How Wanting Makes Us Want More

You know how sometimes you feel like you have a million and one things you want to do, so many things you want to learn and experience and do and write about, but you just don’t have the time or freedom or capacity to? Is it just a millenial thing? Does this only plague twenty-somethings from First World countries?

Right now, there seems to be so much else I can and should be doing, things I should be pursuing that, for some reason or other, I’m not. And as a result, I’m stuck where I am.

This post isn’t supposed to be all doom and gloom though. It’s not a bad problem to have – who’s complaining about having too much inspiration for stories, right? I should be happy the ideas are flowing copiously, and I can experience enough to know what I want to pursue / devote myself to.

But wanting makes us impatient and desperate and miserable. Wanting makes us want even more. It makes us realise how much we should be doing but aren’t. How much we could have but don’t because we’re not doing what we should be doing. All the opportunities and experiences we’re missing out on because of what we don’t have.

Wanting makes us even greedier, hungrier. Not for money, but for the life we have always dreamed for ourselves.

Right now, I’m writing this as I:

  • work on the first draft of Before I Remember You (YA magical realism),
  • story-board – and essentially rewrite – Blood Promise (yep, I’m going back to this YA fantasy manuscript I wrote three years ago, purely because I still see the – ahem – promise in it and believe I can get it published … okay, the very kind and positive feedback from literary agents helped too)
  • write a short story for Before I Remember You (sort of a prequel that serves as groundwork for me when I write the novel)
  • plan out Land of Sand and Song (YA fantasy), and
  • send out query letters to agents for No Room in Neverland (YA contemporary)

That’s not including my day job and other pursuits like reading, practicising my musical instrument, blogging, attending writers conferences, spending quality time with friends and family, etc.

(Who has time for a boyfriend? My single ladies and I were talking about this the other day – how everyone seems to think we’re inadequate in some way because we’re still single in our mid-twenties. Maybe there are other things worthy of our time and energy that we CAN control and actively pursue, other things that make us equally happy, if not more so, because right now we’re still just finding and building ourselves into the people we want to become. My philosophy has always been: if it happens, it happens. Not shutting the door on this, just leaving it open while I focus on the work I need to do in order to achieve my dreams. Okay, single girl rant over.)

If only humans didn’t need seven to nine hours of sleep daily. Think of how much more we could all do if only we had the full 24 hours!

A day away from the day job is hardly enough, but it’s all I can afford now if I don’t want the work to pile up.

A writer friend of mine shared an essay by Steven Pressfield recently, about how writers typically have a shadow career, which is basically a substitute for your true calling, your actual job. A shadow career is the “B” story in your life that feeds into the “A” story, which is to a writer is writing.

I guess what I’m trying to say after all this rambling is that wanting has made me more focused but also tired, purpose-driven but also ravenous. No one said this would be easy, and I don’t expect it to be easy. Anything worth having should be too easily attained, after all. But what if all this wanting only sets you up for endless disappointment?

Do you think it’s better not to want and expect so much in life so we can spare ourselves the torment of not having, or do you think we should hold on to our dreams and emerge battered but stronger after the entire experience? How do you know when you need to let something go? I’ve always believed that if you want something badly enough, you should do everything you can to acquire it. But what if what you want was never meant for you and your stubbornness is what’s keeping your happiness (and sanity) at bay?

Wow, okay that turned mopey. I’m not whining, I promise. I appreciate the struggle … sometimes. I just want to know if I’m alone in worrying about all this and hear your take on this, dear readers!

Special thanks to readers and lurkers who have left encouraging comments – be it via social media or this blog or a private email – as I forge my way through this writing journey! Your words have gotten me through the darkest moments of self-doubt, uncertainty, and defeat. I am immensely grateful to each and every one of you who took the time and effort to reach out with a kind message of support and love.

XO

YA Book Review: Rebel of the Sands

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I’ve finally gotten a chance to sit down and properly gush over exalt this book.

And oh heavens, this book. In a nutshell, it’s about this girl named Amani, who comes from a dead-end little town in the middle of the desert called Dustwalk, which is where you go to die in obscurity. Amani wants out. She wants to find her next of kin in the city. Along the way, she steals a magical desert horse called a buraqi, meets Jin, a mysterious foreigner with a past he’s unwilling to talk about, falls for Jin, and finds out what she really is. (In that order.)

The whole story is so vivid and enchanting and fast-paced it leaves you breathless and utterly spellbound and calls to mind images like these:

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It’s been a while since I read something so beautifully crafted yet packed with tight action scenes and a plot that moves relentlessly forward. SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo was fantastic and all (seriously, read it if you haven’t already), but Alwyn Hamilton’s debut novel reminds me a lot of Laini Taylor’s DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE trilogy (hands-down THE BEST YA fantasy series I’ve read in my life – Laini is in a league of her own). Not in terms of plot, of course, but pacing and prose. The writing is lyrical yet concise – you don’t get the sense that the writer is getting carried away with la-di-da imagery and descriptions, but there is still poetry in her prose. Every sentence is perfectly crafted and carries the story forward.

Plot-wise, I mean the premise alone is enough to hook you. A mythical beast. A girl chasing her dreams. A mysterious foreigner. A rebel prince leading an uprising against the sultan. A rebel army made up of magical outcasts. SQUEEEE!

So many twists and turns. So many revelations. Such immense fun! I kept having to re-read sentences to savour them, and take down notes on how she crafted the scenes as well as outline the plot. Which explains why I took a month to read it. Also, I was trying to delay the inevitable end. When is the sequel going to be out already?!

Okay, I’m going to let the writing do the talking now.

Favourite quotes from the book:

The world makes things for each place. Fish for the sea, Rocs for the mountain skies, and girls with sun in their skin and perfect aim for a desert that doesn’t let weakness live.

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See why I can’t stop spazzing over this book?!?!

In short, REBEL OF THE SANDS is PERFECT. SO PERFECTLY CRAFTED I WANTED TO WEEP. So perfect it deserves all the 5-star reviews it has received. Because there are some books you read (as a writer) and realise that you will never – NEVER – be able to top because they are just that good. This is a book that deserves to be published and featured on the bestsellers list. Ms Hamilton, I take my hat off to you.

Excuse me while I go curl up in a corner now.