Goodbye, 2020

Yes, I know time is a social construct and exists independently of humans, so the concept of New Year is just our way of creating some semblance of linearity so we can bring some order into the chaos etc., but I like the idea of beginning anew, moving inexorably from this moment to the next, and discovering what lies ahead. I like the idea of leaving the past behind us even as we hold close the lessons that hindsight brings us. I like the definitive delineation that the New Year offers, like chapter breaks that let us get up for a drink of water and some space to clear our minds. I like the clarity that the stillness brings after the relentless motion of the entire year.

The pocket of space between this year and the next is a time to breathe, reclaim ourselves, and plan our next step. To remind ourselves of how far we’ve come and how we each have the strength to go further. To smile. To dream. To grief. To hurt. To achieve. To discover. To love again.

So thank you, 2020. You’ve been strange, surreal, chaotic, intense, heartbreaking and beautiful all at once. Here’s to serendipitous discoveries, unwavering inner peace, and the courage to pursue what sets our souls on fire in 2021 as we make our way through the inherent chaos of life.

Bring it on, 2020.

Things to leave behind in 2019:

1. Negative self-talk
2. Self-doubt
3. The feeling of not being enough
4. The fear of making the first move
5. The need to be busy constantly
6. The desire to please everyone.

Things to embrace in 2020:

  1. Serendipitous encounters
  2. Heart-to-heart talks
  3. Letting go of structure and routine, following my mood and curiosity
  4. Saying what’s on my mind
  5. Listening to my body
  6. Reading more books, watching more films, putting the phone down

Sometimes, the thought of how finite our time is terrifies me. It sends me into a desperate frenzy to do everything all at once. Pick up a new skill. Enroll in a new course. Pack my social schedule back-to-back. Work on several side hustles. Complete my work ahead of time. Read multiple books at once. Write multiple books at once. No rest for the weary.

I had this insane thought that I needed to achieve everything I set out to in my twenties, otherwise I would have wasted all my youth. We only have that many decades to live, after all.

But it was in my relentless pursuit in the race against time that I had, ironically, lost time. Time to live instead of merely carve out a life.

Maybe we’re not meant to do everything all at once. Maybe I’ve been sprinting all this time with the audacious hope that I could be the one to defy the odds, unwilling to accept my fallibility. Maybe instead of constantly trying to push our limits, we need to understand why they exist to begin with. Maybe that’s when we can finally grow beyond our past selves.

So as this decade begins, I’m staring the present right in the figurative eye before it, too, becomes another memory. Not every moment has been perfect, but I’m thankful for every step of the way – the tears and laughter, the sleepless nights and hazy days, the moments of crippling despair and the moments of unadulterated happiness.

May we all enter the new decade with the same audacity and hope, but also more kindness for ourselves. After all, we only have that many decades to live.

Happy New Year to one and all!

Not too late for New Year resolutions, is it?

Excuse me, but it’s 2018 already? What are we, speed-racing through life?? Wasn’t it just last month that we were out partying going to bed at 11pm on New Year’s Eve and resolving to make 2017 less of a complete waste than 2016?

siwon wtf

You and I both, Siwon.

(Note to self: make less abstract resolutions next time.)

((Have to say, though, 2017 was less of a complete waste than 2016 where the writing is concerned.))

Given that it’s only been a week into 2018, though, I think it’s not too late to get the resolutions out.

So you can all hold me accountable to the following:


  1. Complete at least the first draft of LAND OF SAND AND SONG
    … Even though I’m only at page 56 and already despairing at how sucky it is. I mean, I know a first draft is supposed to suck, but this has to be way beyond the regular limits of suckage.
    Still, I’ll have to trust that this will all work itself out, like it always had (speaking from experience here). I’ve got a plot outline, I’ve got my character dossiers, I’ve got my Three-Act Structure.

    dean winchester you got this.gif

    Thanks, Dean.

