This is what I’ve been doing for the past week, preparing for my Sociology exam (3 essays in 2 hours):

Despite the an-essay-a-day routine in the week leading up to the most dreaded SC2210 exam on Tuesday (24/11/09), my writing still left much to be desired. Maybe it’s because I was required to churn out 3 essays instead of the 1 that I was used to, in JC. For GP, we had an hour and a half to write a properly thought-out essay that you could spare maybe the last 20 minutes editing. But the SC2210 paper was like a Human Geog essay, where I was scribbling so furiously my hands cramped up pretty badly. Not fun. Really, it took away all the fun of writing an essay. Plus, I noticed the length of my essays gradually got shorter and shorter. I was so drained by the end of it. Maybe I’ve fallen out of the essay-writing momentum. Writing Geog essays is good training. Makes you hardier, because you’ve endured the agony, the hardship. Builds up your mental stamina … that falls to bits after a year of slacking.

But the Philo and New Media exams were MCQ, and so is English (this coming Monday), which gave me some breathing space. After the rigour of the JC curriculum, uni feels like a huge relief (apart from the tiresome projects). For now, at least. I don’t want to jinx the coming semesters.

Anyway, I’ve decided to put off Mint for now and focus on Patches of Blue Sky (need to change title soon!), because Mint doesn’t seem to have much of a solid plot despite my upbeat note not too long ago about the summary-equals-strong-foundation bullshit. It wasn’t quite as painful as I’d expected it to be, probably because I’ve neglected it for so long (thanks to schoolwork) that I was practically detached from my characters.

Still, good news is, Patches is taking shape very nicely. There’s a proper pacing thanks to an element I’ve decided to incorporate, and the words flow relatively easily (for now – not about to jinx anything!), more easily than for Bedful of Moonlight, almost as easily as When the Lilies Turn Orange. Yiruma’s music is a drug, is all I can say.

Triv told me she’d read a couple of my ‘stories’ that I’d written prior to my first proper novel, Lilies. The word is in inverted commas because, as aforementioned, I don’t regard anything I’ve written before Lilies a proper, publishable story that I’m particularly proud of. So she read High Grounds – which I wrote when I was 15 – and said she could see the improvement from that to my subsequent novels, which is one thing good that came out of it, I suppose. Writing High Grounds was actually fun, despite the many cringe-worthy bits. I enjoyed creating the drama, weaving the romance and spinning the catty betrayals. But in retrospect, it is too run-of-the-mill teen series, very OC-ish, The Clique-ish in my book and very 90210-ish in Triv’s (I don’t watch that show, so I don’t know). Still, when I was writing that, I didn’t have being published in mind, because then, I was still under the impression that you needed lots of money for start-up fee to get published: paying the literary agents, the editors, etc. So I was writing that purely for my own enjoyment.

But later, after writing Lilies, I decided I wanted an audience, or at least some people to tell me how they felt when they read my story. So I researched more on publishing, and found out – whaddya know – you don’t need any start-up fee, just loads of dedication, perseverance, a tough hide and a willingness to learn – and, of course, the discipline to actually crank out those words.

That’s what NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is all about, isn’t it? I did think of taking part in it this year, but because November is a hectic month for those in uni, I didn’t have the time to embark on the 50k marathon (the idea is to write a 50,000-word novel in a month – that, as they say, involves lots of caffeine).

But that’s okay. I’m not the type who forces myself to stare at the computer screen till my eyes bleed, just so I can write the 5 pages I tell myself to write everyday. Some days the words just get the better of you, and some days you can grasp them in your palm. Ultimately, the writer is the one in absolute control of the way his or her novel turns out. And the best thing is, there are so many possibilities. That’s scary, in a way, but also what makes creative writing so exciting. I realised it’s the only – well, one of the only few – things that actually makes me feel like life is worth living. Some people work hard for the money, for the designer Coach wallets, for the photos of them clubbing that they can stick on Facebook and have everyone comment on it. Others prefer staying at home, Yiruma replaying on the stereo, and creating a world that is entirely their own.

Guess that is the main reason why I am, to quote Chooyan, ‘so single I don’t even have a has-been’, ‘as evergreen (a term uni people fancy when referring to themselves or others who have been single since forever) as Bukit Timah Reserve’.