Happy 2014!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! We’ve finally made the leap over to 2014, and I believe things are only going to get better from here :0)

How has 2014 been for you so far? They say the first day of the year sets a precedent on how you will spend the rest of the year. I don’t really believe that because I think it’s never too late too start over even if you fall off the wagon. But I do believe in starting the year right. So after my loooong looooovely swim, I spent an hour and a half editing Blood Promise in the morning, woke my dad up, fetched my grandmother to the temple, had brunch with my dad and went shopping for Chinese New Year decorations after that at Chinatown.

The decorations for Chinese New Year are pretty much all up. And my dad and I walked up and down the streets in the blustery weather to capture some shots.

These flying horses look so portentous against the steel-grey sky. I am just itching to write a story based on this photo. Something for Indigo Tides, maybe?
This one was right in the middle of the road junction.
Horses galloping down Chinatown under a shower of golden coins.
Guess we weren’t the only ones getting started on our Chinese New Year shopping
Melon seeds, anyone?
How cool are the Chinese-mask lanterns in this bakery!

And finally, my dad convinced my my hair didn’t suck (my hairstylist wrecked my bangs – I’m sorry, but he did), and he made me pose for this photo. It doesn’t look that bad here thanks to the wind.

Oh, and I was reading Laini’s old blog today and I learned she’s a new-start/Monday/New Year-lover like me! This is an excerpt from her old post back in 2009 (yes, that’s how far back I’ve read, because that’s how awesome she is to justify my trawling through her old posts):

I love a new year. I love a new week, even — Mondays feel like a time for beginnings, for making new commitments, you know? So, a new year is like the emperor of Mondays, the perfect time to spiff up one’s life and routines, make new routines, break some bad habits, start fresh. It is possible to form new habits — as proven by the fact that since painting the bedroom and getting new linens back in June, we have made the bed every day. Which, er, wasn’t the case before. Nothing like new bed linens to entice one to make the bed every day! So: what is the life equivalent of new bed linens? How to spiff up your life? Your writing habits?

So. New reading/writing habits (or ones I’d like to keep) for 2014:

1. Write something every day, be it a blog post, a short story, a scene, a chapter, or even a miserable paragraph.

2. Read something every day. In fact, read more than I do now. Back when we didn’t have Internet (I feel old saying that), reading was about the only form of entertainment I had so I read more. But now with the Internet, there are so many other things you can do other than read, and I feel like I’ve fallen back on my reading. My Goodreads to-read pile has 186 books, at last count!

But, you know:

3. Be constantly updated on publishing news. You have to learn all you can about the place you want to go, after all. Being in the know can only up your chances in the game.

4. Be more of a perfectionist in my writing. And less impatient to see results. I tend to hurry the writing/editing process because I’m to eager to see the end product and start querying agents. But you can’t really rush this. Because you only get one chance to impress an agent before he or she decides to toss your manuscript into the slush pile. It has to be PERFECT. Or at least somewhere close to it.

And some mood-lifters for the first workday of 2014,

*dies of cuteness*

(Speaking of cute babies, Laini Taylor’s daughter, Clementine, is impossibly adorable! I die every time I see a picture of her! She always seems so happy, like her parents. Arghh, so much happiness and cuteness – such a perfect family.)

And more cuteness (of a different sort):

Yes, I am completely shallow. What’s your point? ;0)

And something to ponder over for the day:

And with that,

Have the best year of your life yet!

of gatherings, saggy middles and a crush on an author (and yes, pretty faces)

Monday! 

I like to start off the week catching up on blogs. Laini Taylor’s blog is always a mood-lifter: she writes about her travels to exotic places like Morocco and takes beautiful shots of France, and her daughter Clementine is soooooo adorable and happy, and her husband is as creative and fun-loving and sweet as her and they all seem like such Shiny Happy People.

Is it possible to be entirely in love with someone you’ve never met and only know through her writing? Because I am head over heels in love with Laini Taylor and her fabulous, creative, artistic, whimsical life and family.

