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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Dusting off my Nanowrimo 2005 novel...

Back in Nov 2005, I took part in the National Novel Writing Month 2005 and attempted to write 50 000 words in a month. I succeeded in hitting the word count, but the novel remained unfinished, so somehow, it felt like a hollow victory.

Since then, I never touched nor read the novel again. Finishing my degree at the end of 2005, I went to study filmmaking in 2006, and with that, I shifted all my attention in filmmaking. Some had asked whether I wanted to publish the novel then, and I was unsure. Publishing a novel had never been that high up in my list of priorities. Except the time in high school, when, for a few years, I felt that filmmaking was an unattainable dream, so that was the period when I played with an idea of publishing a fantasy/scifi (I'm putting both together not because I can't differentiate them, but because what I wrote had elements of fantasy and scifi) novel, because, well, I was a fantasy/scifi novel geek like many other nerdy teenagers.

So in truth, my high school years were really defined by the time when I was attempting to write a sprawling epic. I didn't write that alone though, I was collaborating with a friend. And for years, we tried to do work on that book. Having vastly different styles of writing, and creative mentalities, we both took different approaches in the thing:

He preferred the 'world-building' process, constructing a secondary fictional world with its own culture and history, I preferred writing swiftly before the flames of my creativity had died out, I preferred writing something based on how I felt during that very moment. I would rather be prolific and churn out works in a consistent basis and learn from my errors, instead of spending years to craft that one perfect masterpiece, and being tormented in the end that the one masterpiece wasn't that perfect anyway, or worse, it wasn't really a masterpiece but just a work of sheer self-indulgence enjoyed only by myself.

Maybe it's because I felt that a work isn't necessarily better just because you spend lots of hard work and time into it, that sometimes, creativity finds me when I least expect it. My belief was reinforced by the fact that my comedic short, FROM BHOL LE WITH LOVE, which I wrote and filmed in mere hours, was much better and effective than KL RHYTHM, a screenplay I spent months struggling with last year before I ultimately gave up (because, despite the fact that I spent months and hard work into it, I knew the script sucked).

Anyway, my friend and I never completed the novel. High school ended, and we started college. Due to our differing philosophies, we couldn't agree on how the novel would look like (slowly and slowly, I realized it was becoming something too different from what I've originally envisioned). So I gave up on the novel, which, very unfortunately, was a little something I placed quite a lot of dreams and hopes into.

After going to Perth, I picked up English Literature for my minor in university, and was fortunate to expose myself to more works of literature that I never bothered to check out during my teenage years.

Starting this blog, doing literature, writing became easier for me thanks to constant practice. So in 2005, I decided to take part in the Nanowrimo, I thought I was at the peak of my creative writing skills then, and 50 000 words wouldn't be that hard for me. Things that happened to me in real life (the bittersweet taste of unrequited first love, the rage against the Establishment, the development of personal philosophies, observations of societies), people I met then in Perth, all those were great sources of inspiration for what I wrote then. In fact, I was actually doing a 'reimagining' of the fantasy novel I was writing in high school.

So it remained a fantasy/sci-fi novel, but with my personal whimsical style, a hybrid of romance and slapstic comedies, where people acted in a modern, 'hip' manner despite their fantasy/sci-fi surroundings (maybe i'll just say that it's a postmodernistic work!). The story was left hanging, and I didn't have the motivation to complete it.

More than two years went by, and I barely gave the story a thought. I knew Nanowrimo would most probably be a once-in-a-lifetime deal, I guess I may have outgrown the story or something. The novel I wrote in Nanowrimo 2005 was a product of that very moment of my life, and since there were some major changes that occurred to me and my life since then, it became rather hard to continue.

That's what I thought anyway. Yet for some weird reason, certain incidents in the past few days have prompted me to reread and reevaluate what I've written then. My year-long 'creative drought' that lasted throughout most of 2007 had finally ended. I was hanging out at the Kinokuniya in KLCC yesterday, then picked up Cormac McCarthy's NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN for a read (I just saw the film). Felt a little inspired, decided that I should, I don't know, see what I can do with my own unfinished little novel.

I hate loose ends, I always want closure for everything I do.

Reading what I've written again last night, after two years of not seeing it, it felt very weird. There just seem to be this distance between the work and myself that made me feel as if the novel was written by someone else even though the prose, the plot, the narrative style, were all unmistakably mine. At times it worked, at times, its cringe-inducing.

I'm not sure whether I really want to complete the damned thing, or rather, whether I COULD finish it. Nonetheless, I'm dusting off the Word file, looking through everything again, and maybe, I'll try to bring closure to the novel. Although, the me of now am too different from the me of then, so what I write now will be rather incongruous compared to what I have now. But hey, maybe only the me of now can complete this novel.

Sorry about this long rambling, if you really bothered to read through the whole thing, you might just be as mad as I am.

On the other hand, Gong Hei Fatt Choy, you all.