Giving

“If you think you’ve given other a lot but they are still unhappy with what you gave them, then you need to start thinking about whether you’ve given what they want/need.”
~dialogue from the Hong Kong TV drama, Between Love and Desire.

Does this resonate with any of you? It certainly does with me, especially in light of recent events.

I’ve put in oblique references to these events before in earlier blog posts but let me talk about them directly here to provide the context for how this quote relates to me on a personal level. But before I do that, let me start at the beginning, which is the collaborative epub venture started at the Citadel – my chosen virtual writer’s home, a site for writers and gamers (or most likely writer-gamers). It started some time towards the end of last year and we released the first issue of Excursions from the Citadel on 1 March this year. We are now working on issue 2 and I will exit this enterprise as a writer after the publication of issue 3.

Why am I exiting? The predominant reason is that I find myself a bad match to the enterprise which needs a writer that can produce a short story that’s ready for public eyes within a set time period of about 3 months. I am just not that type of writer. I talked about this before but what I’ve never made clear explicitly is that there is a secondary reason that has at least 20% weighting in terms of pushing me towards the decision of leaving the venture that I had helped to build from the ground up and invested substantially in both in terms of time and emotion. By the way, I know this to be true of the original circle of 3 who were the only contributing authors towards issue 1 of Excursions. And yet despite this common passion, periodic rows always erupt between me and a specific person out of my two collaborators. Both of us had exploded at the other, one each across the two issues respectively. Big and small disagreements and arguments have peppered all throughout our collaborations and it just made me absolutely exhausted. But this is not a rant post and I will stop here in terms of talking about contexts. Also, the good news is that despite this personal disagreement, I parted from the epub and this particular collaborator of mine in peace.

Now, onto the actual meat of this post. I’ve been reflecting on this rather nasty turn in the communication and relationship between me and this collaborator of mine (who I actually considered friend at one point). There were multiple contributing factors of course but I really feel that the crux of the matter lies in the opening quote. I think that each of us believe in some sense that we had done a lot for the other that was underappreciated (he specifically said this in one correspondence between us and I must say that I echoed this sentiment too and told him so in my own way later on). I would say that we are correct in thinking that we each had given a lot to the other in terms of support in our respective creative endeavours and tolerance of unintentional bad choice of wording etc. But what I now feel is that each and both of us should take the opening quote to heart as the lesson to be learnt out of our disagreement and parting. When we peel back all of our emotions and just examine cold hard facts, I think we will find that we have each compromised on the other’s behalf but what often happens is that we ‘forget’ this about the other’s efforts and sacrifices in the heat of our emotions and unconsciously revert back to demanding having what we each wanted fully. But this means that we each become stuck in our subjective realities and that’s not a way we can operate on a long term basis as collaborators. The opening quote gets me out of this unhealthy mindset and now I would share it with everyone.

Anyway, this is the end of my own reflection. What about yours? Care to share below?

Words hurt

Recently, I’ve had a first hand experience of how words hurt though of course I didn’t do anything so dramatic but I admit to not being on my best behaviour. It’s more or less over with me now but I still feel for the original author who wrote this. Secondly, during this incident that I’m referring now, me and the other person have been alternating between aggressor and victim and now I think that both of us should have read this post.

Moonlake’s Meta fiction (3)

The following three bits of meta fiction are written to tease out a set of two legendary places called Still and Limbo that I wrote up for one of the quests at the Citadel. And I don’t think I can sum up these two places better than the following tagline I wrote:

“Two forgotten places there be- Still and Limbo,
Still where Time is forever Still,
Limbo where Naught is ever Remembered.”

The Abbot cordially greeted the Lord who strode in regally clothed in fineries that would not look out of place in court but somehow had an unkempt look about him. He looked about to speak but then being lost on the choice of words, was irked and started fretting about. Seeing this, the Abbot smiled knowingly and calmly reassured him, “You have come to the right place. Fret not over it. But this is not the right time and place for the kind of talk we’ll be having, not yet. Let us retire to a more private place.”

