Category Archives: writing

More travel writing

A bit of a cheap thrill, but having this published makes me feel almost like a real journalist… =P

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Published!

So I’m now (kinda) a published writer! On a platform that has a readership higher than one, anyway. =)

Almost (but not quite) a year ago, I’d resolved to start blogging on a weekly basis – if nothing else, to keep the writing muscle active. Along the way, I’ve struggled with generating content (I lead a rather boring life, I suppose) and occasionally missed the target. I also started following some travel-hacking blogs such as One Mile at a Time and The MileLion, and eventually ended up doing some travel-related posts of my own, primarily to record my own memories of travel experiences.

One of the wife’s colleagues apparently saw one of those posts and commented that people would be interested in reading them. Since I was essentially creating content that’s rather similar in style to the stuff I was reading, I figured this was probably true, and one day I emailed Aaron of The MileLion about the possibility of guestwriting.

And so, here we are. Since I now have a platform with relatively decent readership to contribute to, I think I’ll be pushing most of my leisure writing energies in that direction for now – other than mirroring my existing content, I intend to eventually contribute a few posts of my own.

I guess that updates on this platform will be becoming sporadic once more. All in all, I’m rather glad about how this whole thing has turned out!

Boxer’s Trip

I don’t know what came over me earlier.

It was so odd, seeing all the animals running after me – I didn’t think so many of them would send me off like that. Comrade Napoleon must have made special allowances for that. It must have been this confusion that got to me – I’d misheard what Clover was saying to me and reacted in a shameful man-like way, trying to smash my way out of the ambulance. I hope I didn’t cause too much trouble.

It was nice that Benjamin was there as well; good ol’ Benjamin. I was astonished to see him running. I guess he really cares about me, though he’d never say it – nope, not Benjamin, that silly donkey. He acts like he doesn’t care about anything; that the Revolution doesn’t excite him in the slightest. He’s so cynical. I keep telling him that we must have faith, that we must trust in Napoleon’s plan.

That’s real faith, you know? Benjamin doesn’t get that; he doesn’t understand that there are good days and there are bad, but this is all within Napoleon’s plan. Trust Napoleon, work hard, and in the end we will all get to Sugarcandy Mountain.

Comrade Napoleon is always right.

It’s not that easy, though. Some of the others think that it’s effortless for me, but it’s not. It’s not easy, working hard. But that’s how I help, you know? Do what Napoleon says and put my heart and soul into it, and I help make everyone’s lives better.

I will work harder.

I’m so tired. The ambulance seems to be slowing – we must be near the end, now. I will work harder once I’m better, but right now I think I will just rest for a bit. I think… maybe, this time, I’ve earned it.

(This is pretty much fan fiction – following up Boxer’s last appearance in Animal Farm.)

WOGenesis

Sir, the report is in. They
say you had an
Ashley Madison
Account.

That can’t be. Clearly,
I was hacked!
We must improve
Security.

Sir, that will affect
Efficiency.
Thousands of workers across
the organisation-

It’s fine. We can never
Be too careful with
Security.
Make it happen.

(Inspired by a theory the wife had regarding the elevation of internet security.)

30-day Writing Challenge

So some of us in the office are embarking on a 30-day writing challenge (where we would, for a month, attempt to write stuff based on prompts surfaced by each other). I suppose that, for the next few weeks, I might just opt to share some works churned out during this period.

Writing Itch

I haven’t really written anything in so so long.

I attended the first Writers’ Society session today, and – well, honestly, it’s a mess. I guess that’s what happens when creative types attempt to run the show! Will probably need to give the kids more guidance.

Nonetheless, that session has reminded me of the hobby I used to really enjoy, and I find myself really missing the act of creative writing. Perhaps it’s time to get back into the game?

On Writing

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

writers soc advert


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.

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.

IMG_2337 IMG_2339

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!

I should have listened to them

I should have listened to them [32/40]
(Original)

My parents have always discouraged me from lying, but I never did listen to them. They always thought that I would end up as a crook of some sort. Especially Ma. She always told me how she would disown me if I were ever convicted of some villainous act.

Today, I make my living by a vile profession.

I remember how it had all started. I was in junior school then, and I had broken a vase in the school garden. On recollection, a vase on display in the school garden could not have cost very much, but I was young then and everything was expensive to me. There was also the problem of studying in an English-style boarding school, where the discipline masters were unreasonably harsh and their caning skills incredibly well-honed. Or so I had been told.

With no intention of finding out the truth of the stereotype, I withdrew from the scene of the crime, thankful that no one had seen me.

I then proceeded to create an alibi. I went on to delibrately create a scene in the cafeteria, letting all the coins in my wallet drop to the ground. Yes, I know it was not the best of scenes to create, but I was only nine then. Anyway, it served its purpose. A total of three other students noticed me. I know. I counted.

Today, I am forced to create alibis on a monthly basis.

