Is it too early for a year-in-review post?

So I deadass left this blog languishing for a whole year. *slow claps for self*

What can I say, 2020 has been a whirlwind of a year, with so many new experiences and encounters and invaluable lessons learned along the way. People came and left, connections sparked and died, and some old ones reignited. So many changes, so many emotions – they all came at breakneck speed, and sometimes I barely had time to take a moment to just sit and think (or maybe I did too much of that in the wrong way – I’m learning to catch myself when I start to overthink these days), or just take a breather.

Aside from the global catastrophes that I’m sure no one wants to be reminded of yet again (we’re still living our way through it, after all), on the personal front, 2020 came with extremities of laughter and tears, and I’m truly thankful for everything, the good and the bad.

This year, I experienced immense joy, little moments of sublime happiness that seem surreal now when I look back on them. Despite the physical lockdowns and restrictions, my soul had tasted a bit of freedom. This was the year I let go and let myself live – albeit just a little – instead of sticking to my usual austere routine. I opened up to people, much more than I ever allowed myself to, and strayed out of my comfort zone, my safe little bubble of one.

This year, I was also forced to look my insecurities in the figurative eye and contend with old wounds that I had left buried for so long I thought they no longer existed. (News flash: your subconscious doesn’t forget. Anything that is not worked through will come back to bite you in the ass twice as hard.)

This year, corny as it might sound, I learned a huge lesson in self-love. The importance of it. Why we need to be our own best friend, cheerleader, and even lover. How I want to be loved. How my soul needs to be cared for. How to listen to my own needs instead of constantly taking on other people’s problems and making sure they’re happy and appeased. How to set boundaries and not accept less than what I deserve. It really does all begin with the self. Only when we mend what is broken within us will we be able to love others the way they need to be loved. Only when we give ourselves the love and joy we seek can we in turn pour that love and joy into others, instead of expecting them to fill us up. Only when we know what we want will we not settle for less. (That’s a mouthful of alliteration, I apologise.)

I can’t say that I’m a hundred percent satisfied with all my decisions this year. There are many things I wish I had handled differently, better, with more grace and understanding. Being more honest and communicative about my thoughts/needs is also something I continue to struggle with, because of my inherent people-pleasing nature and knee-jerk response to brush off everything and act like they don’t affect me one bit. But I guess we all just have to live with the choices we made, the things we said or did.

Perhaps the key is to just keep moving forward. We already know what happened in the past and there’s nothing we can do to change it, so only the future holds the answer. And the only way to know what happens next is to live from this moment to the next, and the next after that.

I’ve been doing much better at living in the present these days. For the better part of the year, I’d been gripped by relentless anxiety and the desperate need for control, for things to turn out the way I want them to, not realising that nothing is ever in my control, and that there’s no point in trying to direct the course. These days, I’m water, steadily moving forward. Tackling the to-do list, getting started on new projects, hopping back on track with the goals and plans, focusing on the things within my control and tuning out the rest (or trying my best to).

That means more writing, less worrying. Doing more of the things that light up my soul and stressing less over external things/people/issues. It means retreating to my cave and working quietly while staying open to new experiences/people/opportunities that come knocking. It means not getting attached to any particular outcome, and letting both my head and my heart lead me forward, instead of getting carried away by either. It means listening to my intuition and seeing the red flags for what they are, but also keeping on the rose-tinted glasses that help me move through the world with a healthy dose of optimism and good faith. It means less talk, more action. Less expectation, more persistence and discipline.

It means sticking to the game plan in 2021. Rolling up the sleeves and getting back to work. Manifesting. Staying hopeful, excited, and grateful.

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone who’s played a part in shaping 2020 for me. 2021. I’m ready for you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

PS. My new website is finally up! Have a peep and watch that space for more updates!

Drama Review: Revolutionary Love

Bear with me, folks. I need to rave about this drama.

revolutionary love poster.png

Revolutionary Love (2017) is the story of a pampered good-for-nothing third-generation heir, Byun Hyuk* (played by Choi Siwon) who is cut off from his family after causing too much trouble (mostly through misunderstandings) and has to — gasp — work for a living. Through a nifty twist of Fate, he meets Baek Joon (Kang Sora), a girl trying to make ends meet with part-time jobs. As their worlds collide and he falls head over heels in love with her, he grows out of his sheltered, privileged existence to take charge of his life.

*The name Byun Hyuk means “revolution” in Korean, thus the title Revolutionary Love.

It sounds like a recycled plot, but there’s a lot to appreciate about this rendition that makes it seem completely original and addictive. Nine episodes in and I AM CRAZY IN LOVE WITH THIS SHOW.

revolutionary love siwon.gif

Hot male lead notwithstanding (Choi Siwon, you are such a bias wrecker. Stop being so beautiful. No – stop smiling like that. GO AWAY), this seemingly lighthearted rom-com actually has:

  1. Great main characters with complex backstoriesrevolutionary love 3
  2. A lovable cast of supporting characters
  3. Intricately woven plot and character entanglements
    Fateful meetings! Power play! Betrayals! Double agents!
  4. Intense conflict and a plot that unfurls at breakneck speed
  5. Uproarious moments that make you cry with laughter
  6. WTH dialogue that also make you snort with laughterrevolutionary love siwon 2
  7. Heartbreaking moments when you hurt together with the charactersrevolutionary love 14.gif
  8. Detestable villains
    So you don’t feel bad for seeing them ruined.
  9. Character transformation, i.e. well drawn-out character arcs
  10. Did I mention that Siwon also does FANTASTIC expressions?
    This goofball may have topped the list for the Most Handsome Faces of Kpop, but he’s not also called the king of derp for no reason:
  11. siwon whutsiwon derp 6siwon derp 3siwon derp 2siwon derp 8siwon whateversiwon derp 5siwon derp 1Still, he can turn on the charm when he wants to:
    revolutionary love 6revolutionary love 7

    revolutionary love 8

    His confessions (yes, repeated) get me all tingly!

