Almost There…

Sunset at Ipoh city, Malaysia.

I am in a state of excitement.

It’s been two weeks, I’ve been operating on four hours sleep per day with a brief nap in between, and somehow I’ve gotten my word count from 60k+ to 78,000 words. I am aiming for 81k by…today, and then I will spend Sunday preparing the things I need to submit it for an apprenticeship due the end of this month.

So far, my attempts to stir interest from various people about my Malaysian supernatural-thriller noir, as my mentor calls it, have been unsuccessful. I’ve tried submitting it for the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writer Award, and to Angry Robot. To no avail.

Oh, wait. Come to think of it, what I actually sent to Angry Robot were the opening chapters of my fantasy novel The Prince of Engmar, not the Malaysian novel. I also sent those opening chapters exclusive to one fantasy/scifi literary agent, only to receive no reply despite the polite inquiry, since September. I’m losing track of what I’ve sent to whom! Or perhaps it’s just the lack of sleep.

I am a bit disappointed because my fantasy novel, which I am so much more eager to write than my Malaysian novel, which I believe is so much more exciting, hasn’t garnered any interest. Ah well. I have to keep going.


I am immensely thrilled because yesterday I hit upon a major revelation for my main character of Malaysian Dark (working title). Without any planning at all, I wrote a background scene which made me understand why he acts the way he does. And just a few hours ago, a chapter I thought would be immensely boring threw up a much more interesting plot development.

I love moments like these, when despite having planned out the structure and direction of the novel, you allow the characters to breathe and act as they would…and something pops up that makes you believe in the story again. To be honest I was losing faith in my novel more than once over the months. But I kept writing, telling myself I don’t have to make it perfect the first time, and kept thinking that I would fix the damn thing in the rewriting. As long as you keep upping the word count.

A part of me would be thrilled for the people at AIF to acknowledge my writing, but at the same time, I have reservations. I’m not sure I can afford the exorbitant apprenticeship fees. I am pretty sure the fund they say is available for successful applicants would not be available to me. My postgraduate work visa says “no recourse to public funds”. As my New Zealander mentor David Bishop once amusingly put it, he and I were “foreign scum”. I shall leave it up to the Heavens. And to the AIF judges. And put a damn lot more work into it.

At the very least, I would have a novel NEARLY done. It’s all paying off, after two years of slogging with a Masters achieved in between! I have to believe it is all worth it. Another month, if I push myself, I might actually have the first draft of my very first novel.

And then the real work begins.


On another note, still getting those job rejections. I’ve told my parents to stop asking if I have one yet. I mean, really, to be frank it’s getting depressing. And then I’d be reaching for those bananas, my favourite depression killer. Although I’m still shooting off job applications, I am resigning myself to the fact I have to somehow support myself through freelance writing work. My dwindling funds are constantly on my mind.

Kinta Nature Park, Batu Gajah, Malaysia.


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Filed under Angry Robot, Apprenticeships, Depression, Fantasy, Novel, Photography, Publisher, Thriller, Work, Writing

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