My Own Drum

Fiction (Dreaming in Digital)

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As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to do two things: draw and write.

Back in Year 1 (Standard 1), I recall we were asked in class by our teachers to fill out some form, and one of the questions asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wanted to put down ‘artist/writer’. Instead, upon seeing all my friends writing ‘doctor’, I chickened out and wrote ‘doctor’, too. What a wuss!

I love(d) drawing. I started drawing from the moment I had enough hand-eye coordination to hold a pencil and make some squiggly lines into a picture.

I still remember how my father would come home from work with heaps of computer paper – the kind that went into an old-school, dot matrix printer. Yes, with perforations and everything. Reams and reams of paper, all connected, to be ripped apart at the perforated seams by myself and my sisters for our childish doodles.

Only I didn’t stop there. I drew on art blocks my mum bought us specifically to draw on, in exercise books from school, and notepads that were meant for grocery lists. I remember I filled up one such notepad, cover to cover, with an illustrated story (an early ‘graphic novel’, if you will), about a boy snake and a girl snake who met, fell in love, got married, got pregnant. The pregnant girl snake demanded that the boy snake go to the witch’s garden to steal nutritious vegetables for her to eat (“Or my baby will die,” I remember were the girl snake’s words). Yes, I did not yet appreciate the fact that instead of pumpkin and watercress, snakes prefer frogs and rats. But I digress.

In the early days I liked drawing “friendly ghosts” – not really Casper, but just ghosts who had skirts and lipsticks and handbags. Later on, I drew more talking animals like snakes, rabbits, dogs and cats. Later still, I got into drawing unicorns and girls and people. I was always told how well I drew.

These days… I don’t draw so much. I doodle when I’m on the phone. I can really draw some interesting, nice things that way. But generally, as a way to pass the time, I don’t do it anymore. And it makes me sad. I always tell myself I want to draw more – heck, I even bought myself an art block so I would just start drawing stuff – but it still sits collecting dust in the shelf, under the Foxtel decoder.

Now, I want to talk about writing – something I am obviously more healthily engaged in (what with my blog, and having to fill out paperwork, tax returns, badgering immigration people, etc).

Back in the days of my childhood, the budding writer in me managed to write (and finish!) a few works that, when I revisited them as an older, more mature writer, made me snort with laughter. How unsophisticated and inane! But what can you expect from an 8-year-old? Or a 10-year-old?

I remember my best friend Lin and I would create illustrated works of serious writing. Not bad for 10 and 11-year-olds. Series about teenage ghost fighters (culled from my favourite cartoon, The Real Ghostbusters – how ironic!). And about teenage space travellers, set in the future. With lengthy descriptions of their appearance and clothing. We even collaborated on some of these. I still think they’re pretty good.

Later on, in my teenage years, I would write romantic dramas about young people in hospices, dying of some incurable but noble diseases, the inmates falling in love with each other. My depiction of sex scenes were incredibly humorous. No other way to describe it, really. Just… totally out of those filthy romance novels Lin used to borrow from her aunt, bring to school and lend me (with the ‘good parts’ conveniently dog-eared for me to skip right to). Ahh, good times.

I have been trying for the last 5 – 10 years to finally write something coherent, and of substance. It is my dream to publish a best-selling novel before I get too old. Geez, but where and when to start? Here and now is the only answer.

But I am just too scared that my ideas are stupid and the story will stagnate. As it has done for much of my mid-to-late teens. Every time I hit upon something good, I’d advance full steam… then lose it all a few months later in tears of frustration. In my early twenties, I tried again and lost faith.

Now, I want to try again.

I have found these links pretty useful and humorous, not to mention inspiring:

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction (Part 1)

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction (Part 2)

I want it t be my project over the holidays to at least come up with a skeleton of a book for me to fill in with meat and fat over time. Fingers crossed.

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