Writing a novel is like doing a full exercise of every section of my brain with no muscles being left unused. My brain juices are squeezed dry and it’s fueled by caffeine at the moment. I am trying out a formula which is to switch a cup of coffee, followed by a cup of tea to keep going and not stop. I am at the 3 hour mark now and I had stopped. I had written the full flap copy and I have to admit the race I ran today is pretty hardcore and I have to learn how to hold back more and not push too hard or I won’t be able to do my next run tomorrow.
The office that I co-work in could be classified as a class A office building. I look really under dressed here as I do not have a need to meet anyone in a business suit, I am usually in jeans and shoes – how untypical. I got a really weird stare by this smartly dressed middle aged white man in the lift yesterday. He must be wondering how this hacker girl got into the office building. I felt he was staring at me like I was the girl with a dragon tattoo with piercings and a funky mohawk. But no! I was just in my yoga gym clothes. Erm, or maybe that is why?
I had been digesting so much books and research that my Goodreads is unable to keep up with it as my ereader is not usually connected to the internet at all times and I also do read books on my desktop and iPhone as well. That makes about three devices that I am continuously hooked up to. Boy, I do need more human contact or I will become autistic at the rate I am going. Thank god I am meeting a friend soon. Working alone has it’s disadvantage. Or maybe we are all truly alone and all else are distractions to our loneliness in this metropolis.
I had been speaking to the cleaner lady who screamed “hallelujah!” along the office corridor while she pushed her cleaning supplies cart. I learnt of her name, and like the secret agent I am, I also discovered the multiple office plans I could undertake to increase and maximise my desk usage at the lowest hourly rate possible by speaking in local slang to the receptionists and digging out more information on how much others are paying for their desks. I am such a spy in disguise! I wonder why am I not in undercover work, or maybe I AM an agent indeed!
This is my update for the day. I have to turn off my central agent database system now. My new victim is looking at my direction. Back to work.
The long nights are those nights I descend into my nightmares.
It’s a recurring scene that turns on repeat like a song on a loop.
The same sounds and sensations fill up up the darkened room
I am transported into the depths of the murky brown waters
I am descending lower and lower, deeper and deeper
I cannot feel my hands or legs nor my breathing
It seems to cease in this fleeting moment of time
As I descend into the ocean depths, pulled downwards by gravity
I jolt awake and I almost fall off the bed, like a child who woke up from a nightmare
I had fallen off the bed many times, or hit my limbs on the edges
I see bruises on parts of my body I did not know how they got there.
My pillow is soaked with tears that I did not have awareness of even crying
It has became so natural, that tears and pillow are what I sleep to and wake up to
On the long nights like this, it is hard to fall asleep.
The nightmares jolt me up every few hours.
I start to count the clock. 2am. 3am. 4am. 6am. 9am.
Are my usual waking up moments throughout the night. I sleep past the alarm and wake up at noon time, and my mornings are over.
I hate that when it happens, as my work becomes backlogged.
I am unable to accomplish half of my tasks for the day.
I try to sleep early the next day starting at 10pm. 12am. 2am. I wake up repeatedly
This loop repeats itself like a song that never ends.
This song sings a sad tune behind a blue jazz beat in a foreign language that no one seems to understand. This song wakes me up and calms me back to sleep. This is my soul song, of an unrequited masochistic pain of love.
I find it really really strange that the co-working office that I chose resembles fictional Wilmar Entreprises completely. I have to exchange my ID for a security pass to enter the sliding glass gate. After that, I have to tap my card on the electronic reader to go to the office floor. I am greeted by the 180 degree view of the skyline. Little rats are stuck in their cubicles in small cramped spaces. Fortunately, I have a corner desk to my own and no one is around my radius as the place I chose to set my laptop on is an open concept working area partitioned by a wooden screen. I can check in and out anytime, and stop my co working plan at a month notice. There is no commitment and if I see fit, I could fly to an island next month to write in solitude.
I am looking at my earlier half completed writing projects. I was simply mind blown at the things I wrote when I was so confused about my identity. OH GOSH. It’s very promising. I just have to rework them a little here and there, and I can’t believe I was so sick in the head. I had toned down over time, but oh boy the content of what I wrote in the past is much more controversial than now. The pictures that I pasted into the writing templates are no different from what I still do look at today. There is lots of pictures with rope and women. The rest is your imagination…
After much contemplation, I had decided to rework my old short stories and poetry and publish them over the next few months in ebook formats. I want to immortalise them forever. But they are in need of serious editing as I wrote them when I was in my teenage years. The rawness of the words makes me feel so connected to what I had lost over the years as I tried to “fit” into society to feel “belonged”. But no one person is the same as the other, and humans conform to protect themselves. I have to accept and reintegrate my uniqueness as part of me again, to be a better artist for the world.
