I had started writing the outline for Purple Python, the third book to the installment of the Hourglass Series. It will be from Jessica point of view, she is half Vietnamese, half American.
As part of my research into the horrors of the Vietnam war, I had watched Miss Saigon at West End in London. I had downloaded a book called Unwanted – A memoir of childhood by a Amerasian survivor of the Vietnam war. His chilling depictions of the final days before the last planes leaving Vietnam had lead me to shake my mind off it and write this post. My hair stood on ends when he wrote about how the last planes left the US embassy without his family in Vietnam when they lost the battle to the communist.
On hindsight, I am very very fortunate not to experience any horrors of war in my lifetime. My ancestors had made a good decision to depart China during the civil war and migrate to Nanyang and resettle to new unknown lands. They contributed to the community by teaching, volunteering at the clan association and resettling other families. They made contributions to the society at large by imparting Confucius ideology for a civil upright society.
Now, my generation enjoys global mobility and interconnection with the world due to technological advancement in communications and accessibility. I had the privilege to study in Australia and attain fluency in English as my native language. It was only in Australia I discovered about Vietnamese refugees and how they were referred to as “boat people” and how they risked their lives to go on boats to seek refuge in Australia. I was so insulated and I had no awareness that this existed till I traveled and was exposed to the world at large.
I am now using Alan Watt’s “90 Day Novel” as my guide to write Purple Python as it has worked so for my first two books. It examines through the process of inquiry to building worlds and characters. A sentence that really hits me now is that, “the story lives fully within yourself.” I had never believed in that, I had thought that the story is constructed outside myself. But now, I had discovered this sentence is true. The whole universe of the Scarlet Queen and Hourglass Series is existing within myself and through a process of rigorous inquiry, that it would be materialized in this world.
I am now on Day 5 out of Day 90. I will be on a cruise for a year end vacation with my family and friends in a large group including my grandparents. On the four day cruise with no internet connection, I will continue to be engaged in the inquiry as it says to “write daily and not stop”.
I had made changes to my diet depending on my productivity for the day. I would notice my food intake when I feel tired, and when I just switch off and can’t think anymore. I have added bananas as my breakfast and seen that it prevents after lunch sugar crash. I would notice how my sleep is disrupted by the effects of caffeine if I had too many cups by the results of my Mi Band. The moment I feel tired about (5 -6pm) I would get up from my chair and go for brisk walking, do a dance workout and get moving.
My conclusion is that our energy and productivity levels are influenced by what we eat. After having a rich yummy dessert with friends on Saturday, I crashed from the overload of sugar and was unable to exercise but sleep it off. I am on a no sugar diet, and any sudden intake of sugar = crash. Most food don’t look appetizing to me after switching to this diet. I no longer have cravings for ice cream or chocolate. I find desserts too sweet, and when it tastes too sweet it gets disgusting and yucky.
My constant craving right now is for coffee. I guess I can’t kick the caffeine habit after living in Melbourne. Melbourne was the cafe capital of the world and the coffee, even those at secluded alleys with no advertisements but a coffee machine – they tasted heavenly. The best coffee in Melbourne was a sandwich shop owned by an Egyptian near Little Collins Street. He had no signboards for his coffee but he sells hundreds of cups a day. I had noticed more people buy his coffee than his sandwiches for a strange reason. There was always someone queueing at the sandwich counter while he brewed a coffee. I had tried every coffee on that street and I made the jump for his. He revealed to me the secret of his coffee is in the beans, his beans are a special blend. He asked if I would like to buy his sandwich shop or recommend a buyer so he could retire.
The randomness of this experience opened me up to a whole new world of hidden coffee culture. I got myself a coffee Michelin equivalent guide to Melbourne and hunted down the top 10 cuppas in the city. I self-declared after that I am a coffee connoisseur after completing the guide and having my own rankings and recommendations for others. In my travels, I am the on the hunt for a good cup of coffee. With the exception of China, where tea reigns supreme and dragon well tea is undoubtedly the finest green tea in the world – I am a caffeine addict.
As much as I had tried to kick the caffeine out of my life, it crawls back to my memories. My grandmother would make a tin pot of coffee using a sock as a filter as she poured the concoction from one flask to another. She would do this every morning before we woke up. My cousin and I drank coffee as kids. Everyone in the household was served coffee from the sock. The bitter coffee beans were from Malaysia and it the coffee was creamy with hints of roasted butter, condensed milk that gave a texture of sweetness and a strong aftertaste of milk. Drinking coffee reminds me of my nostalgic memories of my grandmother, who loved coffee and never drank water.
There is one essential skill I am lacking in my life – control. In a dance, it is all about control of body movements. How good a dancer can be depends on how good he is able to control his motions. In my work, I engage in losing control more than being in control. I lose control to perform in my videos. I lose control to write pages after pages. To me, performance has been about losing control.
But from today onwards, no more.
