365. Where The Road Ends

The last day of the year is a hell of a good day to wrap up your 365 project.

(I really took 519 days to get here; but give me a break, alright. It’s hard work cranking that many words out)

365 days. 500 words a day. That’s 182,500 words – probably the length of American Gods. Considering how some of the posts were much, much longer than the 500 minimum I placed on myself, I’d go out on a limb and say that the real number of words uploaded onto this space to be in the range of 200,000 – 220,000.

Anyway.

The last day of the year is also a hell of a good time to take a good, hard look back on the road and consider…

Consider what?

Consider the number of days that have passed? Or how, when I was slugging through the middle, I thought this damn thing was going to go on forever? Consider the milestones I’ve marked along the way? The successes – the disappointments – the days on which absolutely nothing of note happened?

Stuff happened. Yeah, I think that’s a good summary.

Over the last 519 days of this 365 project, stuff happened.

And I continued writing.

I think one of the important things I’ve come to realize is the need for patience. You know what I’m saying? I’m not going to go on one of those “In the age of instant things, we all want things yesterday” rants. But that’s what I learned: patience, indeed, is a virtue.

Whether it’s dressing a short story up or completing a 40,000 word novel (that’s Johann’s Fantastic Adventures Through TIme, which I am still working on, if you’d like to know), I have found that it’s almost always a bad idea to be overeager. Impatient. To be caught in the excitement of the moment, mistaking the heat for the spark of brilliance, and end up showing the world something half-baked. And it’s slowly deflating as the initial excitement escapes from it in hisses.

Impatience is what the older generation always fault the younger with, right? I’m reflecting upon my very first posts to this space, and I’m thinking of Past-Me… What an impatient little prick. Always rushing from one thing to the next.

I actually feel older now, 519 days later.

A little bit older. A little wiser. A little bit more patient with the world.

In many ways, I believe I have also matured with my writing. I have read more, experienced more… Learning to deal with disappointments and handling people. I’m definitely a lot better with rejection now that I was in July 2013. And yet, as a certain wizard in a tall grey hat would say… The road goes ever on and on.

I’m still young. 23 today. 24 tomorrow. Just beginning to scrape at a quarter of a century old. Even if I suddenly age 6 years, I will still be at the ripe young age of 30 – a good ripe age to begin doing something with me life. So I think I’m still good. 23 going on 24.

I have time.

I can wait.

350. Sunday

Holy hell, I’m less than 3 weeks away to the end of this project?

I’m writing this at 8.25A.M., in the little window available to me while the chicken that will be my breakfast/lunch sits in the oven. In a few minutes, I will get dressed, go downstairs, check if the chicken is cooked, and proceed accordingly with either more cooking or breakfast.

If I walk down the stairs and a nuclear war breaks out, that’d be a real shame. I was looking forward to that chicken.

These are dark days.

In the 50 days in between this post and “Saturday”, the world has changed – not by much, but it tilted on its axis. Everything shifted ever so slightly to the left. Gravity has displaced itself by a couple of centimeters. My room remains my room, but somewhere in the world, there are lives that will never be the same.

In the past 50 days, a Malaysian aircraft was shot out of the sky with a missile. 300 people died. The Russian government doesn’t seem to be taking any action, and it seems as though the Western governments are ready to take drastic actions against Russia the longer they wait. It’s almost like they’ve been waiting.

In the past 50 days, the longtime conflict between Israel and Palestine has blown way out of proportion. Missiles have hit central Israel. In retaliation, Israel has invaded Gaza with 40,000 foot soldiers. Both sides and their supporters are screaming for blood. Human blood. Like the old gods that we condemned and shelved away and buried, they are asking for a blood sacrifice to appease their wrath.

In the past 50 days, two teenagers lured a friend to their house – not a stranger, a friend – and stabbed her, because they were trying to get the attention of the fictional entity known as Slenderman, created out of a message board between users who were trying to out-scare each other. A boy, on account of “being a 22-year old virgin”, drove around in a BMW and started shooting people on sight.

If you asked me, the world is going to hell. There’s no tactful way to say it.