  2. Work NO ROOM IN NEVERLAND to perfection
    That means NOT letting it languish in a folder. NOT sitting on it when it comes to querying time. NOT getting discouraged by (more) rejection letters. NOT giving up on this story I still believe in and want to share with the world.
    It means deleting or rewriting any part that seems remotely out of place in the story, and making sure every word deserves its spot in the manuscript.
    It means discipline and laser focus.
    It means putting in the work.
    Like James Ellison said, write with your heart but rewrite with your head.
  3. Write at least 12 short stories in a year
    … Which shouldn’t be hard to do, given that I’ve committed to our short story blog. Having deadlines definitely holds you accountable.
    jensen ackles eye of the tiger
  4. Don’t suck the fun out of writing
    In 2016, I beat myself up a lot for not hitting word count, not completing even one novel, not writing enough in general. I ended up burnt out from pressuring myself to churn out words. But writing doesn’t work that way, not with self-flagellation and debilitating guilt. The words only flow when you give yourself space to breathe, to wonder, to explore, to create.
  5. Explore more with Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand
    This fun little project of running a short story blog with a few writer friends turned out to be so much more bad-ass, and I find myself constantly inspired by Meredith, Nicole, and Becky who are the most creative, passionate, and generous writing friends a girl can ask for.
    So this year, we’re planning to ramp things up. Watch that space for more features and, of course, fantastic tales from a steadily growing community of writers!

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  1. Focus on the good
    2017 was rock-bottom for me, especially where my mental health was concerned. And though I wouldn’t say it’s all peachy now, I can now recognise the bad days for what they are and grit my teeth through them. A lot of the times, these moods are like passing storm clouds. You just need to wait out the storm and then you can breathe easy again afterwards.
  2. Eat clean at least three days a week
    I won’t bore you with a breakdown of my diet, but suffice to say I have days where I feel guilty for eating that plate of oily fried eggs. I’m not crazy enough to go on a juice cleanse or some extreme pumpkin soup diet; all I aim to do is eat cleaner and exercise regularly (i.e. daily), which brings me to the next point
  3. Listen to my body
    You know how it is – when you’re young, you tend to think you’re physically invincible and you keep pushing your body to extremes. Or you beat yourself up for “slacking off” when you have to miss a workout because you’re sick or injured. This year, I’m going to try to serve my body better so that it can in turn serve me better.
  4. Give thanks daily
    We complain too much and give too little thanks to the small pleasures and fortunes of every day life. From now on, my mantra will be, “Hey, it could be a lot worse,” just to remind myself how good I actually have it.

And on that note, I am deeply thankful to each and every one of you readers – whether you just lurk (I see you!) or leave a comment or send me a private note. You inspire and move me more than you know, and your encouragement, support, and kindness are what keep me going.

To all the dream-chasers, thrill-seekers, adventurers, peace-lovers, word warriors, and the stubborn, hopeful dreamers, may your cup always be half-full, your heart open and warm, your feet taking you closer to where you want to be, and your soul deeply, deeply alive.

Happy New Year!

2017, here we go

New Year 2017 replace 2016 on sea

So we’ve left 2016 behind at last. Not a minute too soon, methinks. I remember how hopeful and excited I was to make 2016 a year I could look back on and be proud of how much I had accomplished. How 2016 was going to be different. Amazing, despite the changes that had already happened in 2015. I had a novel I was working on! I had just gotten promoted at work! I was making more writer friends! How bad could the coming year be, right?


Maybe it was because I placed too much hope on last year. I asked too much of it. And when my hopes and dreams failed to materialise, my morale and my spirit shrivelled away day by day. I grew lonely, sometimes withdrawn, occasionally cried in bed, and tried to convince myself that I was fine. That this was just a rite of passage, all this shall pass, and that I didn’t need anyone or anything else to make me happy.

But happiness isn’t dependent only on the self. We can’t simply find fulfillment within ourselves and remain in that state of contentment just because our sense of self is so strong. Our state of mind, whether we believe it or not, is ultimately still very much affected by the world in which we live, the world that happens to us, and the world we choose to see.

So there were good days and there were bad days. Some days were particularly awful. Some days allowed me some reprieve and I saw a glimmer of hope and joy. Granted, there were days where I chose to see only the bad and neglected the good. Then there were days where I opened my eyes to the good and the beautiful.

There was the good:

  1. I visited Europe for the first time with my friends. Alone! But with besties! And in Italy!


We had a grand ole time there, and I saw so much beauty that restored my spirit. Truly, it doesn’t get any better than that.

