When you read a lot but you’re not a writer

What a writer anyway?

Do you have to produce a book to be entitled as a writer? What about writing essays? So you are more as an essayist than a writer? Then, what if you write a lot of posts in your blog, like this blog. You’re a blogger, not a writer?

Sometimes I assume the name of a writer is exclusive, still. That you can only be called as one only after you get your books published. Other than that, you are a blogger, essayist, columnist, depending on what media you put your words on. At least, that what happens in Indonesia. I don’t know in other countries.

I read a lot. I edit every day. Commas, punctuation, periods. I correct writers’ words on a daily basis. That’s my job. Other than that, I curate. I even know the term just lately. Curator. I give critics to people short stories, but mostly I praise with lots of notes here and there. People praise my wide knowledge about literature, reading and book in general.

Sometimes they applaud my editing ability, the skill of clarifying contents. My job is carefully looking at words, finding faults (if any) then correcting them. I can’t tell I am a good editor but I practice this every day because I adore words. I believe words convey wisdom, power and ideas.

I love writing way above editing. I write to feel alive. But what I write is not books. Blog posts, loose articles, opinions or ideas. Lately I realize I prefer writing those because of random, various information that I get by reading, various kinds of topics. I get easily distracted because of my high curiosity level.

That’s why I prefer writing different topics. I know a lot and that is sometimes not good if I have to get committed to long-term projects, like the novel I wish will be published one day.

I sometimes compare myself with my best college friend. She doesn’t read as much as I do. She doesn’t know literature as much as I know. But hey! She is an author. She has one book about children tales. Though the book doesn’t sell well she makes it anyway! And I?

I get too much trapped on theories, best works I have read so far that I think too much before I actually put down my pen into papers. May be I just do what my friend do, write then forget about the rest!

 

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.

 

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.

Easier said than done. My struggles in writing short stories in Bahasa Indonesia

Last weekend, I wrote a short story in Bahasa Indonesia, my native language, about a man who was freed from jail after spending four years in it. When I had thought about this idea I believed the story would be cool although I knew a lot of pieces about this have been around in media.

I kept doing what I had wanted though. Fortunately, rain was pouring down heavily across Jakarta. I had to stay at home. So I thought that days were perfect time for me to learn writing short stories. Tell you what!

The process was a bit like a torment for me. I was enjoying it on first words only. The initial sentences were running smoothly, coming from my heart. But the rest was like a journey full of pebbels. The lack of research that would support all of the details was hindering from making it into a comprehensive story. I changed the plot, too. The biggest factor that made me unable to turn the idea into a good one was because I was putting too much focus making it a worthwhile story to be sent to newspaper. Yeah, money at the end of the day.

The what-would-editors-or-readers-think-when-reading-this-writing was totally into my head during the process. This made it a bad result eventually. The story did not fully come from the heart. So many unfinished scenes here and there. I didn’t describe people and places in the story as beautiful as it should be. The story was dull in execution though I think the value that I would like to convey is powerful and very real.

In it, I’d love to share how freedom isn’t only limited in physical terms. It takes years and patience for this main character to be fully accepted by society. Being imprisoned emotionally is much more painful for him.

I completed the story by the way. With a lot of emotional efforts. I wrote a few sentences then I stopped. I listened to music, did trivial things, just to pump up my spirit. I needed two days to finish it all! Now I know how hard it is to finish writing things that slightly interest you, LOL! I did it all because I had to finish doing things that I started. I was unhappy with the outcome. I realized that I can make good reviews about books by other people but I am still far away from becoming a good fiction writer.

This fact slaps my face. What good is it to be a good reviewer and critic but can’t make incredible stories on my own? I look hard on myself on the mirror about this. I am still a bad fiction author regardless the fact that my awkwardness expressing things in Bahasa Indonesia does a big factor.

I have to learn coping all of this. I have to get up and try again.

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..

Wishing writing a book on my own as my unusual escape

I want to write a novel in Bahasa Indonesia, my mother tongue, although I haven’t felt comfortable writing pieces in the language that has been part of my identity. Despite the fact that I prefer practicing writing in English language, I wish one day I can have a book on my own. I don’t know exactly why. Sometimes, my ego comes up; it says you have friends who write books, why can’t you do that, too? You can write better books than theirs or than books you read at glance at bookstores.

That’s my selfish, competitive reason.

Another part of me says writing a book is the only entrepreneurship thing that I can do to ensure I have a career in case I get fired or find it hard to find jobs. I find myself too shy to sell goods or market some products so writing is the most convenient thing I can do to make ends meet, one day.

That’s my pragmatic objective.

I get to write a book to showcase my understanding about literature so far. I have read tons of great writings, have opened my mind to perspectives across genders and authors. I have to put what I know into good writings. To let my friends know I am a good writer, too. To make myself known that I am a good reader. It is as if I were a student who is tasked of scoring good grades at exams after studying hard for a few years.

That’s my most arrogant point.

I wish I have my own book one day to leave a legacy. Just in case, once more, just in case people recognize ny name. I’d love to voice my own in forms of writing about topics I’d be always glad to talk about.

And that’s my ambitious goal.

I don’t wanna be naive here. Those reasons have contributed to my overall goal of having a book in the future. If I say only I want to write a book because I just want to then I’d sad if none would read it. So, each of them have encourage my thought of getting my book published. Yet the most honest reason on why I want to write a book is that I’d love to embark on an adventure. I’d love to set a goal, the thing that will push me getting up in the morning on a high note because I have extraordinary thing to do each day apart from obligatory things.

