Even John Steinbeck can be dull sometimes

It takes many months for me to have completed reading ‘In Dubious Battle’. After enjoying marvelous stories by John Steinbeck in ‘East of Eden’, ‘Of Mice and Men’ and ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, it is hard to believe that ‘In Dubious Battle’ is written by the same author who is my most favorite author, in par with Thomas Hardy.

‘In Dubious Battle’, now a major motion picture, is so vocal about labor movement and its relation with politic at the time when the book is composed. I don’t really mind about that. John Steinbeck is said to put much focus about politic. Reading ‘Travels in Charley: In Search of America’ makes me realizing his huge love for his country. He is a nationalist by the heart.

What disturbs me so much is how the plots are woven. They are like cut shorts here and there. Dialogs are made so frontal. John Steinbeck lets his writing style so straight-forwarded in the work that I don’t enjoy reading it at all. Despite the tone of the book that is ‘furious’ I instead feel unmotivated because of his technique.

I hope ‘In Dubious Battle’ is as emotionally-moving as ‘The Grapes of Wrath’. Both speak much about poverty and labor issues. Yet, the ways each of the novel tell stories are way different. ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ completely stresses me out in good ways. I am so absorbed by the plots. The book leaves me with mixed feelings. John Steinbeck’s way of writing is superb. Beautiful, deep, philosophical. No wonder that the title brings him wining Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. He is so total in producing the story in terms of plot, message and storytelling style.

But in ‘In Dubious Battle’ I can sense that he seems in a rush. He looks like forcing himself doing the work. The finale is clear yet he doesn’t work well in bringing readers into imaginations. Lack of emotion as well.

Looking at the two titles somehow reprimand me that even brilliant author like John Steinbeck can mess up. Not all his ideas are well-executed. I haven’t researched what prompt him creating ‘In Dubious Battle’. Whatever reasons behind the book all I can tell to myself that being good writers take a bloody efforts. Doing so doesn’t necessarily guarantee your books will score massive successes. Well, defining success can be relative but at least you can sense whether you make it or not by reading your own books.

“East of Eden’ is his first title that really wows me. The self-influenced novel grabs my attention to his name. It so moving, the words are so wonderful, and the message is so related to my life and I think people’ lives in general.

As much as I love ‘East of Eden’, John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ is my most beloved title of his, as a matter of fact, ‘Of Mice and Men’ is my most favorite novel thus far. It cuts so deep. It is better than ‘East of Eden’. ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ gives me another chill because the book is so powerful. It is a boom!

Reviewing all experiences regarding all of the titles I can sum up that proficient authors like John Steinbeck can sometimes have hard times. He can make very wonderful fictions but not free from making bad ones. Men, he is a human being after all. Being at the top throughout his whole life sounds godly, too good to be true.

Lessons learned is this: while worldly-proven authors can be bad sometimes then why can’t I be? This doesn’t mean to aide myself whenever I am lazy to write or read but the point is creating fictions is a very long process. I can be at the high but down sometimes. Or in between. The key is accepting who I am and what I can achieve at whatever level I am at.

 

Advertisements

Reading by intention

I have seen my reading circle has grown much smaller in the past one or two years. Articles about current affairs, business, politic, national issues, topped daily reading lists. I followed what was going on in my country ranging from serious to trivial things. What went viral in social media caught my attention, too.

After I stopped working as daily news translator my reading habit gradually has changed. I read stories that interest me only. These include football, books, self-development, literature and the like. Business and world affairs are no longer within my focus. I devote much time reading things that support my job and hobby.

As days go by, my reading preference becomes much narrower that it was years ago. Now, I visit websites about literature, positive psychology, books, creativity. I even often reread articles that speak about motivation whenever I feel lazy or hesitant to keep writing that I really love but I’m afraid to do.

Websites on latest issues, such as local news portal and international ones (TIME, BBC, Reuters and Bloomberg) have been occasionally visited. If you ask me what happens around the globe now, I hardly can answer your questions.

Themes, like corruption and politic that are always the favorites among Indonesians, don’t catch my attention as dazzling as they were. Sometimes I don’t know what goes on viral. Sometimes I just don’t care about why people or my friends rumble about specific themes or people that are frequently-talked at certain times.

This is so crazy, I often say so to myself. Because I now ask for my friends’ information on what happens currently, something which was in contrary with what I did years ago. As a journalist, I mostly became the first one to have known issues or gossips because that was my duty. I knew the people behind the scenes and everything so I told my friends most of the times. But the reality is now in reverse. I occasionally have no ideas what happen on the outside world.