2. I met three incredible ladies online and we forged a friendship so swiftly and easily it was like we were fated to meet in the vast cybersphere all along.


Clockwise: me, Nicole, Meredith, Becky

Nicole, Meredith, and Becky (and all the other writer friends I’ve met along the way) have been such a bright spot in the dark days of despair, self-doubt and loneliness. I find myself eagerly awaiting their long emails, craving the connection, and somehow we all just get one another. We exchanged stories about our lives and stories we write (which we publish on our short story blog Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand), and that’s how we’ve been pulling each other through it.

3. I travelled to Beijing with my dad like he had always wanted.


Climbing the Great Wall was at the top of his bucket list, and he had always wanted me to go with him before he was – in his words – “old and grey and arthritic”.

4. I received several personalised rejections, a couple of revise & resubmit requests, and even went on a Skype call with a literary agent who was incredibly kind and generous with her feedback, advice, and compliments for NO ROOM IN NEVERLAND.

Yes, the rejections bummed me out (SO close!), but they also offered clarity and hope.

But there was also the bad:

  1. My work BFFs left at the end of 2015 and early 2016, which left me all alone in the company. Okay, not quite alone. But with my old tribe gone, I suddenly felt stranded, exposed. And I had spent my entire time at work with these people, so I wasn’t as close to everyone else. It would be strange if I just attached myself to new people all of a sudden. I felt like a square trying to fold all my angles to fit into a circle.
  2. 2016 was the only year since 2009 where I didn’t finish writing at least one novel. I had completed at least one manuscript every year, sometimes 3 a year, until 2016, even though I started the year with BEFORE I REMEMBER YOU and planned to finish it by August at the latest. Nope. Didn’t happen. I wrote draft after draft, wrote myself into a corner, wrote the story to death before it finally spluttered to a stop at page 207 (48K words).
  3. All the deaths in 2016. Illnesses and wars. Need I say more?
  4. Singlehood. While I generally believe that it happens when it happens, and that I would rather be single than be with the wrong guy, that I’m a loner anyway and I don’t really need anyone to feel complete since I’m happy with my own company and my thoughts most of the time, that my books and manuscripts are all I need to keep me entertained… Yeah, in spite of all that, there are still moments – a Saturday afternoon with no particular agenda, for instance – when the loneliness creeps in and I wonder if there really is something wrong with me after all, that maybe I’m just too weird to ever find someone who would know me inside out and love me anyway.
  5. Trump. Don’t even want to talk about it anymore. I am entirely disgusted by the whole circus.
  6. And as if 2016 didn’t suck enough, I ended the year with a sprained foot after taking a tumble to the ground. Spent the last two weeks at home and in pain.

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Yes, all in all, I’ve still got it good. Despite the bad outweighing the good in 2016, I’m still alive and kicking, I have the people I love around me, I have a relatively cushy job that drains my soul once in a while, etc.

Yes, I get all that. I get that I should count my blessings, that I should be thankful. And I am. I am absolutely grateful for all that I have. But I don’t think I’m being unappreciative to want more than this – this routine life of the 9-to-5 white-collared worker. I know very well that this is not where I want to be, and I’m barely there yet. This is a mandatory period of struggle and frustration all aspiring authors have to go through in order to reach where we long to be. So is it wrong to want more than this, to not want to settle for the safe, predictable, comfortable life?

rat race.jpg

This period of time when one year ends and the next one begins is a pretty strange one: it makes us nostalgic and retrospective, but it gives us slightly clearer vision and hope for better things to come.

I’m tired of wanting. Or wanting and not having. Of feeling trapped. Of staying at the same spot. I don’t want 2017 to be just another extension of the unproductive 2016.

So this is what exactly I plan to do this year in order to reach my writing goals:

  1. Finish My Shit

I’m committing to writing – and COMPLETING – a manuscript, be it the problematic BEFORE I REMEMBER YOU that has been full of false starts and no end in sight or LAND OF SAND AND SONG, the first of a fantasy series that’s been brewing in my brain for a while. This year, my motto is to finish what you start, dammit! 

