Fiction Friday – Prince

Since Blogger decided to screw up my GIFs, I think I shall make a permanent switch to WordPress.

Anyway, too many things to write this week: Fifteen Minutes, which I’m going back to tinkering with since it is now free from the competition I sent it in for; Blood Promise; and a writing blog I’m setting up with a friend.

So I’m pulling out an old piece. Sorry about this! Will definitely write a new piece when I have more time. (Crappy excuse, but there you go.)

This is a play I wrote for school (the assignment was to write a comedic piece), which is also a scene from Fifteen Minutes. So this is part of the rough material for the novel.

 

*

 

PRINCE

Tom Fletcher

 

In a garage with music equipment set up, SAWYER, JON and HESSE are seated around a makeshift plastic table, waiting for PRINCE to arrive.

Sawyer   I thought he’s living with you guys now.

Hesse   Staying.

Sawyer   Living, staying, whatever – what’s the difference?

Jon   The difference is that it’s not permanent.

Sawyer   You mean staying?

Hesse   That’s what I said.

Sawyer   So since he’s staying with you guys, where the hell is he? Still rolling his pretty ass out of bed?

Hesse   His shaver broke. He went out to the store. Said he’ll be back in ten.

Sawyer   So we’re going to sit here and wait for him to primp himself up? Damn, I should’ve brought my makeup kit along.

Hesse   You know it’s been harder for him to get around lately. What with the paparazzi and all.

Sawyer   By getting around, you mean… (Raises brows)

Hesse   (rolling his eyes) You know Prince isn’t like that. He’s ridiculously devoted. I don’t think he’s ever even gotten over Heather ditching his ass for that prick. Which is why I can’t understand those headlines. It’s not like him to do anything of that sort.

Sawyer   But it is just like him to get himself into all that mess. He’s too nice to those fans. Girls throw themselves at him and he’s all, (feigns a prissy attitude) Oh hello, thank you for your support. I know you love me. A photo? Sure, why ever not?

Garage shutters roll up. Enter PRINCE, with CHLOE in tow.

Prince   Did I just hear you guys talking about me? (Takes off mask and smirks) I might blush.

Hesse   Yeah, okay. You got your grand entrance. Now let’s jam.

Prince   I spent fifteen minutes shaking off the paps. Give me a second to take a breather, will you? I need to shave. It’s bad enough walking around with a half-shaven face. Good thing no one saw me with this thing on. (Gestures to mask)

Sawyer   We’re at band practice. Why do you need to shave before band practice? And this whole problem with the paps wouldn’t have been a problem if… (Trails off as he spots CHLOE) Well, hello, beautiful.

Jon   (staring at CHLOE) And this is…?

Prince   Oh. This is Chloe, my new assistant. She lives just next door. (looks at the brothers) Your neighbour for all these years and you don’t remember her face?

An awkward pause.

Prince   Chloe, meet Sawyer (gestures to him), Jon and Hesse. They’re my band-mates.

HESSE waves while CHLOE nods in acknowledgement. JON levels her with a stare.

Sawyer   (extends a hand but withdraws it when CHLOE does not reciprocate) Please to meet you, beautiful.

Hesse   What happened to Keith?

Prince   Oh, he was pathetic. One little media storm and he quit. Said the paparazzi are driving him nuts. Besides, he was boring. Never took any initiative, unless I prompted him –

Sawyer   You mean he’s never commended Your Royal Hotness before.

Prince   Besides (drops voice to a whisper) I think he was in love with me.

CHLOE rolls her eyes.

Prince   I can’t trust him to be objective if he’s in love with me. I need to have a purely professional relationship with my assistant.

Hesse   And so you went and got a female assistant? Of … (assesses CHLOE) our age? Are you trying to drive the paps delirious? They’ll go wild when they find out.

Prince   Don’t worry, I’ve already made sure she won’t fall for me. Chloe doesn’t get out much; she didn’t even know who I was! (Laughs) Girls like her are so rare, don’t you think? Besides, I intend to keep her a secret. No one but you guys knows about her. Plus, it’s easier having someone who doesn’t know anything about us around. Nobody will sell us out – sell me out – you see. (Grins to ensuing silence) I know, sometimes my genius scares me too.