My writing threshold is still at 2 hours mark per session. On the 2h 30min mark my brain is fried. I have drunk a full cup of latte and green tea. I am drinking an espresso now, but it isn’t helping yet. Outlining two novels is definitely mind consuming. I wish I could write more hours and feel energetic about it, but the drilling noises near where I stay is affecting my sleep and concentration. I have to sleep early, get out early, and exercise more consistently if I want to up my productivity.
I had changed my diet to high protein and lots of veggies. This is to keep my sugar level constant so I don’t crash. I hardly eat any white rice or noodles. I am almost sugar free. I learnt crucially yesterday that I have to stay away from pork or I may get stomach upset. I used to be able to eat anything, but after living in so many different countries, my stomach is much more sensitive.
I am breaking up 2 hours of writing time in two time slots. I will work later at night at home, when the drilling noises stop. Once I am finished with my outlines, I hope to write as fast as possible without making the same mistakes as I did with my first novel. I hope to dedicate solid four hours a day to my writing and nothing else.
Some of my crucial lessons from writing my first novel were:
Do not take a two year break of writing, just write the first draft quickly and revise it within the same year.
Outline all main and sub characters before starting to write, put out all their conflicts and roles in the story and their roles have to contribute to moving the storyline. Delete characters that serve no roles.
The settings has to be solidified and they should even have their own logo and trademark if possible. People should be able to instantly relate to the setting once you mention the name. Like “Hogwarts”.
Contemporary settings shortcut the world building process, but still the uniqueness of the setting has to be brought out by the writer from the character eyes. It has to be something others have no noticed despite years of living in that setting.
Human motivations are universal and not dependent on ethnicity or geographic location, anyone should be able to relate to the main characters for this reason.
I have to stay dedicated and think of the long term impact of my writings instead of short term monetary or recognition gains. When I watch the news, I see people acting out of pride and anger. The paris attacks are upsetting, as well as the terrorist acts around the world. I can hardly watch the news for this reason, it only fills me with such deep sadness at the state of the human condition that I lose my focus and motivation.
I hope one day, the human consciousness will evolve out of these emotions and go towards courage, willingness and love. That is my dream, a very idealistic one but I believe the world is full of abundance and we are fighting over nothing, but our own egoistic needs. There is much more noble causes out there to fight for, and when we start to focus on the bigger picture, our own pride disappears and a new sense of selflessness replaces the emotion of wanting. I feel that submission is the highest level of love, for when we submit ourselves to the greater good, it only magnifies and returns with unlimited abundance.
Looking at the stars and galaxy, being interconnected on the cloud, reading these text on cyberspace, we have already advanced so far, but the pride of those in power wants to keep us in this eternal servitude and bondage. But there is no bondage, it’s an illusion of the mind. What changes everything is our mindset in how we approach life. That we are free, and we have the power to change the future, instead of letting predetermined events happen to us. If the French Revolution could occur at the hands of the people, why can’t we change the world to make it a better place? These are endless possibilities.
As long we continue to dream, and let go of our internal bondage, we can be free.
The Red Hourglass hit 7000 downloads today on Amazon after 20 days of it’s release. I predict that there will be about 100 000 downloads in about six months. As of now, I am currently outlining the sequel. It’s called The Ocra, from Mimi POV. I am having fun with character boards and redrawing the universe. It seems that I am much more efficient compared to when I initially started out. What would take me weeks to outline, now takes me hours. It’s like my learning curve for the first book had short cut the process for my second book. I am able to bypass lots of mistakes that I previously made and know instinctively “what to do” now.
I also feel that I am much more expressive compared to before. I had learnt to let go over time and not really care what people think about me anymore. I used to hold back, but now I do it free flow. I write what I want, film when I feel like it. I don’t try to push or force myself too hard as I used to. I have to admit I used to be quite hardcore on myself, now I take lots of breaks. I exercise. I stretch and walk around. I set a timer to take a 17 minute break every 52 minutes, as according to latest research, the best productivity occurs in this time span.
I booked myself into a co-working space where I can drop in to write without interruptions. I used to do cafe hopping, but cafes are not consistently quiet. Some days it’s crowded. I need a quiet space, where it is guaranteed. I found a special spot at a very low cost that it’s unbelievable. They probably think I am a fresh grad etsy start up as most of the people in the co-working area are older men. I am so glad at this secret find that I am not going to reveal my new writing hideout :X
I am also outlining a series called “The Switch” in the contemporary romance genre. I usually work on multiple projects at one time, as being on one project drains me. I have to work on a few different tasks to feel energised. It goes with my reading habits. I read stimulanetous books at the same time, I flip from historical romance, to thrillers, to contemporary, to non fiction self help. It’s just the way my brain works in it’s dyslexic interconnected ways.
