Friday, May 18, 2012

A Writer's Biography

I moved to South Carolina 3 years ago from Singapore. I always wanted to be a writer but never had a chance to seriously pursue the craft. So instead I write a blog – a way of telling (or fooling?) myself that I am a writer, to keep the dream alive; thinking that blogging is a way to practice the way a runner trains for a marathon.

But for years I struggled to complete a novel and some short stories, always blocked from finishing the work. Maybe I procrastinate too much; in between raising kids (both boys now in college), doing my day job, keeping my wife happy and having a decent family life. Trying to become a creative writer felt like a secret life, or a hidden vice like a drug addiction; going to work for a large company, working with computers but surreptitiously reading and enjoying books, practicing writing by blogging and attending short courses.

Now close to middle age, I feel time is running out, realizing late that writing is more about craft than divine inspiration; perhaps misled by writers like Ernest Hemingway who made it look easy; the first author I enjoyed reading, who led me on this path, soon progressing to other novelists like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, George Orwell, Yasunari Kawabata, John le Carre and Arturo Perez-Reverte among many others. Writers advise us to read widely and broadly as the first step, so I got that right but stayed far too long, neglecting to learn the writing craft; the clinical steps of revising or editing.

Recently I read ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield, one of many Do It Yourself books I read, as if writing can be learned like assembling furniture or gardening, like reading something like ‘Investing for Dummies’ , but this time it felt different. Inspired to be serious, to be a professional instead of an amateur, I was moved by the work, reading it while on a bus from New York, leaving Chinatown near midnight, travelling south towards rural fields, resolving to be a real writer by attending this course as the first concrete commitment.  

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