I had re-defined performance as an act of control. The control of my voice, my movements and my mind. The control over each and every aspect of my work. It has been an insane quantum jump in my usual filming of 5 videos to 16 videos the last session. I intend to bring it to the next level.
I had been working on writing The Prince to completion. I am pleased to say it is almost complete at Part 9. The preliminary drafts are available on my blog, but the final version is elaborately detailed. Researching on monarchs and watching The Crown last night has been inspired me to complete The Prince in a fantasy meets science fiction setting. I can’t wait to release my collection of poetry and short stories on Amazon soon. Stay tuned for the news.
Online communication is an illusion that we know someone, but actually, what we are interacting with is between two screens and it is hardly real. I have to admit my productivity went skyward the moment I started to call, meet and get to know what’s happening on the ground. Things are done at a fraction of the time, and I got to know what is not working or what is working. And I had started to discover that the more acquaintances you have the more lonely you are, and the more close friends you have, the more secure you are. And lastly, closeness to family is what grounds us to who we are.
Tara Keogh is my editor, without her, the Hourglass Series would not be possible. Behind the scenes, Tara is my coach. This is an email I wrote to her after returning from China. As suspected by my reader
This is an email I wrote to her after returning from China. As suspected by my readers, my trip to China on a vacation was to double verify the scenes and themes are accurate as it is today as I last visited China about four or five years ago. Inflation has caught up, and things are not as affordable as they used to be before. A bowl of noodles is about 30 Yuan = US$4.5 in a cafe.
On my trip, I took domestic buses and trains on local routes that tourists would not take. As a result, I fell sick upon my return as the public transport system is not the most hygienic of places to be. I was mostly moody while on the train/buses as it is crowded and people spoke loudly to each other. There is hardly any personal space. There is no much of a consideration for others around them. It is a stark contrast to Japan where taking the train is quite an enjoyable peaceful activity.
Discovering the underbelly of Shanghai was an amazing journey, I completed the novel way one month before I wrote the ending. I just didn’t want the journey to end. It was like a nice train ride in the countryside that I did not want to get off. I finally wrote the ending and handed it to Tara. I used to be unable to complete my projects in the past, and left them hanging and incomplete. But now, I had learnt to let go of the result and just accept that the journey has ended for (me) and the journey for the reader begins.
I am back from Shanghai after a ten day trip spanning Suzhou and Hangzhou. I had uploaded lots of photos visiting places that I wrote in the Blue Orca for double verification and fact checking that these places and customs exists. It is all good. I am so excited for the launch.
In China, apparently a novel costs about 35 Yuan ($5.2 USD) in the bookstore. It seems that it is not a lucrative business for publishers or writers as the book printers and book stores make the most margin from what it looks. I doubt their copyright laws and royalties law justify the amount of work put into writing a book. It is truly out of love that people are writing novels in China. Still, it is my ambition to one day translate the copies of the Hourglass series for publication in China by working with an approved publisher in China. I will look into it once I have three books published.
I found an interesting cosmetic product called “Pearl Powder” while in Suzhou. Apparently the properties of Pearl crushed into powder makes for a good skin care. I am using the Pearl infused products now. Just some trivia to share. But to “high class tai tais” they would prefer western skin care products as it is seem as of a “superior grade” to those manufactured in China.
The underbelly of China’s economic success juxtaposed with the decline of America are the themes I explore in the Blue Orca. I would regard the Hourglass Series as my thesis on the reality of the world we live in today. Pre order now at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MD0K7VJ
“To be, or not to be– that is the question.” Shakespeare
The world we exist in relies heavily on relationships to make us who we are. Hence the identity of “who I am” is the sum of the characters of our life. Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.”
A misunderstanding starts when a brand new concept of being is introduced into someone’s world. Suddenly, they are challenged to become a new being to fit into a new status quo of what is “acceptable”. Some people embrace change, others, resist change.
My uncle resisted me studying overseas when he said, “don’t bring back your western ideas.” He has good intentions, but he believes that I should be a housewife as a full time career option. Although I had highlighted to him that it is not possible for modern day women to pursue that, he still firmly believes a woman’s place of happiness is at home and men should be providers.
I do look up to him as a Big Uncle and over the years, over many insistence to him that the lifestyle of staying at home to look after the family and not have a job for my generation of women due to the way society is structured is not an option. After much insistence on my part, he finally agreed that women can do both – work in a career and have a family life.
Hence by overcoming that conversation with my uncle over a period of a few years and few encounters, he now accepts that I am a business woman who also is able to have a family life. This has fundamentally shifted his way of looking at modern day women as probably, his previous conversations with my cousins and aunts had not worked either as he had aspired for us to be happy housewives with a great (interior) family life but all of us ended up working and having ambitious (exterior) goals in life. Now that I had shifted that we can do both (interior) family goals and (exterior) work goals, he now accepts that women do both.