As for Butterfly, it is a very niche book in the femdom segment. I will probably just publish a novella first, and if the response is positive I would continue to work on it. I have so much notes on that book but I had been very very afraid to publish it over the years. I think female dominance is not a very common thing, and I just have crazy ideas on it that I can’t express elsewhere. But maybe it is the fantasy of many? Who knows!
After I am done outlining The Ocra, The Switch and Butterfly, I would be focus on my word count daily goals and hopefully I will be releasing two full length books and a novella a year if things goes well.
I will resume filming as Risque soon and do some audio recordings of her. I miss her too and I hope she returns back to screen on Youtube soon.
As a trained marketer, I spend many hours on research looking at graphs and statistics. It’s something I enjoy doing. My business majors were marketing and management. I dissect graphs and make decisions to improve results and ROI. To most people, this will be dull work. But it’s something that excites me. I love to see the numbers roll in, the live feedback of customers, the way they click on the website and conversion actions to become a buying decision. I love that technology allows me to see flow through behaviour on how a customer interacts with a website, what is the first action they do? Will they click on the link or leave a comment? What is the percentage rate of them doing so? Using these feedback I adjust my interactions with customers and tweak the buttons and links in a way that is more visually appealing for them to “click through”.
I am an experimental marketer, I try many different ways to get the highest ROI results. I run different campaigns in different formats. But most of my “experiments” fail. Once I hit a formula however, I stick with it. It works for some time, before I have to change it again because as it is with technology, the world is changing too fast for anyone to keep up. What may have worked yesterday, will not work today. Thus, monitoring results and adjusting campaigns are paramount to achieving desired results.
When I was in school, I was quite a force. Well disliked or well liked – I didn’t care. I just did projects within my parameters. I realised when I teamed up with someone who does detailed minute checks and is good at organizing, we will get a higher grade. I function best with an assistant or two. Thus my working style is such that I need people who do the detailed work such as verifying facts and getting research materials for my consolidation to write a strategic report. I think this mode of operation has not changed for me since graduating from university. Now, there are live reports on Google Analytics and Facebook Analytics, work is now done by algorithms.
I have a fear that if i fail in my ventures I may have to resort to finding a day job. I have admittedly, embarrassingly, not worked in a day job for someone else. I had received and rejected so many job and business offers to pursue my writing career. I know if I do fail, I may have to return to doing consulting or seeking employment. I had not used my degree to date. I don’t even have a resume! I had interviewed people but I never got interviewed. Such is a strange paradox to my career.
My best asset to any organisation would be to provide insightful feedback to improve their existing process and implement steps to increase conversion rates. This is what I had been doing for myself. I study the Amazon sales graph everyday now to see how my book downloads are doing. Although I am not charging a cent for it, I believe this free marketing tool is the most powerful advantage to my future book sales. I am targeting at 100 000 downloads for Red Hourglass within one year. With a conversion of 5% or 5000 people who would be interested in purchasing the sequel, that’s the ROI I am looking at. There is a rolling effect to this – the more downloads, the more conversions. It’s a marketer wet dream to have this outreach without the dependence on the big brother. We are looking at zero marketing budget here, it just builds and builds on it’s own on open platforms.
Could you imagine there are billions of people out there and the internet and mobile and ereader outreach is only increasing day by day? Such is the potential. But such is my fear – that I will fail. We can only try to put in our best effort and hope for the best return of results.
Some days I feel really happy and comfortable to be in this life. This one short life, that can be taken away any instant. Our bodies are so fragile, the elements are so strong. One wrong move, and we will be wiped away from the face of earth.
It’s a temporal transient life.
A short bittersweet life with a spectrum of passions.
A life worth and not worth living, depending on the day.
Sometimes the pain is so great that it almost feels like ecstasy.
I alternate between laughing or crying to sleep.
I censor my words so I can live one more day without the fear of being censored forever.
Am I truthful with my feelings? Yes. That I can say, at least at the very least, I know I had been honest in my journey without being a fake. I know that this is the authentic me, speaking, writing and breathing. This is my joy.
But my reality? It is a living nightmare.
I wished and I wanted it to be a beautiful life, but now. There is just bloodstains. When tears bleed, you know it’s not just sadness anymore.
As I pass through this transient life, like all other transient beings, I just want to leave the world a more beautiful place than when I was first here. This is my only task left in this life.
The Red Hourglass by Scarlet Risque is now ranked #962 Free in Kindle Store. Considering there are thousands of free books published daily, it is quite remarkable the book has climbed the ranks so quickly. This is probably based on 173 free ebooks downloaded on 08 Nov (Sunday). Maybe people read more books on Sunday compared to other days? I could only imagine that book downloads will soar towards holidays such as Christmas periods.
