A Letter To Myself

It is 1:20 am and I have just finished a book that made me weep. The fan in my room is on, its blades are whirring as fast as they can go but the air is hot and presses into my skin. The highway is singing. It never stops. It lives a hundred thousand lives in flashes of light when the tires of a passing car kiss the particular piece of the highway right in front of my house just for a second before they are a memory and another has taken their place and the warmth they generated.

So. I battle with myself. Again. If I were less or maybe more, I wouldn’t be here on this sticky night that reminds me of home and frangipani flowers. The scent of the sea and island magic brimming in the shadows. I’m overflowing with words. Rustle of the sugarcane. A serenity manufactured by the last rays of a sun too enamored of its brilliance. That shine.

To be from an island country means having the scent of the sea in your veins. It means having an intimate relationship with heat; your body will know heat in ways that your heart cannot comprehend. I forgot that heat. I forgot that music. I forgot the press of the water in the air. I forgot the curl of my hair.

Writing Ronaq means I peel back all the years and find myself again. That little girl I was that I haven’t been for so long. The girl whose dreams captured the nights and ate them up to reveal pearly mornings. That girl I tried so hard to shove into a person who knows who she is what she is and why she is. Writing Ronaq means confronting the lies I have told myself. Of owning the loneliness I intentionally cultivate, of admitting that step I take away because to me being a writer means being in pain. I write best when I hurt. At least I thought so. All the feelings I keep inside instead of spending on someone else. All those feelings I fold into words and shape into stories–not my own because I don’t have one but other people’s. That’s how it works with me.

I forgot the madness of it all. The fever that owned me when I was that girl in Fiji, walking bare feet on hot stones, running around challenging the eye of the hurricane, the dark, the magic, the danger, the madness. I forgot it all. Now I remember. I suppose I am ready to write Ronaq.

What If I Don’t Have Enough Personality to be a Public Personality?

Hi. Hello.

*stares into the void* *adjusts microphone*

I don’t know why my brain waits until it is almost midnight and my family is asleep (thus not around to reassure me) to think about stuff like this. So…here we are. A mid-all right, it’s almost 1 am but it is Ramadan and suhoor is in one hour and I am rambling.

You don’t get to the grand old age of 34 without becoming aware of your own strengths and flaws. I am painfully aware of mine. The flaws, I mean. As I grapple (I love that word, say it with me grapple (what you do with an apple)), with the idea of becoming an author, I feel some pressure to perform my personality. To be funnier, wittier, happier, more charming (damnit, this broke my parallelism but you get my point). The other point is I am none of these things. Well okay, I am a little bit of all of them but I am also Pisces and though my belief in horoscopes is not very solid, I do admit to the qualities that define people of that particular persuasion. Namely, I’m almost always off in my my own world, not very aware of what is happening around me.

It is not that I am not interested in these things, I am. I just have so many other things I am interested in that I am not always present in the 100% definition of the word. You know what I mean? That and I am not sure I can always say what I think. Take Twitter, for instance. I find Twitter incredibly difficult because I feel like I always have to be either smart or funny on there and honestly most days I am neither.

At least with Instagram, I can post pictures which speak a lot more than I do. I am slowly learning to let my personality peek out but honestly, I am still figuring out who I am. I thought I’d be done doing that by now but nope.

And then I wonder if I annoy people because I annoy myself. And then I wonder if I care if I annoy people because most of the times I feel like I don’t and other times I just want people, all people, to like me but that isn’t remotely possible so isn’t it okay to just be myself, whoever that may be, and let people be themselves. Surely the world is big enough for all of us and why am I doing this to myself at 1:12 am, I don’t know.

The great thing is nobody reads this blog so I feel a measure of freedom writing these things. The most difficult thing I am finding is being honest with myself. The second most difficult thing is articulating myself as a real person living in a real world instead of projecting a sliver myself onto a fictional character and having them be my mouthpiece. Another difficult thing is realizing myself in a language and finding myself created anew by the nuances of that language–whatever it may be. Isn’t it a fascinating thought though? Who I am in Fiji-Hindi may not be who I am in English. Both versions of me are me but in complex and different ways. So I have multiple personalities in multiple languages just as I have multiple identities contextualized by the different people I am with at any particular point in time.

As I said, it is 1:17 am.

But back to the original point of this after-midnight ramble, I may not have enough personality to be a public personality but you should see the inside of my head. Actually, you shouldn’t. I want you to like me.

The Arrival of Spring and Other Happy Instances

Winter persisted this time around, didn’t it? I didn’t feel it as acutely as I did the year past because I was, happily, not sick every single time I walked outside (like I was in winter 2017) but the tail end of the season left me frustrated for warmth.

It’s not like I love summer too much but spring, oh spring. Spring is my favourite season.