It’s not that I turn becoming an ignorant person. The truth is my world becomes small and smaller without me intending to do that. Once I start learning to look within me, organizing my life, seeking what I really want, chasing after my personal dreams, everything seem fall into its place accordingly.

I still read latest issues but not as thoroughly as I did. I only need to know what happens and that’s it. I don’t pursue the issues any further unless they interest me so much. Much of my reading time is for stuff that helps me improving my life as a person and a novelist-to-be.

Doing this for almost two years have opened my eyes in amazing ways I couldn’t ever imagine. I used to think nothing was as important as politic and economy. I used to believe daily life is boring. I used to think my life would be grand if I pay attention to things outside my world.

The truth is reading (what I used to think as silly topics) like self-discovery, happiness, daily tips, can be not only refreshing but also influential as a creative writer as I’d like to call myself so. This habit prompts me thinking harder than I used to be as a journalist. Because I have to dig deep from scratches. I have to produce materials from everything that I read from many weeks or months before. This encourages me to work extra miles. While when working as a journalist, source persons and issues were abundant. The challenge was trying to come up with newsworthy articles. I think the latter one is harder because that requires more than asking for information. In that case, creativity does turn out very complicated sometimes because it triggers me to think and research harder.

After two years, this reading habit starts becoming a daily ritual. This makes me feel calmer, more peaceful and resourceful. The first two words happen because I read articles that intentionally support my well-being. Instead of reading things about people debate on religion or politic scandal (which surely won’t lead to any solutions for all sides), I stumble upon articles on DIY, my most favorite one is reorganizing bookshelf (LOL). Or gathering ideas on weekend-to-do-lists that don’t involve spending a lot of money at the malls.

I feel resourceful because now I get more knowledge about books and literature. I now know literature can be very up-to-date. It is not boring at all. As such, I can develop writing skills out of this much-beloved theme to make all things bookish can get along with today’s generation. That reading can be very fun. And writing about books is not always old-fashioned.

My stories when this blog firstly appears are boring. I share about book reviews and my opinions. I don’t do a lot of creative writings about them. After I read some websites I begin creating posts about what I read in as trendy, fun ways as I can.

Shifting the reading preference has done a lot of good things. I never thought reading selection should be organized but now I guess this is important thing to do because my brain and my energy is limited. As age adds up, I realize my brain can no longer accommodate all things readable. All I want and need is materials that can support me growing better and wiser every day not only as a writer but also as a human being.

 

 

 

Writing matters: do we need to visualize?

writing.gifBefore I write fictions I normally visualize places and characters as if they were real ones. After I am sure how they look life when they were really exist, I start writing. I need to get concrete looks of all the imaginary tales inside my head before I make them alive in the story. In short, writing is for me putting imaginations into words.

Is my method correct or not?

As much as fiction means unreal, indeed, I hope I can invite readers to suppose as if my story were real or at least reliable to represent what happens in real life.  In order to do that I need to ensure readers that the people or the places in my story can resonate real people’ problems or real places’ conditions.

To get this executed, I not only learn sharpening my imagination but also absorbing values from people or places that matter much in my life. Be they people who underestimate my skills or places that I wish to be there. Or, I make stories based on other fictitious people I read somewhere or places I know from books.

The truth is nothing is completely out of nowhere. My writing product is the combination of my wishes, imaginations, critics, sadness, joy and many more. Let my brain and heart process them all then what comes out of it is what I, personally, secretly wish to voice from within.

Doing this is hard. When I was at the college I thought writing graduating papers about linguistic was the hardest of all but then I realized writing about literature was very much challenging because this was requiring me to have come up with a worthy idea.

Worthy idea..

The very essence of finding a worthy idea means you have to do a lot of things, sometimes at the same time. This includes numerous hours of reading, indirect observations on a daily basis, discussions and most daunting phase is sufficient time for reflection and contemplation, definitely on your own.

I still occasionally doubt that I am a creative and imaginative person. I still believe being creative is a born-virtue, one is gifted being a creative person while other is not. I consider myself as a realistic person, sometimes sombre one. I dislike Harry Potter and The Lord of The Rings because they are far too imaginative for a practical person like I.

But through this blog, through writing things that I want about everything though mostly is about books at the end of the day, I realize I am a creative person just like many people out there. I discover another perspective about creativity. It no longer is all about producing completely new creatures as in The Lord or in Avatar but creativity can also mean making fictions that resonate much of real situations.