     

  12. Fluffy moments and great chemistry between the leads
    revolutionary love 5revolutionary love 1revolutionary love 4
  13. And last but not least, a pretty, infectious soundtrack that puts you in a soppy, giddily happy mood


BRB, off to drama-land!

siwon fangirling spazzing

siwon excited 2

 

when existential angst seizes you on a Thursday night

WAIT.

It’s been more than A MONTH since I wrote my last blog post? Not just, I don’t know, two weeks?? Where did all that time go???

I honestly thought it’s only been at most three weeks since I last blogged. The past month, like all those before it, flew by with deadlines and events and the mad rush at work to clear my Inbox (when will I ever have zero unread mail?) and check things off the never-ending to-do list.

Every time I realise how quickly time has passed and how completely oblivious I have been about that, this suffocating sadness settles over me.

And along with it comes even more panic.

On top of worrying whether I’ve replied all the urgent emails and cleared everything flagged as top priority on my to-do list and accounted to all the relevant people, I also worry about all the time I’m wasting NOT doing the things I love or actually care about.

Sometimes, I don’t know if this anxiety and sadness (I won’t call it depression because it would discount what true depression sufferers are going through) is normal, if everyone my age feels the same way, as though we’re juggling multiple things in our lives and may lose our grasp on any one of them any second, or if things will get better as soon as I make the bold leap out of my current circumstance.

What if I’m just leaping into another big mistake?

What if this is as good as it gets, and I just need to grit my teeth and get through it?

What about all the other unexplored possibilities out there?

What am I giving up by staying in my comfort zone?

What if I sacrifice safety by venturing out?

Is there any guarantee at all for anything??

Okay, that just got way too heavy for the night. I’m not here to mope and moan again. This was supposed to be a quick update on the WIP, the short story blog, and other (frankly, nonexistent) life updates. I just got triggered by the time that has lapsed since my last post.

I’ll leave the trend-of-thought rambling for sessions with my therapist. For now, there’s always Rilke and his sagely advice

Okay, updates.

  1. On Neverland

On the writing front, I’m still working my way through draft six of NO ROOM IN NEVERLAND. It’s slow-going, especially for Act II, and I understand why some of the agents I queried pointed out the saggy middle. Because the middle IS saggy. I got bored reading it, which means my readers will too.

The question, now, is how to create more tension in Act II and keep the story plodding along. And I can’t move on until this is resolved. Hence, a brief stalemate.

2. On the short story blog

The four of us have decided to take down the pace a notch over at our short story blog. I explained it in this post, but basically we felt that one short story a month, on top of other posts every week, was too hectic given our respective commitments with our day jobs, family, our own WIPs, and everything else.

So instead of a weekly short story, we’ll be posting one fortnightly. Better a short story that we’ve spent time and effort on than one that we churn out for the sake of meeting deadlines, right?

3. On life

Well, what more is there to say? I’ve been cooped up in a bubble, ricocheting between work and writing, work and writing.

Thank goodness for steadfast friends who keep me sane and are unfailingly patient, ceaselessly encouraging, and immensely kind. (And you, dear reader, for being forgiving of my liberal use of adverbs).

A friend of mine said that we, as writers, need to feed our soul in order to create stories that in turn feed others’ souls. That we shouldn’t see the time we spend not writing as wasted, but as nourishment for when we do sit down and write.

Another friend told me that we shouldn’t see life as a race to the destination. Even if we have a goal in mind, the journey itself is worth paying attention to, and we need to live in every single moment that takes us to our destination eventually, even if that means watching YouTube videos or taking a day off just to roam around the city.

(Seriously, how are my friends so wise and in the know?!)

It reminded me of a quote from one of my favourite YA authors, Sarah Dessen:

sarah dessen the truth about forever.jpg

And of course, that Rilke quote about living the questions now so that we might one day, finally, live into the answer is a timeless source of comfort.

Looking back on 2016, I was sooo hung up on not having completed a manuscript. I kept feeling like I had wasted an entire year. And I put so much pressure on myself because I told myself I have big plans for my life and can’t afford to slacken.

But if I hadn’t spent my time reading those books, watching those dramas, pursuing those ideas, attending orchestra concerts on weekends, going through the necessary angst, or giving myself the time and space to do things outside of writing (i.e. living), I wouldn’t have come up with two new novel plots that get my heart racing and my fingers itching to write every time I think about them.

Sometimes, I think my gaze is so fixed on the finish line that my view becomes entirely blinkered and I ignore everything else around me. Still working on that.

I guess what I’m trying to say, after all this rambling is, I will learn to trust in the journey. I hope you will too, dear reader, and I hope you’ll find your forever in the moments you’re living right now.

steve jobs connect the dots.png