Flowers are my brand, you see. Actually, trees are too. I took this one in Granville Island:


I should hang out with my DSLR a bit more often. Anyway, so, I sold a book–to be completely clear, my agent sold my book to Scholastic and it very much looks like it is going to be released in 2019.

Since I am being honest here, let me just say that I still am a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing. The idea that people are actually going to be reading a story I wrote  hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I have faith in the story though, faith in the characters and the world I have created. I can say somewhat objectively that the book doesn’t suck.

I know that not everyone will love it but I hope a significant number of readers do. I hope the people it was written for love it.

When a writer becomes an author, certain things change. This change is difficult if you are socially awkward like me and don’t always know what to say what needs to be said. Or if you are contrary like me and prefer to let your work speak for you instead of the other way around.

I am still figuring things out. It’s difficult when your default reaction to the world is to grab a book and disappear into its pages.

I have been feeling quietly desperate these past few weeks because I need to get sunk into another world and life hasn’t let me have this escape. I am currently planning/0 drafting a MG novel, my very first venture into the genre, and the experience has been interesting so far. I am not certain at all that I have captured the voice but I reckon if there is authenticity, I will be satisfied. Maybe. Who knows?

I will try to be more active here in case there are future readers who are interested in the things I think about (the idea boggles my mind but just in case). I can’t yet afford an author  website but it will happen someday. For now though, I really need to get back to writing. My fingers itch.

Reports from Winterland

It occurred to me that I have almost but not quite abandoned this blog and I most certainly don’t want to do that so here I am.

Sort of.

I seem to have lost myself. I haven’t been able to push the world away and sink into a book like I used to. I am not unhappy. In fact, I dare say I am happier than I have been in a long time. But for some reason, I can’t turn my brain off and simply read.

I only finished 10 books in January and it seems the number will be even lower in February. I have a lot of books to read but I can’t stay up past 1 a.m. without vicious headaches and the day is full of things I must do.

It’s not that I have completely stopped reading. I can’t do that. I read a page or five every day from a volume here and there but the speed at which I have read is s l o w.

But the rate at which I acquire books has sped up now that I have some money to spend. *shrug*

But this post wasn’t meant to be anything other than a hello, I’m still alive.

2017: A Wrap

This year was almost dumpster fire, almost but as it is, every bad year has a few good things going for it to save it from being entirely terrible.

Many things have happened this year. Most of which my brain doesn’t want to remember.

I wrote two books. One of them twice. I found a job. I was super sad. People died. I made friends. I lost them. I came to terms with the fact that certain people I like don’t like me as much. I learned that people I didn’t think liked me do. I was able to confront my shortcomings and if not resolve them, take a step toward correcting them. I was able to look into the mirror for once. I looked at the woman in the mirror and said the most difficult things. Like, “You are beautiful. You matter. You do not have to be a certain shape, colour, or size. You deserve good things.”

Stuff like that. I learned that I need time. I learned the acid taste of anxiety. I learned how the darkness can spread inside of you until all you are is a scream no one else seems to hear. I learned that at the end of it all, there are people who care. (And some who don’t.)

I learned that sometimes dreams come true. And I learned about faith.

I did a whole lot of learning but obviously I have a lot more to go.

I also did a whole lot of reading which is why I’m here in the first place. To do a wrap up of my reading habits this past year.

I read 249 books this year. This is my lowest reading count in 6 years. However, the number isn’t truly illustrative of all the reading I have done. This year, unlike other years, I didn’t count the (large) number of manga titles I consumed. I also read a fair number of unpublished manuscripts as well as Korean webtoons in the original Korean. I reckon the number would be much higher were these volumes all counted.

  • 127 of the 249 books were from my own TBR pile. The rest of them were from the library.
  • I read 24 works of nonfiction this year.

All in all, I feel like I read some pretty good books this year. Check out The Book Wars for a longer post on the books I loved in 2017.

So I end 2017 with the hope that you guys are well, happy, and holding on.

Revisions: The Second Step

So you have finally finished reading your magnificent work of art and managed not to die from the shame of having written it (or maybe that’s just me). You have underlined and annotated and shred apart your self-esteem until all that remains of it are fading memories.

You have questioned your every plot point and identified weaknesses that make your magnum opus slightly less magnummy. Now what?

Well, if you are me, you isolate those questions:

Stage 2a

Then you answer them:

Stage 2b

Obviously every writer will have their own set of rules of what works for them and what doesn’t. But for me, the act of writing out things works similarly to thinking out loud. When I put my questions into writing, I can answer them better.

I usually don’t pants my way through a book and this experience was horrific enough that I hope never to do so again. However, some stories demand to be told in certain ways and for me The Wild Ones demanded to be told in a wild away: forging ahead often blindly.

Now that the book is written, I can go back and recreate a more solid foundation and build from there.

But man, the plot holes.

Happy writing!