Jon   And you think she won’t sell you out? How do you know for sure she doesn’t know who we are?

Prince   I know. It’s hard to believe she doesn’t know who Highway Heaven is. It’s like she lives under a rock. But if she is, then we’re living right next to that rock. (Looks at the brothers)

Sawyer   Staying.

Prince   But she’s the real deal.And don’t worry, I made her promise not to fall in love with me. (Winks)

Sawyer   (sidling up to CHLOE) But that doesn’t include us, right? You didn’t promise not to fall in love with the rest of us?

CHLOE shrugs off SAWYER’s arm.

Prince   I think she’s allergic to boys or something. Good-looking boys, that is. So you might have more of a chance than I do, Sawyer.

Sawyer   Screw you.

Prince   Sorry, I don’t swing that way.

Jon   What’s in it for her then, being your assistant? (Folds arms) If she’s not into you, or any of us, then why would she volunteer to be your assistant for nothing?

Chloe   First off –

Hesse   It talks!

Chloe   I didn’t volunteer to be his assistant. (Glares at PRINCE) He practically forced me into it. I barely even agreed –

Prince   Aw, don’t listen to her. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Must be the shock of meeting me in the flesh. You know how they can get.

Chloe   And, I’m not going to be his assistant for nothing. It’s because I….

Sawyer   What is it, beautiful? No need to be shy around us.

Chloe   I….

Prince   Oh, come on. There’s nothing wrong with being broke. I was poor too before I shot to mega-stardom. Her parents totally forgot about her living here on her own. She was living on cup noodles and a table lamp when I found her. I’m just giving her a job. It’s a win-win situation. (Pauses) I’ve always wanted to use that phrase.

Jon   So she’s with you for your money.

Hesse   Oh, come on, Jon. (To CHLOE) Sorry, he gets like that. You can’t find anyone more cynical than my brother.

Sawyer   So how did you find her?

Prince   (Nudges CHLOE) Tell him, honey. Tell him how Fate brought us together and how our insignificant lives – well, your insignificant life – collided with the glorious, dazzling impact of a supernova.

Hesse   Careful, Ethan. You’re flirting.

Prince   The name is Prince. And oh, don’t worry. She’s hormonally challenged. These homebodies, they stay at home all day talking to their dolls or reading their fantasy novels. They couldn’t respond to a come-on if it stuck a hotdog in their mouths.

Groans erupt all around.

Sawyer   Sorry, beautiful. He can be quite a dick sometimes. I would never contaminate my language with such vulgar imagery.

Chloe   That’s okay. The words a person says determines his intellect. There’s no point contending with a person like him.

Hesse   (laughing) Looks like you’ve hired yourself a little fireball, Prince.

Jon   Can we get down to business already? My keys are turning rusty. (Plays a quick short tune on his keyboard)

Prince   But I’m not done shaving yet! (Rubs face) I can’t jam without a smooth face.

Hesse   Yeah, yeah. You’re still pretty, okay? (To CHLOE) Make yourself comfortable, Chloe. And give us some feedback, will you? We’re working on something right now that sounds … lacking, for some reason.

PRINCE sulkily gets his guitar plugged and everyone gets ready.

Prince   (murmurs into the microphone in a sexy baritone) It’s called ‘Paper Bombs’.

They launch into a number that involves heavy drumbeats and a mash of screaming guitars. The song ends with a final riff of the guitar.

Hesse   (to CHLOE) How was it?

Chloe   (nods) Pretty good.

Prince   Pretty good? Pretty good? That’s all you can say?

Chloe   What do you want me to say?

Prince   After all we’ve put into performing it, you could at least give us a scream. Or make an impromptu banner. Or if even all that’s too taxing, you could at least clap.

Chloe   I’m not a groupie. I’m an audience.

Prince   You’re a horrible audience.

Chloe   Is that how you speak to your audience? Every audience is a potential fan.

Hesse   She sounds scarily like Ben.

Chloe   Who’s Ben?