The Lord seemed pacified by the words and followed the Abbot meekly into the Inner Sanctuary. He did not take note of anything but the white-robed figure drawing him onwards as they traversed through a long corridor. Otherwise, he might have noted and indeed given voice to the contempt in his servant’s eyes of the dilapidated state of the Abbey and its measly decorations.

In the Lord’s mind, the concept of time passage had fled entirely. All of a sudden, he found himself alone with the Abbot in a study.

“Now we can speak freely.” The Abbot looked at him with his keen eyes. “Now which are you, one who seeks a quiet place for a contemplation, or one who seeks contemplation indefinitely?” An amused smile came onto his lips when he said the latter.

The Lord was confused. “What difference does it make?”

“None and a great deal.” The Abbot smiled enigmatically. Then an otherworldly gleam came onto his eyes. He recited the following verse in a grave tone:

“Two ever that seek Still while One only craves for Limbo,

The Two urgently need Contemplation and the One yearns for not Remembering.

One of the Two pursue falsely for the Hope of Longevity,

Yonder the Lust for Limbo is ever Pure.

Be it the Two or the One, seek Still or Limbo need not be.

Still and Limbo calls its like, whether or not Like beware.”


A series of images flashed past in Garmon’s mind. Garmon knew not from whence they came for he had never seen or even heard of the ritual depicted. For all that those images rippled and undulated and everything seemed to be shrouded under shadows, Garmon knew instinctively that what was shown was a ritual to achieve one purpose. A purpose that fitted with his need, at least for now. Without further contemplation (which was somewhat strange if he reflected upon the instance later, he had always been a cautious man), he started performing the first step of the ritual that would start a process that there could be undone once started…

When he came to again, he found himself in a place that contained no sound nor any odours. Neither was there any sight to behold. Everything here was of a murky colour- it looked like grey at first but upon closer observation, it contained a little of every possible shade he had ever seen and more. When combined together, the murky colour gave off an impression of desolation, comfortable desolation. Just then, Garmon felt something… a concept evaporating from his memories like wisps of smoke that faded to nothingness. But he shrugged it off as it was not important. What was important to him now was the contemplation of this place that he was in now. It was a misty place. No, that’s not right. It was a shrouded place, for sure, but not by mist. Even the lightest mist had weight but this place was shrouded by something… impossible to cipher but definitely weightless. When he reached out his hand to touch it, he felt nothing as if it did not exist at all. But Garmon knew it was there. Just as he knew that this place, this realm he had just entered was a forgotten place, a thoroughly and completely forgotten place, a place that does not exist in his world nor any others. It is a place where you get to forget everything, even yourself, pure bliss for someone who wants to forget, wants to forget everything, wants dearly and most of all to forget himself.Just the place for him.


Iblinikalis, Master of the Ebony Tower, Loremaster of the Uncharted Realms, Paramount Explorer of Arcana Extraordinaire, looked into the scrying orb in front of him. He was looking on the landscapes of a realm lying outside of the physical world (an arcane realm by definition) that he was thinking of claiming fief rights to as First Discoverer. Actually, looking on would not be the correct words for the experience. For Iblinikalis had perfected the art of scrying. Not only could he determine at will what sights to see of a location, he could actually experience of the location as if he had truly visited it.

This arcane realm he had just recently discovered was a strange place. It was not bizarre with a totally different of basic laws governing over its functioning like some of the others that he was Lord of. No, in that aspect, it operated much as the realms of the physical world. Its physical landscape was also ordinary- it had mountain ranges, rivers and streams, flat land covered with vegetation and all other types of terrains that could be found on Taineer, his own home Realm. And yet there was something odd about it. No wind stirred the plant lives, they lay dormant on the ground like creatures that had been hibernating for eons. The streams and waters did not flow, their waters lying stock still like those of a lifeless lake. Yet, there were no unpleasant odours as one might expect from a place without any exposure to the winds. No, in fact, the air was filled with a light crispness of a morning in early winter. It was just that there was a complete absence of any movement- and therefore any sound, at all in this place. It was a place that was still and idling. It was a place that seemed entirely frozen in time.

