Tag Archives: writing

no, I do not want to see you again

you remind me of the endless what ifs and what if nots

humanity’s puny side

blindness

a pawn’s feelings

Advertisements

Bibliographiesuck

Correcting bibliographic references to match a given format must be one of the most soul-crushing tasks in the world. There is clearly something so arcane, so disquieting about these formats that makes people desist and flee in horror when they encounter the first requirement beyond “Title”. It’s inexplicable, really, especially when most issues can be solved with a quick Google search.

Elegance (JusJoJan)

In terms of appearance, elegance is a crisp, tailored silhouette; glossy, neat hair; tinging the classic with contemporary; a slick of makeup – light lips for strong eyes and the other way round.

An elegant personality is intelligent; sensitive; tactful; generous in spirit; and when need be, is firm and takes the high road.

In writing, elegance is prose that is succinct and evocative, not verbose.

Elegance is substance in a fresh and light robe.

Collections – JusJoJan

The main collection that I’ve consciously undertaken, and that I try to keep up to this day, is a postcard collection. I’ve always loved stationery and paper things (from a quick browse through my supplies stash, I could say I collect fancy pens and notebooks too), so I would just have to stop at whatever stationery or newsagent shops I’d randomly pass by and pick out a postcard or two. Landscape photographs, drawings of daily life, animals…those were my favourite subjects. Whenever my father went overseas on a business trip, he’d bring me back the best he could find, which I’d carefully stash away in a white cardboard Ikea box meant for CDs. The postcards that first come to mind are a bit larger than normal. One is a pastel colour drawing of a tropical fruit stall, and another is a photograph of an oryx’s head from the front, its delicate, long horns pointing to the sky. I haven’t bought a postcard in a long time now, mainly because I tend to travel to places that I’ll see again. Also, since the practice of sending postcards has dramatically fallen into disuse, those that I do manage to find on weekend trips here and there tend to be rather dated and sad. The last postcard I received was about two years ago now, and depicts animals from South Africa.

When I was younger I used to collect stamps too. Shops used to sell “multi-packs” of assorted stamps from far-flung and tiny countries, tightly wrapped in thick cellophane. I’d also pilfer some doubles from the old collections of my mother and her siblings from when they were children. It felt very grown-up to be handling such official-looking, “historical” and fragile documents. I had a few books, each page of which was lined with a low plastic sleeve and alternated with a thin, translucent shiny paper sheet that made a very satisfying, official and solid sound when turned.

I guess I could also say that I’ve always collected books…? Lately I’ve been “collecting” Russians (see “Reading Russians” post below) and what I suppose could be defined as modern classics.

Motivation (JusJoJan)

Perhaps because it’s still early days, but thankfully motivation has definitely not been lacking. I’ve always loved writing and reading, but since I’ve decided to try my hand at it properly, it’s as if a tap opened for a stream has let forth a waterfall. Crazy and geeky as it may sound, I cannot stop writing and reading – if I’m not, I’ll be thinking about something I do want to write about, when can I get back to the book I’m reading, ooh that’s an interesting thought I’ll scribble something about it later… The will to write even appears to me. It’s a churning multicolour force, recondite but very much pulsating, like a primordial instinct.

So, since starting, I’ve always managed to dig out a few minutes to note down my thoughts (although admittedly at the expense of sleep or efficiency). Because they just have to come out, really.

That isn’t to say that I haven’t encountered roadblocks. Actually, that is precisely what I’ve encountered: road blocks. Something on the road from Point A of I Have To Get This Out in Words to Point B of Written Words On Subject X that blocks my flow of thoughts. How to channel this energy into cogent words around a topic. Which topic? Which word to use? Usually this happens if I have a lot on my mind and cannot or will not allow the words to come.

But if I sit still for a minute and find or acknowledge the reason, then they flow again.

Creating

I love looking at this chart because in my view, it simply serves to reinforce the notion that we alone can know ourselves and, consequently, what is best for us. There is no one right way – to produce, to love, to live – but only our way.

(chart from the ever-superlative http://www.brainpickings.org)

Reading Russians

My reading list is currently dominated by the Russian authors of yore. It all started when I first read Anna Karenina about a year ago. I’d always thought it was an overdramatic tale of unrequited love… boy, was I wrong. I just could not put that book down. I lugged it with me everywhere I went, stealing a furtive read every second I got the chance – in the subway, queuing for the cash machine, anywhere – even a few pages would do. It had been the first time in years that a book enraptured me that way. I absolutely loved it – Tolstoy’s intricate characterization brought each figure so alive, which reminded me of the paradox that the more one expresses one’s most intimate thoughts, the more “universal” our experience becomes. It’s one of those books I can imagine reading and rereading again, and there will always be a new theme, a new image, a new reflection to be found. It’s more than a plot with colourful characters: because it speaks to the psyche, it’s a book about life itself. [You can imagine how sore I was when I found out that a girl I’d just met was reading it and her response to my gushing was a diplomatic grab to find something good to say, which was “yeh, yeh, the author is clever, I see what he’s doing”. I found a whole lot of post-(only post?)colonial self-centredness in this. The finding was not dispelled by the fact that when we visited a bookshop in an ex-colony, which was renowned for focusing on lit from that ex-colony, MsClever only browsed white Western authors. Honey, you can’t even pronounce “th” properly, and it’s one of the defining sounds of your language. But this will be the subject of another post.]

Right now, I’m almost halfway through Nikolaj Gogol’s “Dead Souls”. I decided to buy it because (a) he’s Russian (as much as I find national labels vacuous, for the above reasons it seems to be something of a guarantee for me lately) (b) walking home after a rejuvenating night out, I chanced upon a plaque commemorating the place where he wrote part of it (c) the name was intriguing. Solid reasons, eh? So I dug into it, expecting a dark tale of despair and depravity. Well, not the case so far. I’d say that the predominant tone is rather caustic sarcasm and cynicism, which sometimes take a downright hilarious turn. Yesterday I laughed out loud at a description of an heavily drunken party among men, whose conversations grew in a crescendo of absurdity; when the discussion turned to politics, “they effortlessly solved a multitude of intractable problems” thanks to the sweet nectar. Unfortunately, many English versions available online seem to be rather stuffy and omit this genius phrase. The power of a good translation!