Sunday is church day. Sunday is God-devotion day. Sunday is our sabbath, where we will not put our hands to work. Sunday is the day I actually spend time meditating upon the words and values of God, and more often than not, I get a little insight on how I should be able to live my life a little bit better. How I can get along with others just a little bit better.

Sunday is the day of right set wrong. Sunday is the day to act as children of God, if you haven’t been doing that all week. Sunday is the day of cleansing of lips and hearts, of rededication to our maker. To understand that He is in control, even if we don’t understand it, even if the circumstances strongly suggests otherwise.

Sometimes Sunday is the day of hard messages. There are things said from the pulpit that I cannot bring myself to swallow.

But God is, well, God. And His ways are higher than ours. How can we hope to understand the ways of the Almighty with our limited minds that we have only just begun to figure out how to use?

This is Sunday. A day to converse with God.

So dear God, hear my prayer:

Let there be peace on earth, and among every human heart.

Amen.

300. Saturday

(you’ll notice that I missed the post in which I was supposed to write about Friday. I will tell you that it was an intentional move: a symbolic act to show how Friday is a day of carefreeness, of having the freedom to forget, at least temporarily, about obligations. I will also be lying. I completely forgot about it and wrote about falling asleep instead)

This morning I woke up at 6.18A.M., rolled around for a little bit before eventually leaving my bed at 6.49A.M., then going downstairs to boot up my laptop and made breakfast for myself. For the first time in my life, I made scrambled eggs, cooked ham, made toast on a grill, and ate it myself before cleaning everything up afterwards. I think I have this grown-up thing pretty much nailed, with this.

For the first four day-of-the-week themed posts, I expressed surprise that I even made it that far without repeating a title. This time, I can’t believe I haven’t given up on this exercise yet. Somewhere past the 270th post, I came to the realization that I was really, really running out of ideas.

(somewhere, the hypocrisy alarm is going off)

I’ll tell you that ideas are unlimited, and that will be true. Everything that has been invented from the dawn of mankind to the present day does not even begin to scratch the surface of the things that we will achieve as a species. As far as original ideas go, they go on forever.

Unfortunately, I, Joseph Ng, do not constitute, or have the imagination of, an entire species.

No doubt any other person can look at this space and immediately point out something that I haven’t blogged about – dating, for example. Love. Sex. War. Violence. Dance. Exotic travel locations. There are plenty of things I haven’t talked about. But they’re someone else’s ideas. They’re not my ideas.

(just like how you have jurisdiction over your own children, but not other people’s children… Even though they’re all children. You get my drift?)

There are 65 more posts to go. I have plenty of story ideas left, so we can take 1 from every 7 out of that number, leaving us with 56 posts. Honestly, I’m not sure if I can keep this up for 56 more times. Heck, I don’t even have any ideas for the next 5 posts. But like in any grand undertaking, I just keep repeating to myself, “One day at a time… One day at a time…”

But hey, we’re supposed to be in a celebrative mood for this milestone, right? I mean, 300 posts. That’s at least 150,000 words posted on this site now, or the average length of a Stephen King novel. Just a little bit more, and I would’ve written enough words to rival American Gods.

(off on a tangental topic, Anansi Boys is turning out to be quite the enjoyable read. More polished the Neverwhere, and heaps more fun compared to American Gods)

So here’s to how far we have all come. You, reading this, for sticking with me – whether for the past 300 days for the last 3 minutes; and me, for, you know, writing all this crap.

The skies fade over Saturday, and Sunday is coming…

242. At The End Of The Day

You’re another day older!

(Les Misérables soundtrack play in the background)

So tomorrow’s my last day at work.

That’s life for you, isn’t it? The more you dread something, the more something’s a grind, the longer you have to stick around. The moment I changed my mind about the job where there is no work to be done, then comes the time for me to go and move on with life. It’s almost like one of them stories – the protagonist never gets to rest.

It is, in fact, an advice given to writers who are just starting out: if your protagonist is comfortable, you’re not doing your job right. Being the protagonist of my own story, it’s probably fitting that all these things come together at this time too.