Sometimes all it takes is a continuous stand before the relationship shifts from “unaccepted” to becoming “accepted”. An introduction of a new idea or concept causes an evolution of the mind itself to re-define and re-accept the new state of the way things are. The shift is not about “changing” but it is about “evolving”. Hence resistance sets in when there is an evolution happening.
Consider that your immediate relationships is the key to causing your own evolution and the moment that one stops to listen to other characters on stage, the play stops. There is no ACT 2. Life stops at ACT 1 and stagnates slowly till we die. The moment we start listening to others, life moves on to ACT 2, and it becomes a new state of who we are. Now, my uncle is proud of my business achievements and family achievements and shares with other members of the family they should aspire to have both. He has moved to ACT 2 of life and is now is receptive to my “western” ideas as well and that maybe me going overseas to study has allowed me to converse well with him in a way that he has reconciled that old and new world.
From my observations at the Thrillerfest, it is easy to determine who is a best selling author or mid tier author from the way the author speaks. It doesn’t matter what he or she wears or presents or talks about. It can be a joke, or trivia or some historical or news. It lies with the author’s voice. The way an author speaks is the difference between a good or great author.
Some authors had worked twenty years, forty years or some barely a year before they make it big. So, it is not the case of time spent on craft (10 000 rule does not apply in the world of writing). Neither it is about connections as all writers have to go through agents, who have to go through publishers and then the customers pick out the books from the shelves. There is a lead time from zero to all.
The probability of this game is determined by the market. Hence connections of a writer is not a factor. Neither is inherited background as writers have to create a brand name for themselves and cannot inherit another author’s name. A son of a famous author can write the same kind of books and publish in the same genre, but the market may not respond to it positively and the publisher can drop the son off due to poor book sales. If the earnings cannot sustain the author, the author will eventually quit the business to pursue another lucrative trade.
How the market accepts a writer is the same way on how a country accepts a politician. It has to be in the time frame of the world that they want this genre of writing. For example, the latest trend of best selling books now is adult colouring books which is available in every major bookstore. It is linked to people wanting to return to a time and place where they are children again and free of expression whereby they can create and draw expressively. Hence the trend now is books that allows people to be be free of expression (before the colouring trend was Fifty Shades of Grey).
The next trend is not predictable, only the writer can produce that creation he sees that the world needs. Hence the key lies in the writer’s voice as it is linked to the soul of the writer and his greatest authenticity. Sad to say, most great writers will never be acknowledged in their lifetimes like most great leaders. I loved the Great Gatsby and I was sad to hear the writer did not get that acknowledgement that he wrote the great American novel before he died. His voice was pure and it has resonated with me that I had to check out the Long Island mansions of his vision way past his time.
At the end of this post, I realised the detriment of quality of leaders and writers is due to the detriment of the market who do not support great works, neither they support great leaders of our time. We currently live in a civilised world lead by puppets who are trying to appease everyone, but they do not have a stand of frontier for humanity to reach to next. In my lifetime, I would like for the world to unite as one and end all wars and suffering. By doing this, we can finally travel to outer space and explore the universe beyond this world. This is my greatest dream and writing about this makes it possible for others to believe in this vision once again.
“The future now occurs in language.” Landmark Insights
I have created a clearing for the trip of my lifetime to get an agent for my book. It had ran/avoided this purpose due to an incident that was stopping me from crossing this threshold point. Now, I had been freed of this limitation.
In the future now, I am inventing the possibility of becoming a world renowned author. This is my invention since I had started on the Leadership Program. I will continue to get coaching for my lifetime. Learning is a never ending journey.
I have created a space during the past few weeks by delivering undelivered correspondence. This clearing has freed me up to a new realm of being authentic. The conversations amongst my family and friends has deepened in a profound way.
On a daily basis, I am moved to tears, or moved into action. I am living each day like my last, and in the process of which I am speeding up in my tasks and execution speed. More is done in a less period of time. My calendar is full. My daily life is well spent. Not a minute is lost or gained. It’s only the future now that exists and this is all it matters.
From my conversations with people, I can now identify what they are “avoiding”. In this sense, I am able to find the root of their suffering and ease them into releasing the pain. Sometimes all it takes to save a life is a phone call, or a message, “Hi, how are you?”. It could mean the difference between life and death.
Sometimes we are unaware of the power of language we have over others in their decisions in their lives. I am, myself responsible for the damages I had done on others in the past due to my inability to control my language by hurling hurtful words in the heat of anger. Now, I have more control to repair and mend those broken relationships by reconciling that it was unintentional and I still love them.
Last week, I mended a relationship with my girlfriend after we had an argument. For one year, we did not talk. I terribly missed her. I called to say, “I am sorry.” Our friendship is now back in existence. What is the price of that? It’s priceless to have a friend.
The access and tools we have to life is the generative power of language, in this sense, Landmark enables us to get to the root of the language and recreate the future now.
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)