Posts Tagged ‘advice’

I didn’t realize it was 10 years later that I wrote to another one of my favorite authors. It was none other than the master of suspense himself, Sidney Sheldon. As usual, being 32 without having much success of getting to see my book in print was not very encouraging. I kept thinking to myself that I must be doing something wrong. The publishing opportunities in Malaysia was still very slim so I tried sending my works out to the US and other countries but there was nothing but rejection letters. I even sought out literary agents but with just a messy compilation of short horror stories (which was known as Bedtime stories from under my bed then) and a mystery suspense horror manuscript entitled Something about the Moon, they just weren’t good enough to land any deals.

Again, I needed some kind of approval to know that I was publishable or at least I had some writing skills. If you notice the change in my name it was also about this time I was going through my own transitional period with religion, identity, career, and a whole lot of questions about where I was going with this life.

It would take another 16 years before I am finally published for the first time by MPH. My first book Bedtime Stories from the Dead of Night finally saw the light of day after years of getting stuck in a publishing limbo.

The advice about not leaving your day job while pursuing a writing career only made sense to me when I was older. And the all time favorite advice to write, write, and write is the only way for any aspiring writers to go. With all the ups and downs, doubts and self-deprecation, disappointments and lonely nights, writing is a pilgrimage and an adventure. It may seem like an impossible dream at times but no matter how long it takes, it is well worth the journey.

It took me a long time to get published because things were different back then in Malaysia. There were very few publishers who would take on works by local writers and generally they preferred nonfiction to fiction. Unlike what writers can do today writers from the pre-internet days had very few options. It was either self publishing, which cost a bomb, or … wait a minute, there is no ‘or’.

There were no local writers I could ask or talk to about pursuing creative writing not only as a career but as my entire lifestyle. Like any other young and emerging writers, I needed some kind of approval or sign to let me know that it was okay to be a writer. That I was not fooling myself with my head in the clouds. That I would be able to get by. That I could cheat death and survive the writing world. With only western world writers to look up to, without hesitation or doubt I wrote to Stephen King. I was 22, I was a little desperate, and I wasn’t expecting a reply. But lo and behold, Stephen King sent me a standard form respond card and some photocopied articles. I mean, who does that? The King of course.

This small act of acknowledgment has taken me a long long way to be where I am today. It may seem like a negligible matter, but to one who has always loved writing with the hope of getting published some day, it meant the world to me.

Today I celebrate 50 years of existence and 11 years of freedom.

When I was younger I never thought I would live this long. But I guess I braved out the storms and made it through the rain. Although life didn’t begin on a bed of roses for me I’ve always felt like I was being watched over by angels or maybe guardian aliens. Every time I stepped into a situation that would send me spiraling into the abyss I was whisked away again back to safety. I can think of so many instances from drugs to the company I hung out with to underworld dealings that could have wreck my body and soul but I always never got that far. There were times I was self-destructive and there were times I would have gladly given up hope. But somehow, I survived.

Here are some of the 50 of the things I learned in this challenging and yet exciting lifetime.

    1. The idea of perfection is so deeply ingrained in all of us that we begin to feel inadequate the moment we understand it.
    2. Things do get better only when you take the first step and make it happen. Everyone can still create hell for you but your truth will bring out the best in you, for you.
    3. Nothing lasts forever, that’s why they are even more beautiful when seen with the heart.
    4. You can never make anyone like you anymore than anyone can force you to like them.
    5. When people are nasty to you for whatever reasons it is best to stay away from them. Their negative vibes, energy or chi is a disaster waiting to happen.
    6. Your greatest strength is your greatest weakness and vice versa.
    7. Laughing at yourself is the best remedy for self-pity.
    8. Nothing is as tragic as we want to believe that it is.
    9. Everyone you meet helps propel you towards the direction of your destiny whether they are good, bad or seemingly insignificant.
    10. If you can’t accept someone for who they are you are only adding another burden to yourself. You have to acknowledge their existence, hate them for what they stand for and keep renewing your hate for them every day of your life. And all they have to do is to avoid someone like you.
    11. If you have to think a lot about how to make your relationship work, most likely it’s already going downhill.
    12. There are two types of people who criticize you. One does it with an outstretched hand; the other does it and walks away.
    13. Just as in writing, show don’t tell. Show your love, show your kindness, show your true self and tell no lies.
    14. You will one day wake up and realize that everything that you’ve got will amount to nothing much if you are the same person with the same mentality ten years ago.
    15. The only way to make your dreams come true is to think, strategize and act. If you think too much you’ll be stuck forever. If your act too fast you’ll hit the wall. If you only strategize you will never get anything done.
    16. Anything addictive is never good.
    17. Wherever you go, there is a vast difference between running away from something and heading towards your dream.
    18. If you do anything that doesn’t pay off spiritually, there will come a time when you have to pay back physically and emotionally.
    19. You only look forward to retirement when you hate your life and hate what you do.
    20. The more highly you think about yourself, the easier it becomes for others to control you.
    21. Abundance is what we nurture from within, not something that we accumulate from without.
    22. Anything done in desperation leads to devastation.
    23. People who can’t govern themselves usually want to govern others.
    24. When you are suffering you are actually punishing yourself. Learn to forgive yourself from indoctrinated guilts and you will find the solution that will set you free from your agony.
    25. If you are afraid of the dark, it grows darker inside you.
    26. When your home is not a home it makes you want to travel – all the time.
    27. If you are ready for life, life will be ready for you.
    28. It is the small joys in life that will help you carry on without strings attached.
    29. Failure is how we judge people against unfair advantages which are bias and illogical in the first place.
    30. If you don’t like to be alone, you have never really taken time to know yourself.
    31. Rewarding ourselves is akin to giving the dog a biscuit for being obedient.
    32. When you come to a crossroad in life, go towards a new direction.
    33. If you want to be something that you’ve always wanted to be, now is the time to begin.
    34. Do you live in an ivory tower, a glass house, in the clouds, in the tree or in a shoe? If you know where you live you will know how you live.
    35. Refusing to change your mindset while your body is growing older will cause all kinds of ailments.
    36. You can become your own worst enemy or you can become your own personal savior.
    37. What do you get out of being nasty? A headache? A migraine? A blood rush? An award?
    38. Love is never what you want it to be but it’s always a wonderful and unexpected surprise.
    39. Everywhere you go you affect someone else’s life by helping them grow or scaring them back into hiding.
    40. Death should be talked about as though it’s the beginning of something not the end of everything.
    41. You never grow old when you have things around you that keep you young.
    42. The moment you realized you’ve been had, that’s the moment you get your wake up call.
    43. Would you rather love someone for all that they are or would you hate them for all that you’re not?
    44. You will only be haunted by ghosts you have created along the way.
    45. There will always be people who like you the way you were because they prefer to look back at the past and hang on to what’s left of it. The idea is to look forward to the future so that there will be more good times and wonderful memories.
    46. Where you are today was a decision you made yesterday.
    47. The day you start blaming someone or something for your imperfection is the day you kill your dreams.
    48. Everything around you moves at a speed that which you dictate until the day you lose control.
    49. Knowing what you want in life beats everything else when it comes to making decisions.
    50. In the end it’s about finding yourself with the help of hundreds or maybe thousands of people who came into contact with you the moment you are born.

So, before you reach 50, make your life what you want it to be so that you can look forward to the days to come. And no matter how tough the present moment may seem, you can make your life richer through perseverance, passion and a positive attitude.