Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Test of Time: You Know You're Old When...

This is it! The tests you will notice once they begin and they will not stop. You know you're getting there when these start happening:

1. Your mother quotes a clever sentence that you said some months back to illustrate its relevance to the current crisis she is facing. (Go with the flow, Mom. See how the situation is like at that moment. Don't see too far into the future. You'll go crazy if you do that)

2. You are solving your parents' crises. (Not once, not twice)

3. The contestant representing your kind of music wins American Idol every year. (Logically, the demography of votes for music most likely to be accepted by people between 30-90 will be much more than the votes for contestants representing the music most likely to be accepted by people between 10-29. Go Lee! Starts singing 'Princess'.)

4.The rules your parents have for your younger siblings have changed a lot since your time. (What? An unchaperoned visit to the fiance's family home? What an outrage!)

5. You are excited that Martha Stewart is coming to town. (I want to know why I can't pour hot tea into a cold porcelain teapot. Really. It's been bugging me since I saw that episode)

This list will continue...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Teachers' Day: A Pre-Celebration Reflection

Have you ever, in your disillusionment, said to yourself - "They'll never going to take that away from me" ? Well, I've got news. Anything and everything that can be taken away from you, WILL be taken away from you. You just don't know when.

Anything and everything can be complex things and the simplest things - your job, your riches, your car, your house, your family, the ability to move your fingers, your senses. And being able to write about this simple topic doesn't mean that I have fully reconciled this basic fact in my life. I get angry, I get disatisfied, I get afraid, I get totally vulnerable. I can't reconcile the fact that things I perceive with my senses are just temporary. Even a thousand years is temporary. Let alone the time span of 31 working years. I just should have known better that the highest of highs I feel now and the lowest of lows are temporary.

The best thing to do now is not to take things for granted. Easier said than done. To do this, you have to be in this constant state of euphoria, breathing in, taking it all in, basking in every sensation you experience. What if the day gets really bad and you can't put head or tail of the pressing matter in perspective? You can't see what will matter in the next twenty years and you just think about this moment and you are confused.

I don't know. As I write this down, I realize that I have nothing to offer in the long run of things. These words you can't keep for too long. What I am trying to do now is to just go through day by day ALIVE in my heart and my soul as my body stays nourished with its worldly needs. I try to be grateful that my loved one returned late instead of not returning at all. I try to be grateful that I can still walk, talk and do what I am supposed to do eventhough I am not doing it perfectly. I am grateful that my breath still leaves a stain on the bathroom mirror.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Creative Writing Class (Module 5): Writing Fantasy

The club meeting clocked the attendance of 11 students (an all time high), and only 5 of the total are club members. But I wasn't prepared for the interest that these students showed.

For the first session, which is 'Creating Worlds', I collected some weird ideas - a planet where the inhabitants live to wage war, a planet made of chocolate, a planet of only carnivores, and two Pandora-like planets.

The second session is 'Creating the Hero'. The heroes live on the aforementioned planets, so there is a hero who is bent on waging war (a war commander with the ability to see the future). I commented that the hero is more suitable to be a villain. There is hero who is bent on finding more chocolate. (I couldn't bring myself to comment that the idea is a tad too childish). There's this idea of making the Pandora-like planet facing the threat of the Sparta-like planet.

"Creating the Nemesis' is the third session. There are more fantastical creatures being made. But I want to highlight the curses these students put on their heroes and nemesis. There are curses based on time frame, one curse that will be undone by true love,  and curse of death (aren't we all cursed that way).

None of the students are thinking about writing a story set in the dimensions of time and space on Earth. Maybe they think that this has been done to death.

Until we meet again.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Creative Writing Class: Announcement

I thought I just want to post this earliear as a reminder to both Journalism Club members and myself - next class will be on WRITING FANTASY NOVELS: LEGENDS, RULES OF MAGIC and CURSES.

Saya cuma mahu membuat pengumuman awal sebagai peringatan kepada ahli Kelab Kewartawanan dan diri saya sendiri - kelas minggu depan adalah mengenai MENULIS NOVEL FANTASI : LEGENDA, PERATURAN KUASA AJIAB dan SUMPAHAN.

