Monthly Archives: July 2013

On Writing

Another little something I came up with for work purposes, partially linked to an attempt to start a writing society in school.

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Writing is hard work.

Take for instance fantasy writer George R. R. Martin, the author of the Song of Ice and Fire series. The first book, Game of Thrones, was released in 1996. Three years later, a sequel was released, followed by another in a year’s time. What followed was a five year gap before the fourth title hit bookshelves worldwide, and six years after, in 2011, the fifth book finally arrived.

This translates to five books published over the span of 15 years, with two more in the pipeline. Fans of the series are somewhat worried about its fate since Martin is already 65 years old, and we estimate that at his current pace of writing it might take him another dozen years or so to complete the series.

Writing is hard work, gentlemen.

I used to dabble with writing in my younger days. As a student, I had a captive audience of one in the form of my English teachers, whom I inundated with what I thought were well-written stories. They probably weren’t – I’m aware that the teachers had pretty much no choice but to read all of our works – but my grades weren’t appalling, so I guess they weren’t all terrible either.

I started by adapting pieces of fiction that I’d read elsewhere, writing about stories based on whatever books, TV shows or even games I had recently perused. After a while I started trying my hand at writing my own original stories, with a brief foray into the land of poetry (from which I was quickly banished).

In Secondary 3, I applied to join the Creative Arts Programme, a writing workshop/camp targeted at secondary 2 and 3 students. After I failed to get past the application stage, it occurred to me that perhaps I should have put in more effort into compiling a portfolio, rather than simply relying on the recently returned English assignments I had lying around.

Good writing is indeed hard work.

More recently, I’ve been doing more reflective writing. It’s difficult to squeeze out the time to do so these days, but when I do, I find it oddly calming. The act of writing is, for me, somewhat like a form of meditation – it helps to clear my mind.

My friends, writing truly is hard work, but it is also its own reward. Other than simply allowing you to practise your linguistic skills, it focuses your mind and even allows you to create whole worlds of your own. If it is an old love of yours that has gone dormant, or even if it is something you have never really felt connected with, I urge you to pick up a pen (or keyboard) and let the magic of words flow forth.

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Sunday in the Park with Mac

A little something I’d generated as a sample for my students. Figured I might as well post it here.

It all started with a burger craving. It was nearly time for dinner, and with the weather so fine outside, I headed out to Bishan Park to procure a McDonald’s meal for myself.

McDonald's rendang burger

The Golden Arches are a quintessentially American symbol, but the burger that has most recently captured my attention is a distinctly local one – the rendang burger. The fact is that the McDonald’s menu available in Singapore has adapted to suit local tastes, offering other items such as the Durian Crunch McFlurry and the McSpicy. This can even be seen in the range of sauces available, with choices ranging from the humble chilli sauce to another local favourite – McDonald’s curry sauce.

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As I looked out of the fast food restaurant and considered the predominantly local makeup of its patrons, it struck me that many of these people had probably grown up eating food from McDonald’s – despite its foreign origin, it has become very much a part of the local community. Aside from its food, the ridiculous popularity of its collectibles (Hello Kitty and Minion toys come to mind) serves to confirm that it is very much in sync with the Singaporean psyche.

Does the local-foreign integration end there? As I left the restaurant, I noticed that it wasn’t just local Singaporeans that were enjoying a day out in the park. The assimilation of McDonald’s is perhaps a testament to the idea that foreigners can become very much Singaporean indeed!