Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Writer in (the cusps of a) Crisis

Fiction is essentially a lie. A fabricated tapestry created to deliver a certain message, entertain, as well as unravel the truth.

A loyal lover of stories, I began writing soap operas whilst in grade school (SD). The laughter I heard as friends read the scribbled out, dirty paper in their hand, was the seed to what I have become today. Though, my journey actually began years back, with a sketch book and a pencil, I soon learned how transcendent stories are and could be.

I'd like to think that these kids are occupied in the world of stories
Be it a drawing, a sculpture, a play, music, or a book, stories permeate through our lives. For centuries, human beings have taken inspiration from nature, molded their own recipes of a good time and spread it around through word of mouth around the bonfire. Today, with the advent of the Internet and "endless connectivity", it has become more and more difficult, yet easy to write, as well as share our work with others.

Even so, at seventy-something blogposts and two children's books, I have yet to complete my very first novel, despite folders upon folders of first sentences and first paragraphs, despite receiving multiple inspirations each and every week, despite having the drive to write in long form. A professor at a management school in Jakarta once told me that writing first requires intuition, then critical thinking. A writer is asked to spell out the problem, insert words and curate paragraphs with his/her heart. "Let the words flow onto the page," he'd say, "Once you're done, you can use your head to edit and polish the piece."

Rather than feeling stuck, I feel like I am only at the cusp of this maze that I need to go into.

With miles to go and hypothetical mountains to climb, I realize the amount of sitting that I have to do, instead of walking, running or hiking. To create a world is one thing, but to maintain is the other. As I continue to divide my time between Jakarta and New York, two great cities, which are challenges to maintain, I realize the level of pains invested into preserving the multiple monuments that grace both concrete jungles, in addition to the level of awareness and swiftness required to fix everyday problems that impact each cities' citizens on major proportions.

Writing, perhaps, looks quite similar to building and maintaining cities. Sometimes, when it comes to projects such as a children's book, one has the privilege to write short sentences. Moreover, one can work together with another individual, such an illustrator, to complete the book. Sometimes, a project requires millions of words, carefully chosen to lay out the story. Novels, which I believe begs for the latter, are my current challenge. After multiple trials and multiple loose ends, I wonder if I am going against the grain set by the professor mentioned above.

Do I lack the intuition required to complete a novel? Perhaps, I need to learn to trust myself, both heart and head, in order to overcome this optional mountain in front of me. There seems to be a lot of maybes and perhapses that I wonder if I will ever get there.

My heart during the writing process and during feedback time

One part of me wants to continue on with what I'm doing, which includes quietly typing away in my room and not allowing anyone to see my work. Another part of me wants to try something new. In the past two days, I have chosen the second route. I have begun "leaking" excerpts of the stories that I have yet finished, in hopes to garner some new inspiration or even some feedback. Of course, my heart quivers at the idea of vulnerably putting my babies out there, but my head knows that the possible pain will not be as bad as open heart surgery.

So, here goes. For the past two days, I have begun this new initiative, if I may say so, to place paragraphs of my stories into the world. Some are five years old, while others are still fresh from the oven. I began with At My Fingertips, a codename for one of my current projects, which chronicles the life of a Jakartan twentysomething as she tries to find her place in the world. It may or may not be inspired by my own experiences between Asia and America, and it may or may not entail common issues faced by a new generation of Jakartan young adults at the edge of living independent lives.

My fingers are crossed in terms of how this would all pan out. Please let me know what you think. If you're a reader, let me know your experience with choosing books and digesting stories. If you're a writer, let me know how you get through the muddy stage of finishing a project. If you're an artist, let me know how you move from idea to actualization. And if you're just a human being, please let me know whatever you think about this new project.

Writer in the early stages of crisis

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