I am quite zen about my results, I don’t feel any attachment to the emotion of my book downloads. Some days are high, some days are lower. I am in a contented stage. I did my best work, in a limited time.
I am still under 30 years old and I had released my debut novel. I don’t have anymore things in my life that I feel are more difficult. I think publishing a book is harder than graduating from college or starting a successful business (which I both did but felt dissatisfied with my life).
I had to fight my inner demons on a daily basis while writing. I had eccentric mood swings leading up to publication. I had to shed my old beliefs to welcome my new mode of living by turning full time in my artistry. I had reached a state of zen.
Another way to describe this emotion is like having climbed Mount Everest. Okay, I climbed the highest mountain. I have no more urge to climb anymore mountains. I had done it. All I have to do now, is maintain my momentum and continue writing the sequels and spreading the message. I have the people around me to thank for (especially my editor, Tara Keogh), and my fans who continue to support my work, that makes this viable for me to continue pushing on this state of zen.
I started a few successful businesses while I was pursuing my business studies in school. I became a distributor of products at 18 years old when I could legally sign my first contract. I gave tuition on the side. Before I was 18, I was using my mum’s credit card to start an ebay account to buy and sell products. When I was 12, I had a virtual online shop on neopets were I sold potions for virtual currency and made a killing with my best friend. There are many different instances where I put my creativity and resourcefulness into play. I think there is no running away from this calling once you are connected to your higher purpose – mind – heart and soul.
The reason why I choose self publishing because I want to experiment with my creativity and have the freedom to do whatever I want without anyone else telling me what to do. Maybe I am controlling in that sense, but I have a strong work ethnic and I spend hours of research before I take any action to write a single line or film a video. It makes me feel good to see that people appreciate my products and services which are my unique offerings to the world. I was reading this diagram on self publishing and boy, it really resonated with me and inspired me to write this post on why I feel so strongly about my self publishing independent journey.
There are a few factors that lead to my current line of thought, one key reason why I chose this lonely difficult path is because I do not want any casualty. What do I mean by that? If I start any other business, and that business fails, I have to lay off staff. I dislike firing people, but when there are no more clients or the economy goes down, staff have to be laid off. But with writing, the only person I have to depend on is myself. I have to produce my targets on time, and I am the only casualty in this. This makes me feel more content at least I can control the outcome (by deciding to write more or rest).
How I work – I have a Google Calendar where I put my milestones for the day and checklists. I have a five year business plan for my writing which I enact on, and readjust my strategies. I reevaluate my actions yesterday, and re-correct my actions for today. If the past month actions produce no results, I will switch my direction and mode of operation by formulating a different strategy. I have to admit I fail most of the time (9/10 times). Only about less than 5% my plans produce results. Some days I feel like a total failure and defeated for this reason. I had regroup my friendship net and built up my core group of support network over time so that I won’t be thrown off the grid if the going gets too tough. As a entrepreneur sometimes you got to be ready to lose everything you have overnight, so you can operate without the fear of having everything taken away from you.
It’s like poker. You can’t win if you show your tells. You can’t win if you show your fear. You have to zen out and think rationally about each decision. Will you be able to make your opponent fold knowing you have the weaker hand? Will you be able to bluff? Will you be able to make him bet knowing you have the stronger hand? These are very mental decisions. These are the thought processes that goes on everyday for an entrepreneur. That’s why business people love poker and likewise. It’s not a game, but it’s a mental state. The game is not your opponent but yourself. You can never beat your opponent if you are not in the center of your own internal universe. That’s the greatest mistake people make – they think they can lie, bluff and be deceit about their actions. But no, your opponent will sense your fears and triple bet you and take away all your chips. Such is essence of mental game.
Sergei Polunin inspires me as he wanted this to be his last dance. But after he became extremely famous from this recording, he decided to continue dancing again. He is such a beautiful man with an angelic soul. I just want to know the stories behind all the tattoos on his skin. Amazing.
This story taught me despite all the pain one goes through in life, it’s all about knowing who you are and what you want. You can do anything or everything, you can break the rules. It’s for you to decide. Anyone can think of whatever opinions they want of you. But it doesn’t change who you are inside as a person. It’s all about finding your own path and instincts. By following your own instincts you become more in touch and in tune with who you are to reach your fullest potential as a human.
She is releasing a novel (Hourglass Series) yearly and weekly YouTube videos. She does experimental flash fiction on this blog, along with song, movies and character analysis using historical and literature references.
One Million Views on Scarlet Queen YouTube (2015)