So yes, tomorrow is my last day at work. Tomorrow is the end of the 3 months, and after tomorrow, a new adventure begins. A new adventure which, I suspect, will involve playing a lot of video games and being broke a lot.

I can’t say that I’ve been happy for the job that I had, because the job itself has taught me nothing at all. And that’s the honest truth. What I’m thankful for is the time that I’ve had over the last 3 months, time that I have spent reflecting and doing some serious thinking about who and what I want to be, about what I’m looking for in this life. Can’t say that I’ve found it, but I have at least got my bearings.

Now there’s just the matter of making money.

Before I go on: I feel that it’s important, at this point, to say that none of my coworkers (in my department, at least) knows that I’m leaving the company. On Friday, one of them was still cheerily giving me tips on how to get clean water from the office pantry, because apparently, the water that comes out from the tap is filthy.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her than I’ve been making tea almost everyday out of that tap water, and I thought that it was delicious.

Maybe I won’t tell them at all. Maybe I’ll just pack up my things and leave, and leave them to speculate whatever happened to the intern who had nothing to do. Maybe I’ll become the stuff that legends are made of.

(“And then he mysteriously disappeared, and no one has heard from him since…”)

My mom, ever the voice of conscience, insisted that I buy something nice for them, as a token for thanks, or at least a token of good-riddance before I leave. Maybe I’ll do both – buy them something nice, then disappear without a trace.

In my resignation letter to the company director, I said that I will be leaving the company to pursue further career paths, or something along those lines. I wonder if living like a hobo can be considered a legitimate career path.

Wherever I find myself though, you can at least bet that I will still be writing.

Godspeed.

200. Thursday

Ah, Thursday. Only one more day to work before it’s the last day of the week before the weekend.

It’s Thursday when you know that the worst is over. You’ve crossed the halfway mark to the weekend. If the first 2 working days could be compared to bringing a car (assuming a stick analogy) up to gear, and Wednesday is when  you kick into high gear, Thursday is when you relax your feet on the accelerator.

It’s all chill, man. It’s all good. We’re just cruising now.

This is post number 200. The 4th 50-day milestone in this 365-day writing journey. I’m amazed I even made it this far.

I mean, 100,000 words. You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s more words than the unabridged version of The Hobbit. That’s 2 respectable-length novels. That’s 2 years worth of NaNoWriMo projects. That’s more words than a non-writer writes in a year, and I’ve done it in a little more than half of that.

(there’s a comparison here to be made about 100,000 words with the number of words the average American reads per year, but opinions are so diverse that simply going through them would be a huge nightmare in itself)

But there’s still work to be done. The week isn’t even close to over yet. Maybe on Friday the action winds down, but for now, we cruise on. We use the momentum we’ve built to carry on.

Carry on, I say. Carry on.

There are stories to commit to words. Scripts to write. If anything, I’m just hoping that the bulk of the work I have to be will be done at the end of Friday, so that when Saturday and Sunday rolls around, I won’t have to burden myself with work on the weekend. Hopefully by that time, even work will be on cruise mode – taking care of itself, rather than having me chase after it.

With a big stick, naturally.

Also hopefully, the fine mess I’ve gotten myself into would be resolved by the end of Friday. No way to know for sure right now, but things must find a way to sort themselves out. And I really don’t want to be bringing work back home for the weekend. Let everything settle, that I hope and pray.

But as it has been said, many times, many ways:

Carry on.

183. Who Are You People?

With this post, I have successfully crossed over the halfway mark towards the completion of this 365-day writing project.

(more or less)

There is only one thing that bothers me:

Who are you people?

Who are you people, you who come by to visit from countries I’ve never been to, and some I’ve never heard of? Who are you, who listens in on my rants and my self-absorbed posts and opinions? Who are you, who actually gives a damn about what I write?

(to be fair, maybe you don’t. But I like to think that you do)

As of 1A.M. today, this blog now has 59 followers – that’s enough followers to start an average-sized American church; and to quote Mr. Baggins (the elder), I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like. Heck, I don’t know any of you at all!

