Thursday, August 20, 2009


Last Saturday, my editor/publisher gave his feedback on 5 of the 28 stories that I've submitted. He said mostly I need to work on my rhythm. Stories have rhythm too, just like songs. He suggested that I read the stories out loud and hear what they sound like. He also said that I'm self-censoring myself. Some stories have potential to become erotic, but I stopped it before it could go down that path, LOL! A good example is 'Counting Raindrops'.

One story, 'Water Warrior' was really off though. He said there were too many things there that I did not know eg bank robbery, smoking ganja, etc. Maybe I'll drop it for this round, I'm going to need a lot of time to re-write that. I shall rework it into 1 of my boarding school's unique culture stories for my next collection.

Meanwhile, I got a big surprise while attending an author's creative writing workshop on 9 August. I met Kak Teh for the first time! And she was sitting at the same table as myself, facing me too. A quick personal intro by this Malay woman in tudung made me think she was Kak Teh, and it turned out that I was right, hehe... Didn't expect her to be soft spoken though, her writer's voice is very crisp and strong.

We did a bit of freewriting during the session. Below is a story that I managed to churn out from the workshop, 1 of my Haj ones. Interestingly, I kicked start 'Hide and Seek', another Haj story, from a freewriting exercise during a creative writing workshop too. I guess my holy land pieces need special recall techniques to start off. They are kind of tough:)

Street Singers - 1st Cut

Orange light spreads across the sky. Sunrise. It is our second day on the holy land. My three roommates and I have just left the Al-Haram mosque. The crowd from the Subuh Jemaah prayers shuffles ahead of us. A pilgrim shoves my left shoulder, another one on my right. More and more people knock against my arms and my back as they rush to overtake us. I adjust my white Telekung and neatly tuck in the few strands of stray hair on my forehead.

Along the way, we saw Indian merchants busy opening their outlets. The men quickly roll up their front shutters to reveal colourful displays of goods. Road-side sellers have already laid their mats on the ground and started business. “Nasi kerabu, nasi lemak, mee goreng!” A woman in black robe and long Tudung with a white veil covering her lower face calls out to us. She is seated on a low stool. I glance at the familiar triangular packets of food in front of her. A Tabung Haji officer told us that Patani settlers often take advantage of the Haj season. This is the time of the year to make money from local delicacies that remind Malaysian pilgrims of their home.

Chanting resonates from afar. Its’ intriguing melody and crispness are haunting. The beautiful, high pitch voices seem to have risen from further up the street. It is accompanied by loud rhythmic clapping. The synchronised singing becomes louder and louder as we move along...