Hesse   Our manager.

Prince   You know what? Let’s do this again. I don’t care. (To CHLOE) You, as my assistant, are going to tell me what the problem is.

They perform ‘Paper Bombs’ again.

Prince   Well?

Chloe   Maybe it’s because I’m not a fan of all this metal, but I really think there’s too much guitar screaming around. And the drumbeats. It’s distracting and makes the song sound too generic. It takes away the power of the lyrics. It might be better if it were acoustic. (Shrugs) But that’s just my opinion.

Silence fills the garage.

Sawyer   You really think so?

Hesse   (considering) Might work. It’s worth giving a shot.

Prince   Wait a minute. Just – wait a minute. (Turns to CHLOE) Acoustic? Are you kidding me? This song is all about the power. I’m trying to make a statement with the lyrics. The metal is to draw out the rawness of the heartbreak when the girl dumps the guy through a series of letters. And you’re telling me we should go acoustic?

Chloe   You wanted my opinion.

Prince   I didn’t need that.

Chloe   Oh, you mean my criticism?

Prince   No, I mean your unprofessional take on a song I put my heart and soul into. We put our heart and soul into.

Chloe   I never claimed to be a professional. I’m just an assistant.

Sawyer   I thought you said you haven’t agreed to it yet.

Prince   Who wants an assistant like her?

Hesse   (warningly) Prince. You’ve only just fired Keith. Walk it off.

Sawyer   (to CHLOE) If you decide not to work for Prince, there’s always me. I’m a whole lot nicer, I promise. Plus, I’ll pay you double.

Prince   Shut up, Sawyer. She’s my assistant. Besides, you know I need an assistant more than you do.

Sawyer   What’s that supposed to mean?

Hesse   Oh, come on, guys. Don’t do this.

Prince   We all know I’m the Paul McCartney of this band. I can’t help it if everyone pays more attention to me, Sawyer, but you seem to think I’m stealing something from you.

SAWYER punches PRINCE across the face.

Prince   (cries) Not the face! Not the face! My cheekbone! (To no one in particular) Is it dented? Am I still pretty? (Grabs CHLOE by the shoulders and shaking her) Am I?

Chloe   You need to shut up and calm the hell down.

Sawyer   (to PRINCE) You arrogant little bastard. I’ll make it bigger than you. And when that time comes, you’ll be begging me for an autograph to sell on eBay because you can’t afford the rent in that fancy-ass suite of yours.

Hesse   Sawyer, come on. You know Prince. He doesn’t mean –

Sawyer   Enough with the Prince thing already. His name is Ethan. If he can be a prince, I can be a duke or something.

JON starts playing a piece on his keyboard. The notes start out quiet, so that no one hears it at first. Gradually, it builds up into a strong melody that silences everyone. When it ends, everyone is staring at JON.

Jon   We started out as a rock band. With a dream to share our music with the world. But what we are is a pop idol group. And we agreed to see that as just a platform, a stepping stone to what we really want, to become rock stars. Why the hell are you two fighting over who has more girls screaming over him?

PRINCE and SAWYER fidget in shame.

Hesse   Yeah. Have a break, have a KitKat, or whatever. (Opens the mini fridge and pulling out a jumbo packet of chocolate) Sit. (Distributes chocolate all around) Now eat.

As everyone munches absently on chocolate, PRINCE pulls out a mini mirror from his back pocket and checks his face for damage.

Sawyer   Look, I’m sorry about … (gestures to PRINCE’s face) you know. You’re still pretty, all right?

Prince   I know. And I didn’t mean what I said. I mean, I am more popular than you, but it’s not like it matters. You know why I started out with this anyway; I didn’t mean to compete with anyone.

Sawyer   (nodding) Have you settled all the debts at home?

PRINCE shakes his head.

Hesse   But your mom said….

Prince   What my mom doesn’t know won’t kill her. I told her I’ve settled everything.

Hesse   Don’t you think she’ll find out somehow? And does she know about the tabloids?

Prince   She collects every snippet of news about me. How can she not know? She’s been choking up my voicemail ever since.

