Monday, June 29, 2009

Writers' Delight

Just finished work. At 4.34am.

So you wanna be a writing superstar? Big house, five cars?


Writers are liars, my dear. And as Anak Si Hamid puts it - writing is not a talent - it's a lot of hard work.


The people of my generation, when they first took to the Net way back in the mid to late 90s, when we all had personal websites, and no blogs (I made mine using an early version of Dreamweaver and notepad. Called it Marks in the Sand, hosted on a Geocities account. It had a Java applet that simulates the surface of water when you run your cursor over it, and used tempus and Morpheus fonts), most of them, it seemed, wanted so desperately to be understood.

Most were (and still are) gay. A lot more wanted to be told that they could write. To be appreciated and perhaps, discovered.

Well, when you learned to write in primary school, you can write. And no one is going to appreciate you. No one. Except yourself.

In those early days, I went online in search of material and also to get my stuff peer reviewed.

There was a website called Helium Peer-review and I used to post my short stories there. It was a site to get feedback on your writings, and to read articles by published authors.

I also joined several writers' forums.

They were good resources for beginners. I learned about the agent system. And about publishing houses and what they do with crank or slush piles(they let it slush for decades).

I received advice from some editors. One of them was a Jewish woman living in Israel. Her name was Elise Teitelbaum, the editor for a right-wing American website.

I had written an unfinished short story about the Jewish people in Auschwitz, in the gas chambers which I turned into radiation chambers. And using Schrodinger's cat theory on calculating half-life and the excellent potential of a life form in dual states of life and death at the same time, wanted to do a classic sci-fi piece.

She thought the story was remarkable simply for the fact that I, a Muslim(more or less), wrote it.

I was just tickled by the fact that a Jewish person had read it. And was not offended (by that time, I had gotten myself kicked out of local forums for antagonising a lot of people, especially PIS people).

So anyway, I wasn't looking to be discovered. Well, yes, but not like a Cinderella fantasy like most of the people writing online at the time.

I was more interested in the processes. The hows. I couldn't give a fuck as to 'who', which to me was unfair and bullshit.

I learned of Project Guttenberg and and the Elf Sternberg Mind Control Story Archive(porn lit, called erotica). And I read a lot of that.

In high school, I used to write 15 short stories a year. Most of them never published. In college, all throughout, I only wrote three. I did a lot of outlines for animated series, though. And comics, of course.

I have been carrying those around for 10 years now. Recently, I saw an opportunity present itself and offered the stories up to some artists. Two are going into the character design stage. I do not know whether they will actually deliver, but it is fun to share my stories - tales that I have kept for so long.

I believe that until I can make at least one of them work, I won't be able to finish any other story.

I want to be published internationally. The comics. My stories, with my name on it. I have done almost everything I could as a writer in Malaysia. I wrote articles, books, TV scripts, animation scripts and full feature film scripts. I even wrote a few ads, as a favour.

These stories, I believe, won't be able to find a home in Malaysia. It could be offensive to a lot of people here. And the comics industry in Malaysia is not as robust as elsewhere.

There might be money, or there might not be. I don't care. It is a childhood dream and I aim to fulfill it.

The stories are simple. Hey, I was 19.

One is a noir private detective shit that actually talks about something else.

Another is an attempt to combine all South-East Asian mythologies into one story.

The third is a sci-fi fantasy with environmental issues and human greed blablabla. You know?

Hey, I was 19. If anyone asks, that's my standard reply.

Me: hey, I was 19 when I wrote those, man. What did I know?

Actually, quite a bit. I've been reading. A lot. I used the Internet as a source of information and instead of researching parse trees online, I was soaking up information on comics and comics writers.

Decided to become a journalist cause Neil Gaiman failed to publish his stories, too, and became a journalist for eight years before he wrote Black Orchid. Time is running out for me, man.

If fortune favours the bold (me), I will be posting perhaps the first issue online. And then scour around for a publisher to take it. Hopefully Karen Berger from DC's Vertigo imprint.

Oh well. It always has been a long shot. We'll see what happens.