The next day, the much-afeared discipline master made an appearance during assembly.

“Does anyone here have anything to do with the broken vase in the garden? If so, I suggest he own up immediately.”

The discipline master had a disconcerting habit of clawing a nearby smooth surface while he spoke. I was trying to avoid the image of myself being the one clawed. Yet, I kept silent.

With the usual threats of punishment if no one confessed, the discipline master dismissed the school. I got away with the crime, scot-free.

On further hindsight, my attempt to create an alibi was totally useless, not to mention poor, as no discipline master would check through the hundreds of students just to find out who had broken a cheap vase. The damage had been done, however. I discovered, or thought I had, that you can be proven innocent of a crime with the proper techniques, dishonesty being foremost of them.

I should have listened to them. Ma was right.

Today, I am a lawyer.


16-year-old writer’s commentary:

Extremely disappointing piece. When I typed through it, I discovered many places where I could have improved the style of writing, not to mention the content. Well, exam conditions. My excuse. And in an examination which -mattered-, as in well it decides whether or not I get into the JC of my choice. Well, this is one of the papers which does so anyway.

As you can see most of the story was redundant. I even said so toward the end. Well, not so explicitly, but I may as well have. The whole thing was meant to build up the idea that ‘I’ was a criminal and twist it by using the stereotype of the evil lawyer. Could have been done much more skillfully, I repeat once more, but now I think the idea was quite sad. But it was either that or write a (more or less) descriptive piece on a post-apocalyptical scene. Didn’t really want to try that because of my fantasy/science-fiction tendencies. So. Well.

At least it’s still an A1 grade, but when practically everyone gets that anyway, it’s kinda sad. Oh well.

Jealousy

Jealousy [37/40]
(Original)

It all began with the buttermilk cookies.

I was over at Alma’s apartment the other time and lounging on her sofa when she failed to tribute me with buttermilk cookies. Having been my fiancée for some years now, she knew that I absolutely loved them, and would normally come up with a platter whenever I visited. Baked by herself, of course.

She’d said that she didn’t have time these few days to make them, and I’d have left it as such – I am, after all, an understanding man – if I had not chanced upon an empty platter, with cookie crumbs on it, by the sink.

Repeated occurrences of this phenomenon led me to conclude that my original hypothesis was correct – I was being cuckolded.

I did not, as most irrational men would, immediately fly into a rage. Such was for the undisciplined, the weak of will. I pondered over what I should do in such an occasion, whether I should approach her about it, or whether I should quietly give up the girl who no longer loved me. Then I remembered how she’d claimed to love me, and all the wonderful years we’d had together; then, I flew into a rage.

I came up with a plan, of course. No educated man should ever jump into a course of action unprepared. I would follow her every action somehow and find out who she’d been seeing and confront him later when he was alone and give him a walloping. Nothing less than what a proper English gentleman would do, and I was nothing short of an English gentleman.

A week later I had my chance. I was at Alma’s watching the television when I noted her exiting the apartment with a platter of cookies in hand – the audacity! I was still there! – and thus I followed her. She didn’t notice me, of course. I did not go through those years in boarding school without picking up some useful sneaking skills.

Peeved as I was about the faithlessness of my fiancée, I was surprised to see her lay the plate on the ground. Perhaps she did not feel as much for this new man as I’d thought.

As she moved away from the platter and returned up the stairs, I looked at the adorable puppy dog munching away at the cookies. In such a situation, there was only one thing for an English gentleman to do – I gave the canine a kick on its rear.


16-year-old writer’s commentary:

Alma is another female game character name. Couldn’t think of anything else at the time.

The writer in this piece is a stereotypical stuffy ol’ English gentleman, the type who stops at goodness-knows-when to drink tea. Ends up making a fool of himself, it’s a jibe. I don’t really like this piece that much, but I was desperate. I’d spent the earlier 25 minutes trying to come up with an idea, rejecting the idea of writing a tale in which at the end it is revealed that the writer is in fact the physical incarnation of Jealousy as it was too fantastical.

The term ‘fly into a rage’ is extremely amusing to me, thus I used it obsessively in one paragraph. Something about some charades my class had once, and to mime it (well cheating partially), this group wrote the word ‘rage’ on the board and someone flapped his arms and smashed into the word.

There are many ironic instances of gentlemanly pride in this piece, and I believe I’ve made them blatantly obvious. I somewhat like how the writer is proud of his years of boarding school and the thieving skills he’d picked up from them. Something I thought was more subtle was how his ‘plan’ was extremely weak and ill-concieved. So much for education.

Aside from an attack on the stuffy gentleman, I wrote this in an anti-education mood as well. I’m not against education specifically, but the way in which grades matter so much and all just horrifies me. There’s a common name for this stuff – The System. But I’m sure you’ve all had enough exposure to anti-System sentiments, so I shan’t go on.


27-year-old addendum:

I find it rather ironic that I am now, once again, a part of The System.