Jon   You can’t keep avoiding her. And you know, having her (gestures to CHLOE) around will only complicate things further.

Hesse   And Ben would never allow that. You’re his fattest cash cow –

Prince   I’m fat?

He pulls off t-shirt to reveal his fine physique. CHLOE blushes furiously.

Sawyer   Put that away, jeez! Are you trying to give us sore eyes?

Prince   (to HESSE) Fat? Is this fat to you? (Flexes his abs and biceps) I keep this body in tiptop condition at all times, FYI. I’m a sight for sore eyes. (To CHLOE) Aren’t I?

Chloe   (still blushing)

SAWYER, HESSE and JON roll their eyes.

Hesse   Okay, okay. I take that back, okay? Now will you stop exhibiting yourself to us?

Prince   (pulling his t-shirt back on) One thing at a time. First, no one is going to mention her to Ben. As soon as this whole thing with the paps blows over, we’ll all be too busy with the concerts for Ben to care about some assistant of mine. And as for my mom, that’s a distant problem we don’t have to worry about as long as I’m still raking in the money.

Jon   But I don’t think that’s going to be a distant problem.

Prince   You’re right. Of course it isn’t. It isn’t even a problem at all.

Jon   No, I mean it’s more immediate than you think.

Prince   … Why?

Hesse   Well. Because she called. (Waves PRINCE’s cellphone) While you were out. Says she’s coming over. She’s on the next flight in from Greece.

Deathly silence creeps in.

Prince   You couldn’t find a spare second to mention that earlier? Holy shit, Hesse! Holy freaking shit! My mom’s flying over? Dammit, Hesse! Dammit!

Hesse   Hey, don’t shoot the messenger.

CHLOE goes over to PRINCE and slaps him.

Prince   (screams) NOT THE FACE!

Chloe   You’re sort of hysterical.

Prince   Well, yeah, of course I am. My mother’s coming over!

Chloe   And that’s … bad?

Hesse   The last time his mother came over, she meddled so much Highway Heaven almost lost our contract with the record company. She means well, the sweet lady, but….

Prince   (stares at CHLOE) We need to hide her. Now. My mom can’t see her!

Chloe   What? I thought you said she’s not a problem!

Prince   That was before I knew she’s flying over. (Grabs CHLOE’s hand and drags her to ) Rope. We need rope. Tie her up so she won’t leave this garage. Rope! Get me some rope!

Chloe   You’re crazy! (Tears out of the garage)

Sawyer   Beautiful! Don’t go! Aw, man. (Turns to PRINCE) Look what you did, assbag.

Hesse   (stares after CHLOE) I think you just lost your assistant the same day you got her. What a record.

 

 

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Yes, it’s been a while. I’m done wallowing in those rejection letters. Now I’m still awaiting replies from agents while I query more of them.

In the meantime, here are some writing links I found useful:

On introverted writers

Tips for writing a really good “shitty first draft” from Writer Unboxed

12 Famous Writers on Literary Rejection, from Aerogramme Writers’ Studio

Lately, I’ve been drawing inspiration from classic children’s stories like Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. Ever since I saw this picture of Super Junior member Lee Donghae, my mind has latched onto the idea of a modern Peter Pan.

 
And:
 
 

Doesn’t he look just like a Peter Pan? That twinkle in his eye and that smile! *fangirl mode on*

And then there’s this quote from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan:

 
 
 
And this, from Alice in Wonderland:
 
 
 
  
Gotta love magical realism – there’s just something comforting and promising about them. This is the vein I’ve been writing in for UNTIL MORNING, the first draft of which I completed a week ago: whimsical, romantic, funny and somehow sad. At least, that’s how I hope it turns out.


Next up, I’m finally going to try and finish writing FIFTEEN MINUTES DOWN SUNSET AVENUE, after letting it languish in My Documents folder for too long as I worked on BLOOD PROMISE and UNTIL MORNING. Until then, Peter Pan can wait.

#^$%^#%, WIP!


Big problem. Big, big problem with my work-in-progress. And here is where I come to whine sort out my thoughts.

