an overactive brain.

I realise I shouldn’t self-censor my blog posts too much as that makes whatever I do put up online ao mechanical and… polished. Eww.

So I guess I should once again rediscover the art of storytelling for everything I experience in life.

The news and features and other whatnots can stay snug at my work desk and wait for me till Monday comes.

But while I’m not at work, I need to figure out once more how to dream. And how to summon fantasies and tall tales from under my armpits or between my toes or wherever it is such creatures hide.

If only there were more frequent breathers in my daily routine. Perhaps I should deliberately inject some in where needed.

Boss asked me today if I needed a break. I sure do; it’s just that I’m not sure when’s the best time to go for it.
Sigh. Is it queer to say that I sometimes feel like I’ve misplaced my soul someplace?

Mum was just asking me to take time each say to write something I like. I guess she realises how little I write for fun these days.

I’ve realised it too.

Sense and censorship

I find it harder and harder to face up to my inner thoughts and emotions whenever I sit down to blog these days. It’s not the first time I’ve said it, and it probably won’t be the last.

I think back to the days when I first began blogging, way back when I was a student. I can’t recall exactly when I started being serious about blogging, but I gather it was around my second year of university.

Looking back now, I honestly don’t remember a huge chunk of what I had written, but some recurring topics do come to mind as I reflect on that season of my life.

Loneliness. Angst. Melancholic contemplations. Poetry. Elusive posts which sketch the stories of unrequited love (for which I took great pains in order to disguise the identity of the object of my affection, lest he should read any of my posts and discover, to his horror, that a moody, broody girl like me had indeed fallen hard for him).

If there was such a thing as serial blogging, perhaps I would fit the category. Aside from my regular blog which I’d faithfully fill with frequent posts, I also set up several other blogs. Some were for specific purposes (like the one I set up just for a Nanowrimo novel that I was working on) while others were just to vent (I once had an anonymous blog where I wrote to my heart’s content about several injustices in my life).

I even created one to write about things I learned on the job while I was a programmer. It was partly to serve as a public reminder of the knowledge I had gained, but I had also hoped that others might benefit from my efforts.

What a haphazard and somewhat crazy time it was then. I wrote as I pleased, with no qualms about choice of topics or words (within the limits of decency and the confines of my Christian faith, of course).

But now… how I hesitate to put words to the screen. Or even to paper. What has happened? I feel ashamed to be a writer by profession, yet be unable to write sincerely and without the feeling of being restrained.

It’s not even because I desire to broach sensitive or even controversial topics. In fact, being the peacemaker that I am, I would rather not, as I would prefer to dwell on common threads instead of points for discord.

It is just simply the fact that I keep somewhat self-censoring what I want to say. Sometimes for fear of being labelled boring. Or due to worries that I may be misunderstood or judged for my opinions and feelings.

In so doing, I am slowly finding that I have shackled myself. Whatever ounce of creativity I had has vanished into a self-inflicted dungeon of despair.

Sometimes I blame it on my career. In the pursuit of the facts and figures that a good journalistic article requires, I get the notion that I have forgotten how to daydream, how to whip up ridiculous yet intriguing fiction from the depths of my imagination.

I feel shallow as a writer now. Like I’ve lost my soul. The very essence and heartbeat that I believe is necessary to write good prose.

To be honest, I am somewhat disappointed. While I do a job that I love every day, I find that I have allowed my writing output to be dictated by deadlines and KPIs.

I started wanting… dreaming of writing from the heart with the ambition of entertaining and, if I’m lucky enough, even inspiring a reader or two. But have I deviated from that course?

There are so many battles to be fought out there and many have clamoured for my attention. As they say, the pen is mightier than the sword, so surely that brands us writers as warriors of some sort.

But what am i fighting for? Must I even engage in wars of any sort? Can I not just find a cosy little corner and tuck myself away there to write as I please?

These are things that keep me silent when I could be speaking. Awake when I should be sleeping.

I want to say things that matter, words that are worth their weight in gold, that have the power to turn hearts of stone to flesh and bring life where death had before resided. And so I hesitate and wait for that immaculate moment where words in my head string together into neat, little sentences and clear purpose bleeds into the rhymes and metaphors that I craft.

And in my foolishness, I let the stories I could be writing lie abandoned and wasted while time marches on without any promise of second chances.

I still wrestle with these things. I hope someday there will come a resolution.