Creativity means much larger than that. Every time we come up with an idea it means we attempt being a creative person. While I sometimes question myself, “Am I creative enough to write a book” I keep writing. I keep cultivating my creativity and reading a lot of articles about books and literature to at least maintain my dream of writing fictions alive.

The picture is taken from this.

Social media making us lonelier than ever. Writers no exception

Writing is my emotional therapy for as long as I can barely remember. I release all burdens, blocks that stay in the heart and the mind each time I put pen on papers. I feel calm afterwards. Back then, saying things that I don’t want to share them with anybody else is more than enough. The process is a sacred moment. The intimacy between me and words is indescribable.

Then, here comes blogging platforms. My intention of writing has since deviated after making this account. From channeling the emotions, now one of my goals is how making my pieces read by a lot of people. The first years of my participation in WordPress sees the number of people read my stories is very few. And I don’t really mind with that because all I care is taking all the noises out.

With the coming of social media, the once tiny motivation starts taking its toll. I wish to garner readers as many as I can do. On one side, I am encouraged to write stories that are more up-to-date. I am forced to be creative, not only reviewing books I read but also telling what makes the book unique or things like that.

But on the other side, my need to know my writings seen by a number of people gets growing. The emergence of social media makes my need to have my writings validated become even bigger. I begin believing the more people read, like or put comments in my posts, the better my stories are. How shallow!

I get so high whenever my posts get a lot of likes or loves and become so low if they prove the other way around. This doesn’t only apply for posts in this blog but also writings I share in other platforms. Gradually, I become externally motivated in writing. It becomes gradually difficult to write just to satisfy my needs or raise my writing bar for I start thinking of people reaction before I write certain topics.

My wish of making people praising my writings become higher that this sometimes making me feeling so dependable upon their remarks. I no longer feel fully contented when writing.

Surely, if no one read my words doesn’t mean my stories are bad or low quality. If none gives any damn about my works doesn’t mean they are shitty. If only I uphold my principle of putting myself first then others. If only I know the hardest battle in today’s modern era is staying the same no matter the world tries to steal your attention.

But I really comprehend today’s world is almost always about quantity, attention and numbers. Going viral today then get drowning the next day. My task is balancing what I need on the inside and what suit people most. This has been day-to-day act of working and doing this has mixed my feelings; sometimes I am okay with zero readers but sometimes I can feel down, too. Oh the challenging lives of modern people..

Still getting addicted to self-help articles

self-help

Do you guys love reading self-help books or articles? I have been enjoying, again, writings about self-help and self-development these past two years thanks to Thought Catalog. I don’t know exactly what makes this type of article so widely-read until now. I mean you should know what makes you happy on your own, right? Because I and you are completely different human being.

What makes you joyful won’t make me feel the same way as you do. I believe, too, the way you climb out success or how you cope heartbroken will be different with my methods. Personal backgrounds, family issues, education, friends who surround us shape what each and every of us to what we are today.

There are silver linings though, yes I know. I am sure you guys understand. When I am at my sarcastic mood, I will say this is all about making happiness as a huge business. Selling happiness, you may call it so. But when I am in at the low point of my life or in a positive mode, the articles help me much.

The truth about reading these articles is that they get you feeling mixed up. Sometimes, I feel they are trivial, unimportant. Like, writing about what makes you confident, yeah right! No matter how various each and every writer is, most of their voices speak the similar things.

On the other hand, I occasionally am astonished by how amazing their writing skills are. How creative they are making stories coming from very simple ideas. They way they craft words mesmerize my mind. Reading their stories invite me to absorb how complicated or simple or grand each and every author is about life, love or human.

Writing about emotion, human growth, relationships is so-so, sometimes it looks cheesy, but occasionally it feels challenging, at least in the eyes of readers, like I. You have to observe human beings very well, put your shoes in theirs, or you have to have the guts to share what you have been through before producing articles or advice that will get to the peoples’ hearts.

Actually, reading this kind of articles is what makes me spending more time than reading novels or fictions. At certain times, reading this type of articles assist me much in getting my emotion back at positivism, reminding myself to be grounded and grateful, pushing myself to move past my comfort zone. But sometimes, I read this type of articles a bit too much. This activity sometimes consumes my time.

I hope I can reduce the amount of time reading this kind of writings this year then turning to novels as usual. I hope this works well for me. Wish me luck friends!