I’m torn between abandoning my WIP and pressing on. Of course, I’m more inclined towards the latter. But I’ve come to the devastating conclusion that I am not ready to write this story. I was never meant to write this story. Yes, I had fun writing it. But that, really, seems to be all there is to it. It’s just a story, a simple shallow story without a discernable theme, inconsistent characters and a meek plot. I don’t have anything to say about anything, and my characters are just going with the flow, not forced to make their own decisions or learn something about themselves or the world they live in.

Long story short (pun unintended), I can’t go on.

A hiatus and a revision later, 15 MINUTES DOWN SUNSET AVENUE is still not working. It feels like I’m surrendering, giving up at page 241 now, but I simply don’t know how to rev up the engine again. Here I am, giving in to the midstory goblin, just like I had for MINT. Except while I gave up at page 157 for MINT, I’m giving up at page 241 now.

But 15 MINUTES is a complete mess, in terms of plot, characters and theme. The characters are inconsistent, especially Prince, and the stakes are not high enough. The subplots are not complementing the main plot as well as I would like them to, and the characters haven’t experienced the proverbial end of the world before dawn breaks. And I’m already at page 241. How long more am I going to make my characters walk about on the page? How are the characters going to make tough choices if there isn’t a strong enough conflict to jolt them into action?

Okay. Deep breath. One problem at a time.

Problem 1: character.

Prince. One of the main characters. Arrogant, narcissistic pop idol who went on a two-year hiatus after his father, with whom he is very close, died. He has decided to fulfil his father’s wish and make a comeback. Problem: in the period he’s been gone, other pop idols have risen and eclipsed him, but his fans remain loyal and stand by him throughout his tumultuous journey to reclaim his throne.

And that’s where the logical problem lies. If he’s got such a huge and devout fan base, why would his comeback be such a struggle for him? I wrote it such that his arrogance and impetuousness is the reason why directors and music producers are reluctant to work with him. But he’s a good cash cow – wouldn’t they fight to work with him even though he’s really difficult to work with? Also, I intended to make his comeback really tough and fraught with problems (personal life – his relationship with Chloe; public image – a sore loser who can’t deal with competition; reputation – impulsive, conceited brat, rude to the media), but how tough can it be if there are so many fans supporting him? Because for all his shortcomings, Prince is the best when it comes to his fans and close friends. I need him to have a redeeming quality, you see, otherwise readers will hate him.

Also, another problem: his father died. If he was so devastated by his father’s death, so much so that he had to take a 2-year hiatus from work, wouldn’t he be more humble and less arrogant, narcissistic and impulsive? He would be more sombre, or at least slightly more mature, wouldn’t he? But I’ve always had the image of Prince as an arrogant brat who is, if nothing, generous to the people he loves. People who know him love him as much as they hate him, while his fans are completely smitten with him. So that’s another problem.

Next, the problem of theme. Every story needs one. Every story needs to circle around this theme and provide an insight into the human condition (or at least, just the protagonist’s condition) or the environment he or she lives in. What’s the theme for 15 MINUTES? What was my theme for MINT? Am I making the same mistake? Not digging deep enough into my story? I suppose Chloe’s fear of stepping out of her comfort zone could be something readers might relate to. That, and her inability to make decisions for herself, seeing as how she is so used to taking care of others and putting other people’s needs before her own. I could use this encounter with Prince and his world to trigger a character transformation in Chloe. But, if Chloe was afraid to step out of her comfort zone, why would she agree to be Prince’s assistant? Oh right, because of the money. Her parents’ business venture failed….

(Don’t mind me. I’m just thinking aloud.)

Another problem: plot. What are the stakes, for Chloe and Prince? They aren’t high enough. Their problems are not big enough to make readers want to stick around and find out what happened to them in the end. No one will care. Prince needs to lose everything he has. His career, Chloe … his fans? He (and Chloe, now employed as his personal assistant) need to abandon all hope, make a decision, stick to it and live with the consequences. But he hasn’t lost enough yet. Maybe I’m mollycoddling my characters too much. I don’t want anything too bad to happen to them. Maybe that’s why I’m stuck in this stalemate. I have my antagonist, Sawyer, who is Prince’s bandmate and now rival (because he signed on to be a pop idol without telling Prince) in both the spotlight and in love (i.e. Chloe). I have Prince’s mother, who will remove anyone and anything that stands in the way of Prince’s success. But how to make them work – how to weave the story, subplots with main plot – is the question.