Saya akan gunakan contoh-contoh dari Harry Potter dan Twilight untuk membuka ruang kuasa ajaib dan sumpahan yang baru. Jika ada yang pernah membaca/ menonton Howl's Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke lagi bagus.

I will use examples from Harry Potter and Twilight. Opinions from those who have read/ watched Howl's Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke are much welcomed.

Cabaran Menulis Novel Seni Bela Diri (Bahagian 2)

Saya rasa sudah tiba masanya saya tidak lagi bergantung kepada filem Merantau (2009) untuk membentuk pemikiran tentang topik ini. Saya akan mengupas cabaran-cabaran sebagai seorang PENULIS dan bukannya seorang pembikin filem untuk menghasilkan sebuah novel seni bela diri.

1) Cabaran memahami sejarah dan falsafah seni bela diri itu sendiri.

Terutamanya bagi seorang wanita, isteri, ibu dan guru bahasa yang sangat tidak berminat dengan aktiviti fizikal yang berdisiplin, seni bela diri itu asing. Mudahnya saya boleh mendapatkan buku-buku tentang seni bela diri dan membuat kajian dari teks-teks seni bela diri. Tetapi berapa banyakkah buku seperti ini yang dijual di pasaran? Sedangkan seni bela diri itu pada asasnya adalah seni turun-temurun yang dipindahkan dari satu generasi ke satu generasi dengan cara perwarisan mulut ke mulut dan juga perwarisan dari segi praktikal. Jika ada buku yang menggambarkan langkah-langkah seni bela diri, selebihnya seorang penulis perlu mengetahui asal-usul, tradisi, falsafah dan world view seni bela diri itu. Di manakan seseorang penulis boleh mendapatkan sumber dengan mudah? Atau sebenarnya tiada jalan mudah melainkan dari seorang penulis untuk mendaftar sebagai penuntut seni bela diri.

2) Cabaran mencipta satu watak wira yang hebat tetapi realistik.

Akhirnya akan tiba suatu masa wira seni bela diri bukan lagi Hang Tuah dan Hang Jebat atau Tun Fatimah. Wira seni bela diri akhirnya seorang manusia yang amat biasa, sama ada lelaki atau wanita. Dan apakah latarbelakangnya? Apakah motivasi perjuangannya? Apakah peranannya di dalam cerita ini? Adakah dia sentiasa perlu berada di dalam latar belakang silam di mana yang ditentang adalah penjajah dan lanun dan pensabotaj-pensabotaj politik? Adakah semestinya dia mesti berada dalam latarbelakang kontemporari menentang samseng, pendagang-pendagang manusia, pengedar-pengedar dadah? Atau berlatar belakangkan alam fantasi di mana semua orang boleh melambung terbang sambil menghunus senjata? Pilihan terakhir akan menjadikan seni bela diri itu bukan lagi asli kerana penulis boleh mengkhayalkan apa saja di dalam dunia fantasinya.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Creative Writing Class (4)

This week's tutorial had the attendance of 6 students (yay!). And it was a very important session because we were creating the heroes/ heroines (?) of our novels. Students fill up this A4 sheet of profile provided by yours truly and it was amazing that they were able to fill it up so quickly. These kids are truly in their element! And next came the presentation.

Automatically, most students find their GENRE and their PLOT once they fill up the sheet. A boy named Firdaus, 15, is going to write a fantasy-thriller. His novel's main character is bent on finding who murdered his father and he has the ability to have glimpses of the future. It is a great combination of motivation and ability, setting the story into a heady course.

And the ladies! Filzah (15), Aida & Linda (16), Shuhada and Zuriana (17), created characters unclear in their motivations except for Filzah's main character's search for her missing parents. The characters are more like they're on holiday in Korea or something. And these students realize that their genre will be domestic (romance, family, comedy)
All I can say is - what ever rocks your boat! I can't make everyone become sad and moody and hell-bent on finding redemption. And have I got photos!
Aida Farzana and her camera. It is Journalism Club anyway! Firdaus doing more scribbling.
Filzah presenting her hero profile. Linda watches.