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2. Write Something Every Day

To write consistently every day. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, even if I can only snatch a pocket of time during lunch, on my commute to work. Every little bit counts. The idea is to keep advancing with the word count. No excuses. Not even the demands of the day job is going to keep me away from the WIP. And certainly not my own self-doubt and fear of failure or imperfection.


3. Make NO ROOM IN NEVERLAND Come to Fruition

I still believe in this story. I believe in the emotions it pulled out of me, and it emotions it can evoke in my readers. I believe in it because there are others who believe in it – friends, agents, beta readers, critique partners. People I cannot let down. People who are rooting for me (bless their hearts).


I know what the problems are with this manuscript (and if I don’t I will find out), what makes it less perfect than it should be in order to get represented and published, so it’s high time to whip this thing into shape.

4. Live a Little More Bravely

Okay, this one is not exactly writing-related. And I say this almost every year, but this year I resolve to live a little more. Take a chance. Head outside. Attend gatherings. Date more. Meet new people. Make new friends. Maybe open myself up to love, even though


Let someone into my world. Speak my mind. Wear my heart on my sleeve. Then see what happens. I might be surprised, I might be mortified. But hey, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?


So, dear readers.

Thank you for staying with me throughout the last year. I’m looking forward to more new friendships, soul connections, thought exchanges, and the kindness of strangers this year. What are some of YOUR New Year’s resolutions, writing-related or otherwise? Share them in the Comments section below. I would love to hear from you, as always.

Happy New Year and may 2017 bring you everything you ever wished for and more.

Joyce xx



hello, 2016

Funny how quickly years just pass once you start working. Ever since I started working in the fashion e-commerce industry, time has been measured in sales campaigns, and season by season, festival by festival, we reached the end of 2015.

But all things considered, 2015 has been pretty kind to me.

2015 was the year I travelled with my dad to one of the countries I’ve always wanted to visit.

2015 was the year I was tasked with bigger challenges at work that made it all the more satisfying and engaging.

2015 was the year I made new friends and became closer with existing ones. Friends found in unlikely places, and friends who made the workplace a lot less dull. Old friends I didn’t see as much as I would have liked, but remained in touch with despite our busy schedules. Thank you for being in my life – you know who you are.

2015 was the year I experienced (in a long time) that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling whenever I saw someone. It’s a feeling that makes you smile whenever you think of a person, and realise you aren’t actually dead at heart.

2015 was the year of Neverland, where I spent a good part of it slaving over the manuscript that I’m pitching to agents now.

2015 was the year I got invited to my first ever panel at the Singapore Writers Festival and met other writers, accomplished and aspiring. They made me go more confidently in the direction of my dreams, and the young ones in particular reminded me of that budding passion for writing that I might sometimes have lost sight of in my hurry to get published.

2015 was the year I met fans and made new writer friends who counselled, inspired, and encouraged me whenever my confidence and passion wavered.

2015, however, was also the year I experienced the loss of a family member. It was the year of rejection letters and more moments of despair and thoughts of giving up. It was the year of second-guessing myself and wanting to do more to live up to expectations. It was the year of having a lot yet wanting more. And I don’t see that as a bad thing, because it’s only when you strive for more that you actually get closer to where you want to be.

So in 2016, I will want more. Do more, see more, experience more. And hopefully, I can keep going forward in the direction I choose.

And I wish the same for you, dear readers. Thank you for your constant, invisible but palpable presence. May 2016 be a year of serendipitous encounters and discoveries for you.  I wish you more – I wish you passion and hunger and lofty dreams to chase. May you have more gratifying experiences that are fulfilling but also leave you wanting more.

So here’s to new beginnings and all that. Let’s hope this fuel keeps burning till the end of the year.

state of mind for 2015

So here it is. We’ve made it over to the other side. 2015. How should it be any different from 2014? 2014 was a mess of a year, rife with natural and man-made disasters, and social turbulence, tragic accidents … Ugh, good riddance to 2014.

This time, I don’t want to pin too much hope on 2015. Because that’s what I did last year. Built up all that expectation and anticipation – I want to write two novels this year, enter this competition and that, write a short story and a blog post every week, post it up on forums, make more writer friends, take up a new hobby! THIS is the year I land a literary agent and get published and start leading a more fulfilling life! – only to meet roadblock after roadblock for No Room in Neverland, and receive rejection letter after rejection letter.

