I ushered in the New Year in January with a small birthday celebration at work and a lunch treat by colleagues – very thankful for them. Not much else happened except for a short “rescue” weekend to Penang to collect my cousin’s two cats due to the fear of another lockdown. I spent that one-nighter eating Thai food with my mother and watching Seasons 1 and 2 of Sick Note (2018). By then it was pretty obvious that there would be no ‘balik kampung’ for Chinese New Year.
Bookwise, I read four poetry collections by Cecil Rajendra, two novels by Patricia Highsmith ‘Found in the Street’ and ‘Small g’, ‘The Mysterious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ by Roald Dahl. I also wrote a 500-word short story called “The Heirloom” for a competition.
Come Chinese New Year in February, I celebrated with extended family in KL. There were plenty of steamboats, shabu shabu, Korean food and home-cooked Chinese fare like steamed fish, chicken and scallop soup and ho see fatt choy, braised oysters with black moss. I stayed over at my cousin’s apartment, and really enjoyed that time with family and kin.
Back in my apartment, I also prepared care packs for some of the security guards downstairs, binged on Bling Empire (2021) in line with the CNY theme, visited Desa Park City for the first time ever and watched my baby niece’s dedication on Planetshakers Live. In my freelance job, there was plenty of screentime due to a persona brainstorming session and an online editorial training from Brazil.
Book and writing wise I attended two short writing courses: a pre-course course called Telling Yourself the Story by Alice Clark-Platts, and Writing the City’s Creating Compelling Characters course by Melissa de Villiers. Both were my creative writing teachers in Singapore, and so I really enjoyed learning from them again.
At home, I read five books: ‘Death on the Nile’ by Agatha Christie, ‘Fight Club’ by Chuck Palahniuk, ‘The Perks of Being A Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky, ’The Witches’ by Roald Dahl and ‘Desiring God’s Will’ by David G. Benner. It would seem that I am catching up on the Roald Dahl books I missed out on in my childhood. That month I also received manuscript edits from my publisher, and got to working on the first round of structural edits.
By March, Covid numbers were down and we were summoned back to the office. I was a busy busy bee, and work wise I was pretty tired juggling three jobs (cut down from four a couple of years ago). There were many campaigns and projects at work in preparation for Easter, virtual town halls and a post-mortem session. That month, I also tried two new things: British fish and chips at an SS15 restaurant called ‘Cor Blimey’ and learning to use Discord, as that is where my writing group now meets online.
In March therefore, I wrote only one short story “The Number Four” and read only one book, a very good one: ‘Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat’ by Anne Rice. I honestly feel that this may be the last of the Vampire Chronicles, only because she has tied up the story so well, providing a home, a strong leader and a “safe space” for all vampires to commune no matter where they are in the world. #LongLivePrinceLestat.
In April I continued on the vampire fascination by buying ‘Interview with the Vampire: Claudia’s Story’ by Ashley Marie Witter. It was on sale at RM10 from Big Bad Wolf Books on Shopee, so naturally I had to buy it despite not being a graphic novel reader. In other book news, I hosted a one-hour IG Live for World Book Day on 23 April and read lighter books like ‘Starter for Ten’ by David Nicholls and a Christian self-help entitled ‘Free to Lean’ by Jocelyn Green.
In April, I also officially passed on the baton of Secretary of the Malaysian Writers Society to a new person. Was very very relieved about that, as it involved trips to the bank and lots of document signing. April was CampNano, but I did not manage to meet my word count goals. Instead, I’d spent it on the second and third structural edits for my manuscript, as well as submitting short prose to four publishers (Ricepaper, Shooter Lit, ASEAN Lit and Fixi Novo’s Horror anthology). Fingers crossed for any of them!
At work, video recordings began for a new book in my day job, though thankfully the work is only transcription. I also had plenty of social time as some friends came back from abroad, so that included a toddler’s birthday party, a fine dining experience at GOODDAM and a BBQ dinner at a penthouse – woo! That month I also went back to the office gym right after I handed in my manuscript. To end my April, I binged on Home Before Dark (2020), an AppleTV+ series about a young journalist uncovering the secrets of a small town. Here’s praying for a quiet and more manageable May.