OK October

The year is coming to an end and the jobs have started piling on. This I’m learning, is a trend in the freelancing world as businesses prepare for next year. I started my October with a spillover from a September hotel stay the night before in Equatorial Penang. The same day after checking out, I attended my grandfather’s 94th birthday dinner, which was excellent.

In the working world, I had so much on my plate. I got a freelance gig with Jetstar Asia, did an awards job for a client in Australia (which resulted in my sleeping pattern turned topsy-turvy), and visited Piktochart’s office in Bayan Baru to attend their lunchtime talk. I also decided to add to my own workload by embarking on a Coursera online course – ‘The Craft of Plot’ taught by Brando Skyhorse at Wesleyan University – which I’m really enjoying!

In other news, I attended a Chevening Scholarship talk, served twice in my church’s care group, attended the Wesley Methodist Church Camp in Batu Ferringhi and was blessed loads by their teaching. I enjoyed their session on church history and the Reformation, played plenty of games, and even had a night walk on the beach which ended in two of us witnessing a Taoist send-off of a deity into the sea, complete with chanting and fireworks.

October was a month of cooking loads at home, namely butternut squash soup and homemade butter waffles. I also did this crazy three-quarter-life crisis thing and bought two abstract paintings from a local artist called Alvin Koay. I loved the pieces so much that it was… love at first sight. It’s difficult to find abstract painters in Penang (or Malaysia or Asia – to my knowledge at least), so when I saw his paintings, I knew I had found gold!

‘Rezeki’, story by me and illustration by Joanne Loo

In the writing world, I read my story ‘Snake Bridge Temple’ at Penang’s Malaysian Writer’s Festival. There I sold a grand total of six books and was very pleased! The same story was also published in Kitaab’s The Best Asian Short Stories 2017 and launched at the Singapore Writer’s Festival. In Penang, we launched Nutmag Volume 2, where my story ‘Tropical Eton Mess’ is featured. Later in the month, I also had a Malay story called ‘Rezeki’ published in Cukaria, complete with illustration by Joanne Loo.

Elsewhere in the writing world, I wrote a new monster story called ‘Snakes’ and adapted it into Hokkien. Alas I did not submit it to the intended competition. This is the first time I’ve ever not submitted a work, and I think the reason is, the story was too close to heart and I didn’t feel ready to share it. In more positive news, the Penang writers made a trip down to KL to attend the finale of the Malaysian Writer’s Festival, and our highlight was attending Felicia Yap’s talk in fono about getting an international publishing deal.

In October, I read two really good books – ‘Live by Night’ by Dennis Lehane and ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn. For the former, I read the book so I could watch the movie. For the latter, I read the book after loving the movie loads. Next up on my reading list is ‘Sharp Objects’ by Gillian Flynn, and I hope to read three more books before the year is out, so that I can achieve the final number of “40” books read in 2017.

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