I’m not saying I’m going to be completely pessimistic and dour this year, in case you’re thinking I’m starting this year as a grumpy puss. No, I’m just tempering my expectations, taking whatever comes along for what they are. I’m not going to get ahead of myself, just do what needs to be done – rewrite that novel for the fourth time? Bring it. Edit and polish old manuscripts and look for new platforms to gather feedback. Read more books, read outside of what I typically read, watch more movies and drama series, find more new music, to collect fresh, new ideas. Just the gritty work that are a lot less pretty than those daydreams of being published. As happy as I am for authors who achieve mega success because heck yeah they deserve it, I’m done with sighing wistfully over their writing and wishing I could have what they have.

These novels, all this effort into editing and rewriting and pitching to agents, may amount to nothing. And it’s easy to get caught up in the whole quest of getting published. But really, what I really need is to write a book that doesn’t suck, that people would want to read.

As Chuck Wendig said,

Writing a book and putting it out in the world is an act of ego — not egomania, but the willingness and decision to create a story out of nothing and push it forward into the world is a bold, brash, unflinching act. You say: this story matters, and it matters that I wrote it. It is a demonstration of your belief in the story and the belief you possess in yourself as a writer, storyteller, and a creator. It takes a rather epic set of genitals to write something that’s 300 pages long and then say to someone: “You’re going to sit down and you’re going to read this and you are going to love it the way I love it. You are going to take hours, even days out of your life to read the little ants dancing across the page, ants that make words, words that make this one big story full of people.

That said, I’ve been considering other options outside of traditional publishing. Chuck Wendig, as well as many authors and publishing experts have been touting hybrid publishing and embracing crowd sourced novels for a while. Forbes also laid out the pros and cons of hybrid publishing. Some even go so far as to call hybrid publishing the future of publishing. I’m still reading up as much as I can about it so I can decide whether to take this route. If anyone has any thoughts on this matter, I’d love to hear them!

Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s hoping for a less turbulent, more forgiving 2015.

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!

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!

Bring on 2014!

The quote above is from author Margaret Peterson Haddix’s German ski instructor, Horst, when she was learning how to ski. And it seems so simple but true. This shall be my mantra  for 2014. Now I just need to decide where I’m looking.

And how are we on the New Year’s goals front? I’m still working on mine. But the basic gist is smile more, write more, live more and worry less. The specifics I shall flesh out here and now.

GOALS FOR 2014 (this sounds so officious it will be a crime to not achieve these goals!):

1. Get a literary agent already. It’s been too many rejection letters – generic ones and kind ones – and near-misses. 

Despite the daunting odds (approximately 0.2% of aspiring writers actually score a literary agent and/or a publishing contract), it’s time to get someone interested in my stories already. To do so, I would need to

2. Write the best damn novel I have ever written, even if it means hours and days and months of tweaking and tinkering and obsessive perfecting of my manuscript. The process is not fun for someone who prefers jumping on an idea to working out the details. First drafts may be painful, but at least they’re exhilarating. Everything that comes after, i.e. editing, is torturous.

Still, I’m in too deep to pull out now. So with all or nothing, I’m going for all. Be it Blood Promise or Until Morning, I WILL get an agent on board for 2014. No more pining and wishing and envying; more doing and getting and having.

3. Be happy. An entire year has just passed, and more of them are just going to whiz by as quickly. Why mope? Why waste time and effort on being sad or angry with people and things that make us sad or angry?

For someone who cries when someone gets snappish with me, you can see why I’ve been struggling with this goal for ages. I can’t help it. People’s emotions rub off very easily on me (have I mentioned that I’m weird and sensitive?), and any negative mood from others can make my mood plummet faster than my colleagues can attack the packet of Tim Tams in the office.

So what I do now – and plan to keep doing – is think of a happy song, or a pretty face, whenever I feel my spirits start to flag.

 photo donghaesmile_zps9f50335a.gif 
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Besides, if you’re happy, people around you are happy. I swear, it works. 

Often, the ones we are closest to bear the brunt of our emotions because we’re so used to having them around and being showered with their love and concern that we take them for granted. So I shall smile more at my family, talk to them more often and always be patient with them so they’ll never doubt how much I love them.