 Thanks for providing this picture.

The hardest task readers can bear upon themselves

imutnya-opera-house

The more I read the harder it seems to take a stance. The more I gain knowledge the more I am certain the surest things in life are those mentioned by Alloh swt in the Koran.

The more novels I read the more I become empathetic a.k.a I don’t know if I straightly oppose those are known as villains or still can talk with them. The more I know people’ stories through their words the more I feel less lonely. The more I read what are inside authors’ minds the more I know my opinions are not really original.

As I read and read, I find that my perspectives have been put someone else. After I read a lot of articles and books, I know I am stupid. There have been brilliant minds out there. How am I gonna be different?

I feel so small. I feel like I was a indecisive person because I think and consider a lot of things before putting myself forward for certain judgements. Well, I am sure that I can judge anyone anymore. The truth is I am afraid to judge. I become more careful before I speak because I sometimes believe truths coexist.

What I used to consider false, silly opinions somehow may turn out to be true and add my comments in the future.

When I was at school, I was reading to get good grades. That was so simple. But when I am no longer a schoolgirl, the purpose of reading has begun developing. It has got wider, wiser but scarier.

From enjoying the core of the novels’ stories to add new perspectives to my whole life, reading is the most thrilling activity that may change my opinions, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse depending on which path I am about to head.

At first, reading makes me sitting as a watcher but as years go by, I want to say something, like it or not, I take those whose books I have read, as part of my viewpoints. I feel like I have something to say. But whose words will that be? Are they entirely, wholly mine? I doubt it.

The single, most difficult task as a reader I may not notice I must face is that one day I have to be my own narrative. I have to form my own voice after so many insights inside my head from so many writers I have come across.

That’s so hard, my friends. I won’t call my voice as original but mine will still be authentic. It will be different, though may only slightly. Formulating a distinctive voice amidst life-changing opinions in this world of enlightenment is so damn challenging. It requires I to read even more, connects myself with my own trait, makes peace with honesty, and channels with my hope.

Not only it will be a matter or knowledge per se, but my voice will be a complete understanding; a total package about issues on the surface, analysis, personal influence, hope wrapped in neutral ways as I possibly can.

Good luck for myself!

 

 

On the word ‘effortless’

write

Lately, I have been trying to be effortless. In job, romance, hobby. I have been trying to work, love and write effortlessly by… attempting to do those things more often that I used to be. Strange, huh?

I just find this recipe after I practice more than ever before. The less I practice the harder it gets. The more I try the lighter it becomes. To put it simply, if I don’t write as often as I can.. if I don’t try liking my job and if I don’t open my heart open, I’ll be lazy to better my life in those aspects. Making them all as part of my daily routine is like embracing them into my life. It’s like when I don’t do that, my life will lose some parts of its existence.

I don’t know exactly how I try to be effortless by doing a lot of efforts. See the point here? All I know and feel is that the more I do things, particularly that I am really into it, I become a good friend of it, that I and whatever I love doing is inseparable. Sometimes, I force myself to write, read, and do the job that I don’t actually love, just to keep the laziness away. Except for the job part which is definitely because of money.

The thing about loving something or someone is that it fuels my energy. I have to work hard to improve my skills on them even when days are rough or the weather is rainy. Living knowing what you love to do is exciting but sometimes tiring. If I stop writing or reading, I’ll be dying inside. So I have to do those things even my brain gets stuck or has no good ideas. Doing them as often as I can makes it becomes effortless. I just do those things. Automatically.

One of my most favorite bloggers, Brianna Wiest, writes that doing effortless things most likely align with our true identity. I couldn’t agree more on this though I am not really sure writing and reading show me who am I because I also love sports and history. Too narrow to attach ourselves with what we do, actually.

Apart from that, doing things effortlessly has been my great goal recently because this makes me easier doing those thing. The outcomes, articles in this instance, contain less jumbled sentences, easier to read (hopefully). I don’t have to force my brain to work harder if the process is effortless. And most importantly, my heart doesn’t beg me to stop writing or reading because it gets used to it, it starts loving the whole process. It comes from the heart. That what makes it so genuine and different than when I write under stress or obligations.

I can sum it all that doing effortless things take many huge and consistent efforts until they become ingrained in your daily life that you can’t live without doing them all. The result is crazy; it flows though your heart, it speaks your soul, it makes you feeling contented as you read or review it over and over again.

The picture is taken from this.