Moonlake’s Lyrics (23)

I recently heard this song on a game show and thought I would the share the following lyrics that celebrate friendship. The title of the song is simply “Friend”.

 

Here goes:

*All these years                all by myself

Passed through winds   walked through rains

Having had tears              having made mistakes

Still remember what to persevere for

Having genuinely loved                                 only then do I understand

One will get lonely                           will look back

I still have a dream                          I still have you

In my heart

 

#Friends walking together for a lifetime

We don’t have those days anymore

One spoken sentence   a lifetime

A lifetime of affection    a cup of wine

My friend            I’ve never been lonely

You will understand when I say my friend

There’s still wounds        there’s still hurt

One still has to go on      there’s still me

 

Repeat *###

 

One spoken sentence   a lifetime

A lifetime of affection    a cup of wine

Moonlake’s Book Discoveries- June 2016

Due to my involvement with the ePub, I had mainly been reading short stories or Agatha Christie mysteries.

Short story collections

Wonders of the Invisible World by Patricia McKillip

I like her prose which belongs to the flowing school, what others potentially call verbose. I’m generally a fan of such a style and that’s the main reason I’m such a die-hard fan of Tolkien. Btw, to me, Tolkien is not verbose, it could be lengthy, yes, but the words are well spent because they convey very evocative images of the atmosphere. But then again, that’s just my personal opinion.

A couple of the stories contain elements of female-centred romance at their core which I’m not such a fan of despite my own gender. I love fantasy because of the opportunities they provide me to get immersed in awesome lore and otherworldly culture. In particular, epic fantasy is my one true love because I have a bit of a philosophical bending and I love to read about human truisms reflected in the action of characters in an epic fantasy. But overall I still the writing style of the author. It’s a pity, though, that I won’t be able to read more of her work since my local library doesn’t stock any of her standalone novels or series.

Prickle Moon by Juliet Marilllier

Not that I can pinpoint exactly why but the writing style of the author doesn’t really captivate me in a general sense. There are a few stories among the 14 here that I like but mostly I’m quite indifferent to most in this collection.

Hall of the Lost Footsteps by Sara Douglas

What makes an impact on me from this short story collection isn’t any story included in it but rather a piece include from this deceased author’s blog entry titled “The Silence of the Dying”. I would highly recommend that people look it up just to get a very relevant perspective on how our society is get shaped into.

Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski

I like this translated work mainly cos it stars the separate adventures of a single protagonist and thereby I get to read up on a bunch of related stories. This is probably more my idiosyncrasy as a reader cos I tend to enjoy longer works that allows me greater immersion into one setting.

Elric of Melnibone and Other Short stories by Michael Moorcock

At first, I feel a little weird about this book because in one of the short standalone story early on, the author keep putting in all these side-line notes to his illustrator or whoever that he gets from his background as a comic writer that continuously pull me out of the moment. But I really like the novella in here. In particular, I like the setting very much. The main character Elric I’m okay with it in the sense that I think he has interesting dynamics but I’m not crazy about him.

Crossroads and other Tales of Valdemar edited by Mercedes Lackey

A little surprisingly, I find that overall I enjoy this short story collection which I originally felt was leaning too much on the YA side and plus I previously read another of Mercedes’ work in a short story collection containing three pieces by three different authors and I don’t particularly enjoy her writing style nor despise it. But I find that the pieces actually included aren’t too childish for my taste at all and as is my wont, I really like inter-related stories whether through the same characters or the same setting. I won’t say any particular story is spectacularly written but there are a few that I think are solid pieces of work.

Novels

It’s been an Agatha Christie period for me since I want to do light reading only. And I realised after I got back into her work that really I think I wronged her a little when previously I wrote about her in Moonlake’s Reading Tastes and that’s because back then, I haven’t read her for a while and really forgotten about how she’s like as an author. But really, I think she deserves to be known as the Queen of Crime because her books are plot-centric and I personally feel that plot-centric mysteries are the ‘pure type of mysteries’ that I really enjoy as opposed to work by newer authors that are character driven. That’s my own reader taste but there it is.