Anyone who thinks writing a story is easy needs to try it on their own.

Given that a number of things (not too significant, so don’t hold your breath, if you are) have happened since the last time I blogged, I think I’ll make a list of updates this time.

I. Bidding period begins.

Can you feel the anticipation, the territorial vigilance with which everyone is camping out before their computers, lying in wait for the next bidder so that they can one-up him and throw in a higher bid? I know seniors get priority (well, not exactly priority – just that they have more points accumulated from past semesters and can afford to bid higher), but with so few options this coming semesters, competition for English modules is tough! And because of some administrative failures last semester, I absolutely have to take five English modules next semester so I can graduate on time. So I HAVE – did I mention HAVE? – to secure all five. The only five, in fact, because I’ve taken the rest before. You’d wonder why they offer so few English modules for this coming semester. I could ask the same.

So if everything goes according to plan, I’d be taking:

1. EL3204, Discourse Structure
2. EL3206, Psycholinguistics
3. EL3252, Language Planning and Policy
4. EL3880E, Second Language Learning,
5. EL3257, Investigating Language in the Media

I know. Hardly inspiring or scintillating. But, you know, school is school. No more fun modules, like Playwriting or language modules. Speaking of which, I got the A I wanted for Playwriting, and did better than I expected for my other modules. It’s different when you feel passionately about the things you study, indeed.

II. One more semester and I’m done with school. Can you believe it? Not to sound completely corny, but it feels just like yesterday that I attended my first 10am lecture at LT11. I was rereading Megan McCafferty’s Charmed Thirds, the third of the Jessica Darling series, where Jess attends Columbia University. And I just felt like it was such an apt book to be reading, because I could totally relate to what she was going through. The uncertainty, in the new environment and in herself, the diversity, and the stuff she was learning, the what-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life-after-I-graduate brand of anxiety. My three years of tertiary education is coming to an end, and I feel more than ever the pressure to make a decision, pick a path already, plan plan plan your life, don’t waste time or you’ll fall behind.

I admit, a lot of the pressure comes from myself. My dad’s not putting any pressure on me to earn my first million by the time I’m 25 or whatever, but I do want to achieve something quick so that I can show my dad that I will get by in life and that he doesn’t have to worry so much.

But 2012 seems bleak, at least on the job market front. And that’s not something I can control. So in the words of my dad, let go of what you can’t control.

III. So Christmas has come and gone. Next up: New Year’s. Excited? Not really. Thankful, though? Definitely. We’ve all lived through another year, at the very least, and that’s always something to be thankful for.

IV. I’m currently reading The Grift by Debra Ginsberg. This is the third time I’m attempting to read it. I don’t know why I didn’t manage to get through it the previous couple of times, because it’s actually a pretty well-written story. Not so much about plot, but about character, and it’s high time I learnt how to write a character-driven novel without sucking instead of falling back on plot every time my story stalls.

And remember when I said my goal was to finish writing Fifteen Minutes Down Sunset Avenue by the end of this holiday? Yeah, that’s not going to happen. Unless I manage to write, like, ten pages a day every day until 9 January 2012, the first day of school (after which I won’t have time to write at all). At the rate I’m going (about three pages a day), that seems highly unlikely. Still, it’s making progress. And I’ve finally come up with an idea on how I’m going to raise the stakes and resolve the story. All that’s left is to write it. Which is always easier said than done.

V. The National Arts Council is organising a competition to select five young adult manuscripts to publish. And I was considering sending in Fifteen Minutes, but that doesn’t seem possible now. With all the editing to do, it’ll take me months before I deem the final manuscript ready. Besides, I’m still too attached to Lambs for Dinner to pass it up for this competition. But one of the criteria is that the story should not incite violence. And Lambs is really a little dark. Maybe not gory, but it might incite violence, how should I know? So I either risk submitting something that may or may not go against their criteria, or submit something that’s not ready yet. I don’t know about you, but the latter seems much worse to me. So Lambs it is. I believe more in it than Fifteen Minutes anyway. At least for the moment.