I hope this goal will distract my attention whenever my other aspects of life turn sour. At least, I have this mission to accomplish whenever days get rough and people turn their blind eyes to me. I start thinking at least having this goal will lift me when things or people don’t care about me.

This goal start becoming an escape, a place where I can always run to, my new best friend. The one that never satisfies me, the one that helps me going up and up. I guess this is more than enough at the moment.

The boring secret of getting ideas

getting-ideas

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”

Those are one of my favorite quotes from John Steinbeck, one the writers that I admire the most. I can’t agree more.

One of the hardest thing working in a creative industry is how the hell am I gonna get good ideas. The word ‘creative’ itself is like a two-sided coin. On one side, it is an honor for me working in this field. In a fast-changing world like nowadays, if you want to survive, you have to be creative. You have to work smarter than most of your peers. You have to think outside the box, so as many modern people say. Working in this sector is thrilling, challenging.. making me part of this world, which moves so fast, busy, hectic.

Especially I also have to deal with social media era where people can speak up whenever they want. Problems, social phenomenons come and go in a matter of days. So being a part of this industry encourages me to think and behave in line with what happens everyday. This makes me living as a youngster despite my current age.

Being a creative industry laborer means I have to work in different patterns compared to most of my friends’.

While for those who work as civil servants or in administrative offices doing their jobs from this task to other tasks under certain requirements, my work patterns can tell different stories.

Because as a matter of fact, ideas are the core of all. And to get good or even great ideas, most often I don’t have to think hard, or force myself thinking hard. I almost always find the ideas when I slow myself down, take a good time for relaxing and such.

Since I mostly write, translate and edit on a daily basis, my best tool to ignite ideas is by reading. Reading and writing are two things that I really love since the day my other has successfully taught me how to read well. I love you mom for making me able to read!

The mystery of discovering ideas, let us separate them from good, bad or average, is simply practising often and more often. In my theory, I read a lot. Sometimes I read just a little. I read articles that sometimes don’t directly relate to my job, that is about books, literature or creative world or politic or fiction.

Believe me or not, I read a lot of sources about self-development, psychology and motivation. If you ask me why do I read things that don’t correlate with my jobs? Then, I simply say because the words in the articles are artsy. See, artsy, LOL!

The way the writers say what they want to say is amazing. The way they present their ideas is what makes me gluing at the computer of smartphone reading their words. I steal from them about this, on how to craft their ideas.

I learn how they think. I learn how I can be consistent with what I do despite the fact this blog hasn’t earned me any rupiahs or something worthy of money.

On a day-to-day basis, reading articles about personal development is quick and easy. On the longer term, I have a good book by my side. Through reading this novel I don’t only absorb ideas contained in the book but also I am channeled to other ideas while enjoying the book.

For instance, when I read Olalla my mind races back in times when I studied about Gothic literature at the university. That is how one idea can lead me to another one.  And for me, that is so wonderful, on how things can coexist, that on the long journey that you take you meet this person on this route then you meet another individual when the trip goes on further. Much to your surprise, the two strangers that you meet en route know each other.

That is the secret of getting ideas. By working, practicing, reading even when things get boring. Keep enjoying words that don’t necessarily relate to your jobs or favorite fields of study. Keep doing that things because you’ll be amazed how your brain suddenly lights up with new ideas you have no clues where do they come up from.

Your brain is a really fantastic tool that Alloh swt has given to each of us. It works, restores information from what year you can even barely remember. And when you need certain ideas at most, it is like ‘ting’. And there you go.. you get what you need.

The picture is taken from this.

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.

Honesty always sets me free. On what makes me shifting opinions on ‘The Catcher in the Rye’

tumblr_static_i_m_sorry

My opinions on certain titles change as I read more books though I am not really sure it contributes much to the shifted point of view.

I’d like to take ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ as a good example for this post. What I used to think as a very good book, revolutionary one is now a mere ordinary piece of writing. It highlights the struggle of a teenager, witty, honest, satirical and powerful but is limited to youth level.

I read the novel a few years ago when I hadn’t read many titles by Victorian writers. I was excited reading it. It was a very quick reading. The language is very straight-forwarded, all is linear. The first person type of narration made me easier to complete reading it. I loved it so much. The mixed feelings after I put it down was still lingering.

I actually wrote a post about this novel but I retouch this issue because I want to admit the truth: the opinions about what was once a great book is very much influenced by someone’s comments on it and somehow I find it true.

This person said the novel was no more than just a boy complaining about his life. I was slapped by his comment because I found his harsh words were true. I edited my opinions then. I admit I was too much in glorifying the novel.

Whether or not this was also caused by the number of many classic novels I had read along the way I do think it was, though not entirely. What is the surest thing in my head is that the more I am comfortable with one type of reading materials the more I get to know what kind of books suit me best and matches up my identity. As this happens, I realize what kind of books which are not as good as my standard and what titles that are marvelous.

This is a sort of vague. This brings me a kind of click-it-or-not emotion. Or may be the novel just seems silly for me now. All in all, opinions upon certain books are highly changeable with various factors prompt us to behave like that. May be you have had it all inside your head for a long time then there are moments that awakes you for this shifted opinion. Or you are just awaken by someone’s comments then analyzing that his or her opinions are in line with yours now.

It takes courage to remedy our falsehoods. It requires honesty to admit my mistakes. It forces me to annul previous thoughts but once I do that, I am free.

Thank you for providing this picture.