How I see Laini and her family

And oh, just a little piece of news: SHE’S FINALLY COMPLETED DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS!!!!! 

 photo deanfangirling_zpsb5a19590.gif 

 photo yay_zpsd7a305ae.gif 

APRIL 2014, COME QUICK!!!!!! I need to devour that book now!!!!!!

 photo sheldonhyperventilating_zps60d1c0f1.gif 

Okay. I’m done spazzing.

 

*

 

Literary agent Victoria Marini has some timely advice for this writer struggling with her first draft, the one so raw you can hear it moo or caw or whatever sounds animals make when they’re alive and kicking and not ready to be served on a dish. (It’s also what I like to call Draft Zero – capitalisation for dramatic effect – so raw it’s not even entirely in prose form, just scattered prose and mostly dialogue and stage directions.)

 

“I suspect the main reason that people who wish to write, but fail to write, do so because they want write well. You must, first, be willing to write terribly.  If you want to write a book, your goal should be to write a book. Not a good book. Just a book. Worry about the “good” part later. Ms. (Annie) Lamott is a huge believer in “the shitty first draft.” She argues, rightly if you ask me, that a first draft is just for getting it out of your head an onto the paper. It’s sort of meant to be bad. Just get it out; word vomit! You don’t even need to show anyone (certainly don’t show your agent ;). It’s just getting the bones of your story on paper. Once you have that version done (and most people don’t get THAT far)  you can start to worry about being good.” 


I hate to say this, but it’s become increasingly undeniable that I AM STUCK for Neverland. Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. The pace is flagging, and I can’t think of a dramatic or emotionally-gratifying way to weave my characters and their dreams and fears and motivations together. Every idea I have just falls flat like the way tepid tea sits on your tongue. Completely disappointing.

Still, I shall take the above advice and plow through the crap. Hopefully, I’ll have made some headway the next time I blog.

 

*

 

So last weekend, I managed to extricate myself from my computer, on which I’ve been watching the old episodes of We Got Married, a Korean “reality TV” show  that brings celebrities together in a make-belief marriage and then chronicles their lives as they do couple-y things that make us sad single people even sadder. I’ve watched the Leeteuk (from Super Junior) and Kang Sora episodes, and now I’m watching the Nichkhun (from 2pm) and Victoria (from f(x)) ones.

Fine. You caught me. I only decided to watch this for the pretty faces. Whatever. Nichkhun is CUUUUTE.

Seriously, who can resist that face? Plus, he’s such a sweetheart to Victoria even when she’s being difficult. 

ANYWAY. That wasn’t my point. My point is that I went out and socialised! Broke out of my isolation! Stuck my head out of my hermit cave! (And other annoying cliches.) And I attended not just one class gathering, but two! So yes, break out the champagne.

There was no champagne at the class barbecue last Saturday at my primary school gathering, but booze was definitely aplenty. Plus, seafood. And chicken. (Oh god, that chicken. It could be the most divine thing I’ve ever tasted.) 

 photo ronweasleyeating_zpsaa1869d1.gif

 photo joeyimnotevensorry_zps63f2c575.gif

It’s funny, but I used to get so nervous about attending these class gatherings. After all, these are the people who have known you since you were a kid, and they are the ones who bear witness to the crazy stupid shit you did then. But we do crazy stupid shit now anyway, so I guess  craziness and stupidity isn’t something you leave behind once you cross a certain age threshold.

Here’s a fairly normal shot of us

 

Before we decided normal is over-rated.


Last Friday night rolled out in a similar fashion, despite the drizzle.

 


Socialising is like running – for me, at least. You have to drag yourself to gatherings/events and convince yourself it’ll be fun, but then it turns out to be really rewarding, just like you have to tow your ass to the track (although I don’t run anymore since swimming is my cardio drug of choice) but then you experience runner’s high and it becomes all worth the effort.  

Still, that’s enough human interaction for one week. I shall retreat into my cave now. Merry Christmas!