On (not-so) Secret Novel, amazing novels, and novel experiences

It’s taken me long enough to blog again.

School starts in a week. And while I’m looking forward to LAF1201 (Beginner French) and EN3271 (Advanced Playwriting), I’m keeping my fingers crossed (if I believe in crossing fingers) that this semester isn’t going to sap me of all I am.

Still, I have a week more to go. And I intend to spend it the way I want. That, of course, involves writing.

I’m working on my new novel!!!! (Can you tell how excited I am? If I could add on more exclamation marks without looking like a prepubescent girl at a Bieber concert, I would.)

For the past couple of weeks, I was toying with the idea of working on Novel A and Novel B. I decided on Novel A, but after just twelve pages decided I wasn’t convinced with my characters enough to go any further. And while agonising over Novel A, scenes for Novel B just kept forming in my head, and it was Novel B that I kept thinking about before I went to bed.

So last Saturday, I thought, what the heck, horrible timing be damned (it is one week before school – and all relevant madness – begins, after all), and got started on Novel B. And since then, I’ve written four chapters. I’m excited because it reminds me of the time I wrote LAMBS FOR DINNER, the thought process, the way the story flows out of my fingertips, the way I had to rush to keep up with the ideas in my head, the things the characters are saying in my head. I haven’t felt this exhilarated while writing since LAMBS.

No, wait. I have. When I was finishing up THE DREAMCATCHERS.

Speaking of which, I’ve completed that! In the middle of July, in the middle of MNO1001 lect (Management and Organisation, which I’m taking to fulfil my Breadth requirement). After a whole year of second-guessing and self-doubt and almost giving up, I’ve finally pulled through. Sometimes, it’s not that you can’t write; it’s that you won’t. I kept telling myself I couldn’t think of anything to propel the story forward, and I couldn’t think of how to resolve the story. But once I got down to it, everything managed to tie itself up pretty nicely (if I do say so myself).

But now, I’m stashing THE DREAMCATCHERS away in the drawer for a month before returning to edit it (so that I will be an objective editor and my perception will not be too skewed). And on to work on secret new novel!

Oh, okay. The title’s FIFTEEN MINUTES DOWN SUNSET AVENUE. I’m still not too sure about it, though. I wish I could think of some strong title, like SHIVER (by the unbelievably talented and funny Maggie Stiefvater), which captures the essence and the mood of the story.

And speaking of the WOLVES OF MERCY FALLS trilogy, I just rushed down to Kino after my swim last Thursday to buy the final installment, FOREVER! SHIVER remains one of the best-written stories I’ve ever read. And I am completely stoked to read FOREVER. Just the first page – just the prologue – looks so good. I’m going to relish every word and read it as slowly as possible.

Blog-surfing today led me to this post by Natalie Whipple, YA author: Happy writers: finding confidence in yourself. Which gives us a much-needed boost of assurance as we create the story we want to read, and the world we wish to live in. And What I Really Want to Say to New Writers helps put things in perspective.

On a final note, here’s what I meant by ‘novel experiences’:

Modules I’m taking next semester:

1. LAF1201 (I just looked at the notes posted on IVLE – everything’s in French. Wonderful. Just…wonderful.)
2. LAC3203 – Chinese for Science and Technology. I had fun last sem with LAC3204, laoshi was nice and really put effort in helping each of us improve in our Chinese, and the coursework was relevant and useful.
3. EL2201 – Sound System of English. Big yay for phonetics and phonology! I had fun learning that under Mie Sensei in my freshman year, sem 1.
4. EN3271. More second-guessing and self-doubt (it is writing, after all). But with critique partners and constructive criticism and lots of fun (it’s one of the classes I laughed the most and hardest in ever since entering NUS).
5. EL3256 – Language in the Workplace.

Bring on senior year sem 1!