Friday, July 30, 2010


As a writer, you can never comprehend how your readers hunger for your words, your sense of poetry, your plot and your bloody end. Until they tell you. They get angry at your carelessness because they have grown to love the worlds that you have created out of liveless and arbitrary words. And that knowledge will tear you apart.

Publishing a book, just like posting an entry in a blog, is not like reversing a boat (terlanjak perahu boleh ditarik, terlajak kata buruk padahnya). Words, words, words. How much bad feeling had been generated by the Internet just because you think you have the right to judge people of their morals? You can write them a private e-mail telling your grievances about her attitude, but not go public while the poor sap did not have a clue of what happened in your alternate universe. And a novel, you cannot just RECALL a novel, like you would a faulty product. And your reader has every right to critique your novel in public.

So before you send that manuscript for publication, make sure:

You get it right it the first time. Make sure everything is spelled correctly. Make sure the terms are used correctly. Make sure name of characters are spelled correctly and consistently. Make sure your SENTENCES MAKE SENSE.

The hurried pace is not because you are racing to reach a cursed deadline. Give urgency to the story because the story deserves it. Not because your 3 year old is wailing from the bedroom at 4 a.m. when he realized his mother is not with him and he wants milk! You can give all the excuses in the world but your reader spends money to get that measley novel of yours.

Do not depend on anybody to make your story good. You are the one who make it good. The whole process stops at you. Period. No glittering cover, no prejudiced review can make your terrible story better. You are solely and wholly responsible for your story.

The ending of the story is the one the hero deserves. You should not write a happy ending because you believe everything ends happily in your make-believe world while you try compensate for your ruined life. You should not write a sad, unredeemable, no-salvation ending just because you are bitter and broken.

So, here's another look at your sense of time.

Tamina: So, how much of the sands of time, um, sense of time do you need?
Dastan: To recall a novel? Each and every bit of them which has ever existed.


  1. Salam Puan Sri,

    You've written this entry so well and so eloquently that I wish I, myself, will be able to write as well as you do.

    This makes me realize of one thing: that I'm wearing 2 hats here. I am your number one fan for your Malay novels, but I'm still a humble student when I read your English writing.

    "The ending of the story is the one the hero deserves."

    I was sad when Tun Hassan Perwira was killed in a battle in Warisnya Kalbu. But then, when I thought twice, maybe that'd make him a more memorable hero, who fought bravely and courageously for a good cause.

  2. Dear Nana,

    You do not know how many grammar checks I did to post that entry. I have to get out my system.

    Tun Hassan Perwira - he clings like a burr.

  3. See, that crazy grammar mistake again - get it out of my system.