(Okay, getting too maudlin for my liking. Moving on.)

4. Believe in myself more. I realise that sounds very vague, a resolution just begging to to be broken, so to be more specific, my first response to every bit of self-doubt would be 

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And no, this is not being narcissistic or egoistical. This is an attempt at confidence. You fake it to make it, as they say. And I say, hey whatever works. I am so done with putting myself down and worrying about not meeting people’s expectations and letting them down.

That applies to bad hair days, daunting writing tasks and everything else.

5. Set a proper schedule to learn Korean and French proper, instead of just visiting my notes and videos when I feel like it.

 photo joeyspeakingfrench_zps9c299d92.gif 

6. Finish No Room in Neverland and write the sequel to Blood Promise OR get started on Indigo Tides. Either way, COMPLETE ANOTHER NOVEL.

(On a side note, I learnt a new term today! Introducing the “newt”, also known as a New Weird Thing, according to Laini Taylor.

That is, a writing project that is usurping the place of another writing project. Also known as a “slutty new idea”. Newts are to be discouraged, despite their unfailing awesomeness.

Here’s hoping newts don’t come attacking in 2014! More COOL THRILLING IDEAS – cooties? Right. So more cooties, fewer newts. Although really, any idea is welcome. I’m not discriminating. Newts have the potential to turn into cooties, after all.*

*Taken out of context, the above paragraph can probably certify my sanity level.)

That’s all I can think of for now. It always seems a little pointless to plan too far ahead since you never know what can happen two months down the road. But for now, this is my road map for the year ahead.

I hope 2014 treats you well! :0)

less sulking, more smiling!

Something from Debbie Millman to start off this post:

If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.

And in that vein,


 photo mishaconfettiitsaparade_zps1d164544.gif

(Oh, Misha. How he manages to switch between himself and Castiel is beyond me.)

Plus, I’m going back to Blood Promise, and making the final edits before sending it out to the agents who professed interest in it before. Things to do and things to look forward to! No more wandering and wondering in Writer’s Block-ville.

Oh yes, merry Christmas, indeed.

I don’t know about you, but for the first time in my life, I’m feeling … excited for the coming year. New Year’s has always been kinda meh for me: they either meant another year of slogging it out at school, waiting for my life to start, or another year where I had no idea where I’m headed.

This is an excerpt from my New Year’s Eve post in 2007:

I’m so fucking sick of caring.
468 calories from 3 scoops of ice-cream, 525 calories from a lunch of bread and scones, 486 calories from a breakfast of pizza?
Fuck it all. Fuck calories, dress sizes, flat tummies, skinny thighs, sharp noses. Outgoing, athletic, bronzed and confidently cool? That’s something I never will be. I’ll always be ugly, stumpy and miserable: a pinched-faced girl with an over-the-top obsession with calories, fats and her appearance.
It’s okay. I know I’m pathetic. I think I’m pathetic. To the extent that I think I hate myself. 
How is it that some girls can stand in front of the mirror, look at their bodies and shrug at their love handles, the pudge at their tummies, and their thighs glued to each other? Why can’t I? In what way am I lesser than them? In that they love themselves more than I appreciate myself?
It’ll be 2008 in about half an hour’s time. I don’t see what’s so great about it. It seems like I’m entering 2008 just as clueless as I have been in 2007.

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Oh yeah, I was a bright ray of sunshine back then. Must be all the food I was not eating that made me such a miserable, pinch-faced bitch.

But this time, it feels different. Like I have every power to change whatever I’m not satisfied with in my life, instead of sit on my ass and wait for life to happen to me. It’s an entire year of changes waiting to be made! And it’s not just because I’m off what I call the “starvation diet” now (which is the stupidest thing I have ever done – DO NOT do that to yourself ever).

Maybe it’s because we get more bigger picture-y as we grow older and stop zeroing in on the smaller stuff. When we were younger, in our teens, every bit of emotion and experience is heightened, and what people say to us or think of us becomes blown out of proportion. We place too much stock in these things, and when things go awry or fall short of our expectations we are slayed. It’s the end of the world for us, and we rant and weep about it, write emo poetry in the middle of the night, thinking we’ll never be happy again.