(well, except you guys – Vivian, Ann Na, Isaiah, and Richie – you guys are wonderful)

The halfway point of a journey is always a good time to reassess one’s position. In screenwriting class, as we study story structure for emotional torque, the midpoint of the story is where the protagonist is forced to make a second commitment to his quest.

As I cross the midpoint of this journey, it’s a good time as any to get to know some of you, and to make some reintroductions, for the benefit of those of you who weren’t here at the beginning.

Hi, I’m Joseph Ng, a Christian and a writer from Malaysia (the two are not always mutually exclusive, but most of the time, they are). More than anything in the world (except maybe pretty ladies), I like stories, and I write all kinds of them: short fiction, long fiction, episodic scripts, stage plays… Whatever I can get my hands on, and whatever I’m given the opportunity to do. I started off writing short stories when I was 16, and I still write short stories to this day – for few other reasons but that they’re easy to write.

(on the subject of pretty ladies, I just saw Mr. Boone’s “Stuck In Love” yesterday evening, and I think I may be a little bit in love with Lily Collins)

Sometimes when I’m lucky, I get paid to write stuff, and I hope to one day make this writing thing a proper living.

But first, I need to get my bachelor’s degree.

(it’s kind of a funny story, involving me hoping at the beginning of my university career hoping that the Ministry of Education would one day come to their senses and abolish Moral Studies and Malaysian Studies as compulsory courses. That didn’t happen, and I’ll have to sort that out sooner than later)

Until then, I work a day job where I consistently complete work faster than it can be given to me. In between jobs, I write some more stuff to further perfect my craft, and in the hopes of some of these things getting published, and – fingers crossed – getting sold. For actual money.

A man can dream.

So now: who are you people?

150. Wednesday

I am continually amazed at the ever-rising post number. Was it only a few months ago when I started with the first post? It feels like only a week or two had passed since. Yet with an average of 500 words per post, today’s post marks the 75,000 word milestone on this blog.

(now if only I had that kind of commitment towards the novels that I’m supposed to be working on)

Time, like money, leaves you with change after it’s spent. After the hours spent updating this space, I think I’ve grown at least a little bit as a person. As a writer. My horizons have expanded that little bit. I can see just a little bit further. I can think just a little bit clearer. I can write just a little bit better.

But a little bit is good.

(with an average of 30 minutes spent on a single post, this one marks 75 hours spent writing for this space. Only 9,925 hours more to go before my writing becomes world class. We can also infer that 20,000 posts will equate to about 10,000 hours; which means that to be world class, the aspiring writer should have written 10 million words, given by 20,000 posts multiplied by 500 words per post)

Wednesday is the day in the week where you’re not quite starting out, and at the same time you’re not quite ending – stuck in the middle. The folks whom I work with in the church media team have their progress report and planning meetings on Wednesday mornings – kind of cool, because it gives me time to recover from the weekend and finish up the week’s task in the time remaining after.

Wednesday is the day that you’ve fully gotten into the spirit of the thing – or at least have gained all the momentum you need to produce work at that perfect balance between minimal effort and maximum quality. Wednesday is the day that you just do the things you do so effortlessly, because your mind isn’t occupied by anything else – not the weekend past, not the weekend to come.

At 150 posts, this is Wednesday for this blog and I. I’ve gotten so comfortable with this space that I’ve stopped doing spellchecks. I’ve stopped fretting over the hits this site gets. I don’t even bother with brainstorming for new post ideas – I just sit down in front of my laptop, open a tab to write a new post, and I hack and slash away at the thing until something that resembles a post appears. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t; but most of the time it does.

I’ve even stopped worrying about pacing the writing and making it perfect for the public eye. When inspiration strikes, it strikes. When it doesn’t, I write anyway – a point that I’m particularly proud of, because this was the very reason I started this project in the first place. I cannot say that I’m concerned – but what’s of importance as I write these days is simply to let the ideas flow. To let the words bubble up from my brain, course down my nervous systems and into my fingertips, and appear on the screen.

I’d say I hit a milestone. It’s something, but there’s still a long way to go. Tomorrow begins a new day in this journey.