I read the following books by her (or based upon her work):

Poirot Investigates

This is a collection of a bunch of cases starring Poirot. Pretty good light reading.

Unexpected Guest

This is a novelisation of her theatrical play so technically it’s not by her. But the author didn’t do a bad work in my opinion. I didn’t like the end as being too melodramatic and suddenly turning in the direction of a love drama but I can see that it would potentially have great impact in the theatre. After all, that’s what the story was originally written for.

Death on the Nile

Her classic big surprise at the end got me and I’m the type of reader who is glad of such a thing. Not one of her work that I really admire but not bad. Plus it taught me a little trick of how to bring in pitch into dialogue.

They came to Baghdad

I rather like her description of Baghdad and I actually got a good picture in my head of how it was like in her era though that is partly attributable to the fact that I’m Chinese. Plot-wise, had a few pleasant surprises for me but it’s another one of hers that I sorta liked but don’t really love.

Incomplete Reading

Warriors edited by George R. R. Martin

A short story collection based on the theme of warriors but spanning across genres. I tend to like the stories contained in this volume a fair bit compared to all the others I had actually finished above. I actually find two female authors that I would rather like to follow, Robin Hobb being one. I didn’t finish it but I will re-borrow from my local library at a later point in time.

The Inheritance by Megan Lindholm & Robin Hobb

I only got to the Megan stories and didn’t really enjoy them. They are still solid pieces of work but still don’t speak to me as a reader. Didn’t get to the Hobb stories and so another tagged for re-borrowing.

The Mistborn #1 by Brandon Sanderson

I got high recommendation for this series from multiple sources but apparently I don’t really like Brandon’s writing style. Or actually, I should say I don’t really like his writing style for the main text, I rather enjoyed the snippets he put before the start of his Chapter to do with world lore. I only got to Chapter 8 or thereabouts and really, I felt like I was reading a new form of spy thriller/fantasy. Then again, I’ve been addicted to Mainland Chinese TV drama of spy thrillers and maybe I was just seeing everything from a spy thriller lens.

Overall, not sure whether I will re-read this but might if I become desperate of having a fantasy series to read.

Moonlake’s Writing Updates (5)

Firstly, I’m still working on my story Thread and will be doing so for a while now. I’m now up to draft 3 on Thread part 2 and just starting on it. There’s also now going to be a part 3 which basic plot I just ironed out this morning with the help of my collaborator on the Labor of an Empress, a short story published in issue 1 of the Excursions from the Citadel, an anthology series composed of my work and that of 2 other authors (I’m saying this for the benefit of my new follower and those who are just passing by this blog). We two are now going to collaborate on part 3, the grande finale to Thread.

Secondly, I will be exiting the Excursions as an author after issue 3 but will stay as proof-reader and general commenter for the contributing authors. I will be taking a short break from short stories to do some of the writing challenges commitments I had set myself in relation to Citadel retro quests but after that I will move onto writing novellas on the main and my own solo venture. The reason I’m doing this is that I feel that as a writer, I have a preference for writing a longer length of work with more complexity than a conventional short story should have.

Another development is that I will be doing a replication of a Chinese online novel for the purpose of challenging myself to writing a different type of protagonist that I had been writing. It will be mainly for my own development process as a writer and I won’t be publishing it. I got this idea mainly because I’m an economics researcher and in research, replication of previous studies is often a first step in the research process. Also, while I don’t think short story writing is really for me, the epub has been a valuable opportunity for me to learn about myself as a writer and spot my own strengths and weaknesses. One of my weaknesses have been characterisation and so far all of the stories that I have written or attempted to write have had weak protagonists. Therefore, I’ve decided to pick a novel with a strong protagonist so that I can be more versatile as a writer. I picked a Chinese online novel that I had been reading recently which contained a strong female protagonist that I personally like.

That’s all for now, till next time.