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Now, though, it just seems so stupid to fret over the things that don’t matter in the long run. A bite of French fry isn’t going to make me a whale (although more bites might), a bad day will be better after some sleep and a long swim, one piece of criticism doesn’t mean that the entire world hates me.

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I think you can only be as happy as you choose to. I was miserable then because I gave myself the excuse to. It’s because I’m not eating that I’m so cranky. It’s because I need to be in control that I’m not eating. (Which is ironic because I ended up spiralling even more out of control as a result.) Maybe the best we can do is be happy for ourselves, so that we can be happy for the people who matter the most to us.

We’re still one week away from year’s end, but I’m tacking this on my list of New Year’s goals (goals because the word resolutions is just begging for you to fall off the wagon right off the bat). What are your New Year’s goals? :0)

on fresh slates and pretty horses

It feels like forever since I last spent a day with my dad. Ever since he got transferred over to Westgate Mall, we’ve been seeing less of each other, and most of our conversations take place over the phone or via Whatsapp.

But he finally had Sunday off, and we were determined to make good of the day! We’d originally intended to catch The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, but because of a couple errands to run we decided to just chill and not rush to the theatre. There’ll be plenty of time to watch it.

Instead, we had a long, lazy brunch, after which we took yet another selfie in the same lift. Ha, call us creatures of habit.

Yes, it’s a horribly grainy photo, because I was trying to press the shutter before more brunch-goers could enter the lift and wonder what the hell these two vainpots are doing.

Later, we went shopping for 2014 calendars and stationery at Bras Basah’s Popular bookstore. Simple pleasures :0)

There’s something about shopping for calendars – it sort of symbolises the expectations we have for the coming year, like by getting something to organise ourselves for the coming year we can make it our best year yet.

And since 2014 is the Chinese year of the horse, my Chinese zodiac (plus, I just can’t get enough of horses – so powerful yet graceful, how can you NOT love them?), I’m having high hopes for 2014. I know, I know, I shouldn’t build up my expectations and wait for things to happen but go and make them happen instead blah blah blah, but sometimes you just want to believe that the next year will treat you good, that you’re in safe hands no matter what you do.

Then we cruised around Chinatown (another perk of spending the day with my dad, I finally got to drive again! How I’ve missed driving!), where the decorations for Chinese New Year were halfway up. I didn’t manage to take photos because I was driving, but it was all golden horses galloping down the entire stretch of Chinatown, cresting and dipping, while gold coins are strung across the street from lamppost to lamppost. The coins looked a little messy, but the horses were pretty.

Ooh, pretty horses! Now I need to look for images of those on Pinterest.

by Marcia Baldwin

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Carousel horses! Something so magical about them, don’t you think? That may be why so many of my stories take place in an amusement part, and the important scenes take place at or around the carousel.

Anyway. I’m actually more excited for Chinese New Year than Christmas. Probably because Christmas means the year is coming to a close, while Chinese New Year, which marks the beginning of spring, is the start of All Things New.

I’m a sucker for new things. It’s why I love dawn, and – weirdly – Mondays, and the New Year, the writing the first chapter of a novel, more than dusk, Sunday evenings, and Christmas and writing The End. There’s just something about the start of a new day, a new week, a new year, that is so … invigorating. Like it’s brimming with so much potential, so much room for something wonderful  and serendipitous to happen.

If you ever do wake up at dawn, when first light is just beginning to pervade the sky, smell the air. Smell it. Then look up at the sky.

Don’t you feel happier already? Instant mood-lifter, and all you have to do is wake up early! (Okay, now I sound like one of those annoying morning larks.)

So yeah, Christmas what? I’m all about Chinese New Year. New beginnings, fresh slates! Always welcome.

Which do YOU prefer?


An update on the “too many books, too little time” situation: I charged down to Kinokuniya last Friday on my lunch break and bought Fangirl and Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.

Such adorable covers! How could I resist?! I’m getting excited thinking about reading them already. Whee!

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Yup, Jeremy Renner conveys it pretty well.

In fact, so infatuated with the pretty pastel-y covers was I that I did this:

Because we all need some colour in our lives.