Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Working with Youngsters

It was 2003, and I was in a chair, bawling like a baby. I was 23 years old, I didn't know what to do with my life, and I was crying for the first time in five years.

Had a degree in computer science, majoring in networking, but I didn't know how to configure a stupid router. I knew enough of coding to build websites using notepad and stealing a lot of java applets.

"Website building skills will be as ubiquitous as Microsoft Office skills, my friend, with Dreamweaver and all," said a dumbass know-it-all.

Yeah, I mean, copy, paste, troubleshoot. Any idiot can master that in three months, right? We were at the end of the first computer bubble, or the second. Who gives a fuck? It was the end of something, and I did not want to be a system analyst or a programmer and make billions of dollars.

I read up on Neil Gaiman's path. He failed to publish what he wrote, so he became a journalist.

I thought, "Okay, I'm going to fail get published and then be a journalist for eight years and then quit, then be a critically-acclaimed comics writer."

I should have known.

I failed to fail getting published. I got published. Short story.

My father was damn pissed off.

"I told you to be a doctor! A doctor means free meds! And free bragging to other people with their loser kids! You suck, dude!"


"Who you gonna write for? Tamil Nesan? Harakah?"

My other family members were like, "What are you going to write?"

"Comic books," I said.

"Can you make money from comic books?"

"Well, they're selling x million number of comic books in the US, and in Japan, manga is (was) a three billion dollar business. US dollars."

"What about Malaysia?"

"Nah. All comics lose money."



"Dude, I'll get you a job with the Government."

So. I had no support from my family. I had around RM2,000 in savings - enough for four months of living in squalor. No help, no contacts, nothing.

All I had was my wit, and my will. And a bone to pick with the universe.

So I spent RM1,250 on a self-help training course, and got a job as a cashier at a pharmacy.

Back at the training thing, I was surrounded by people who sounded like Apple zealots. Bored with the stupidity of it all, I turned inwards. I faced myself for the first time. It was like that Luke Skywalker scene in Empire, without Darth Vader, lightsabers or Yoda.

"What do you want? What do you want? What do you want?" Repeated the asshole in front of me. We were in a dyad.

"What do you want? What do you want? What do you want?"


That stunned him for a while. Then, he continued the exercise.

"What do you want? What do you want? What do you want?"

And when next I opened my mouth, I told him this.

"I want to write. I want to write books. Comics. Movies. TV series."

I was crying. And he shut up.

That was my big breakthrough. I knew WHAT I want. What was left was simply HOW.

I sent my resume to 52 companies with writing jobs. I landed six interviews. The first one was with NST. The rest, I've repeated here so many times.

I have written a book, am writing another one, have written 12 movies, three got made so far, and helped do 3800 hours of TV in a year.

I have written so much, I puked blood. Literally.

A lot of that is because so many helped me along the way, and I have to give them props. But the key, was in knowing what I wanted. It's not difficult, really. I believe you just need to face yourself and ask what is it that you really want. Not who, not why. Just what. And go from there.

When you ask this question, your ego cannot come into play. You must be exact, detailed and very, very clear. If you did it with no ego, then all the hows will fall into place. If you focus and be real with yourself, and not be a snivelling, lying little coward, the force of your actions can be extremely powerful... as long as you don't stop to measure how powerful it is and start comparing it like an extra dick.

Of course, for young people, maybe the best course is to lock them in a room and let them cry. Like a lot of parents do.