I scrolled down through my email. Checking each and every one, including the promotion, social and even the spam folder just in case.
'Successful entries will be notified through email by the 19th of December 2016'
What a way to end the year, with a second rejection. Well third actually if you considered the fact that my first manuscript was rejected twice. I thought of sulking. Laying in bed and chanting positive mantras of:
'the writing life ain't supposed to b easy!'
'Remember how many rejections JK Rowling and Stephen King got? You're no way near there!'
'A lot of other things happened this year too remember? Don't let this one thing determine your 2016'
I sat up clutching Mr. Puff close to my chest. That's right. A lot of things did happen this year. Some expected, and some unexpected but they happened. Sure, I graduated, then got a job, did spoken word for the first time ever. But if anything, what would I really remember 2016 for?
When I think of it, that's not such a hard question. It would come to be known as the year I returned to writing.
My primary school friends would remember the days when they had to pay 20 cents to read stories I wrote. Sure they were cliche love stories (Someone Like You), and one Godzilla rip off i had immaturely called The Wormasapa. Even had my co-author Zara Airina (remember Twin Spies?).
I still wrote during my days in boarding school, but they were mainly poems. I submitted a piece every year (2005-2009) to the school magazine Teraju Puteri, but never anything else.
Somehow, somewhere after high school I lost touch with writing. My commitment to my purple Snoopy journal that I never failed to write in every night since standard 4 was also left abandoned. Sure there were occasional posts here, but they were never constant and came at bursts. Personally, I never pursued writing and allowed it to remain as a stagnant skill used only for my thoughts. Why? I myself can't remember. Perhaps I lost interest, or maybe just gave up on the idea of becoming a writer.
Short stories were left unfinished, whilst my novels never made it past chapter three. Poems were scribbled on tissues and receipts, never meant to last. I think it was in Japan that I wrote the least. This was interesting because this was when I had most of the time in the world. I had plenty of ideas though, but those ideas never made on to paper. Even when they did, they never made it to my computer for any submissions.
The idea of becoming a committed writer stayed as a dream. As long as I never acted upon it, I could never fail and it could remain a possibility. Because let's face it, it's scary. What if people hate my writing? Worst of all, what if i'm not as good as I thought I was?
'In the end we regret the chances we didn't take'
Till today I'm still not sure if it was a stroke of luck, or chance, or even fate that made Eddy think of me (I owe you BIG time buddy) when it came to Letters, considering how long we haven't spoken to each other. From there a whole new door of opportunities started to open, and I started to take writing seriously.
'You just need a little more kinetic energy ni, mesti boleh.'
For the first time in my life, I got connected to at least a 0.1% of the writing community (yes, this is representing you Hin) and I had a chance to take a closer look at what the writing life would be like. It astounded me that these people were my age, and yet they have done so much. Easy to say, it re-ignited a flame that had long faded in my heart. It got me to my feet, and with that the milestones I managed to reach. Not to mention the friends I have made (including my two all time favourite proof readers Afiq and Azim). This uncharted territory had plenty for me to discover.
This year, I completed my first draft of a full length novel, got rejected twice for it. Submitted three short story pieces, and already got rejected for one of them, waiting on the other two now. Co-wrote an article and got published in the November issue of Penang Monthly. Highlight of them all, would be having a piece in Letters To Home.
'Sometimes life can get in the way of our dreams and we forget them. That doesn't mean that they aren't still there somewhere waiting to be rediscovered again'
It takes a lot to chase a dream that only you can see. That's why when you come across people that see this dream too, and actually believe in what you can do then consider yourself lucky. I remembered when Choo Ki and Mabel sat with me to discuss my writings, on developing my skills, I was so happy. So happy and quite frankly found it hard to believe that these people actually have faith in my writing, because for so long now I thought it had only been me. And really, that was all I needed.
Maybe this is as far as I'll get. Who knows. Maybe i'll never get published again and this dream will be forgotten and left alone. There is still a long way to go, and I have barely even scratched the surface.
But if 2016 taught me anything;
It is that even if that happens; at least I know that there are those around me that will undoubtedly help me find my way back.
I just need to be brave enough to take the chance.
Isn't that right now Mr. Puff?
Happy 2017 everybody