Win a chance to attend a Lunch + Reading Session with me, where you will be one of the first people to read my yet-to-be-published fourth novel.  Read here how:


The Third Book

April 11, 2010

Page 91. We are looking optimistic, people.

Writing is always something that I love doing for one reason or another, but mostly because it’s through writing that I can get all the demons inside my head out and invite new demons in. When I say demons, it’s my personal word for whatever things are swirling in between my ears and get me moving.

Anyway, today I want to talk about writing the third book a little bit. For me personally, Divortiare – my second book – is the one book that I really put my heart and soul into whilst writing it. Each word was carefully picked, the metaphors and paragraphs cut-offs were written and rewritten that it took me a total of 6 months before I had the guts to send the manuscript to my editor.

Then immediately after I returned from this trip watching the first F-1 night race in Singapore, I had an idea to write a story that revolves around the race. This was in September 2008. I spent almost a year working on the first page alone, honestly. I revisited Divortiare from time to time during that period and wondered how could I came up with sentences so easily when I wrote it (believe me or not, I came up with the phrase “commitment is like getting a tattoo” in just minutes. This was – of course – during the period that I could write 10 to 15 pages a day). And now that I’m working on the third book – still untitled, by the way – even deciding where I wanted to start telling the story from was really really really difficult. Have I lost my mojo or something? There was a point where I honestly believed that Divortiare was the best that I could have written. Ever. So imagine my predicament.

So guess what I did. I came back to Singapore in September 2009, this time to actually see the whole race from start to end, even the practice session and the after-party and the concerts. My goal was one: to absorb as many experience as I can and to actually relive the whole thing that there’s no reason that I won’t be able to describe everything in detail when continuing writing the third book (that I have abandoned for probably 6 months by then). Which then would make this the most expensive book I’ve ever written.

You see, writing is something that continuously evolves as you – the writer – live through the day. I could never write like I wrote Divortiare because it is literally impossible for me to return to the state of mind that I was currently in when I wrote it. I could try to sit in the same room, turn on the same music, and even wear the same clothes, but I could never relive the whole thing fully. So to try writing like Divortiare would be a useless effort. What I should do is just to write. Period. So as soon as I flew back from Singapore 3 months ago, I tossed the previous draft and rewrite the whole thing all over again.

With my impossible schedule at the office in the last 8 months that left me no time and energy left to write as I get out of the office at ninish and tenish almost every night, the writing schedule has also changed. The only time available now is only the weekends, and even then, I’m always being presented with offers to do other things that I can’t refuse. Then there’s also the new hobby: photography. So since a month ago, I decided to recruit three of my best friends as my so-called editors. What I do is sending them draft after draft as soon as I finish it, even if it is only one page at a time. What they do – besides commenting on the drafts – is demanding more and more draft from me on a daily basis, not allowing me to ‘slack off’, if I may say. What I do is also sworn them to never let the draft be seen by anyone else. It was strictly ‘for your eyes only.’

Another thing that I started doing differently whilst writing this third one is to use social media to communicate more with my readers. Twitter, for example, has proven to be a very effective thesaurus. Well you know how suck my bahasa Indonesia is – what I did when I wrote most of the time is to write sometimes a whole paragraph in English first then rewrite them in again in bahasa. Such a hassle, right? So what I do now – besides using the standard-issue bahasa Indonesia thesaurus – is usually just to ask tweeps who read – I call them tweaders – to help me out with a word or a sentence. I just shouted ‘what’s the proper Indonesian word for keukeuh?’ and dozens and dozens of replies arrived within minutes.

What I’ve learned from the last 2 years since I’ve become a published author is one: writing is an experience. It’s the way you package everything that you’ve seen, heard, smelled, and imagined into strings of words that would create meanings to everyone who reads it. And when I said ‘seen, heard, smelled, and imagined,’ I’m also talking about what I’ve learned from the readers’ mixed responses to everything that I’ve written before.

If I may say one thing, I have high hopes for this third book. And I surely hope I’m not gonna disappoint you when it finally arrives in your hands.

Twain, Austen, and Shakespeare had it easy. They didn’t have BlackBerry and Twitter and Facebook and Monday Night Laughs to distract them from writing.

PS: I’m still on page 14. At least 200 more pages to go. Maybe I should compile my whole status updates on Facebook and turn them into a book.

Pardon The Crappy Handwriting

February 27, 2009

I don’t usually take a lot of notes when I’m writing. Just the occasional quotes or song titles or name of restaurants as I came across them, and the most that I did was saving them as sms drafts (which makes my mobile phones my most prized possessions). But for this third one, I decided to get serious a bit. And honestly, there were too much details for the mobile phones to handle. So I sketched and scribbled. See if you can guess what the third book is going to be about ; )

I was having dinner with friends at Chopstix a couple of weeks ago and I grinned when I cracked open the fortune cookie and read what’s in it.  And what did the fortune cookies say, you might ask?  Naah, it’s too silly to share here.  After all, I’m here to finally announce the lucky 5 who will get personally inscribed copies of Divortiare from me.  It’s long overdue, I know, but it’s not until recently that I have the time to read all the reviews 😉  If you’re one of the lucky five, kindly email me your shipping address at (for your own privacy, I strongly urge you not to give out your address by leaving a comment on this very public post).  So, here it goes, in no particular order whatsoever:

Quinie-Se at Blogspot

Sariffa at WordPress

Putri Padmosuwarno at Blogspot

Katekgawe at Multiply

Titien at Multiply

At The Office This Morning

December 2, 2008

The receptionist: “Mbak Ika, ayo kasi tau dooong, sebenernya ending Divortiare itu gimana.”  

My best friend: (grinning) “Gue tau banget tuh sebenernya apa cerita di balik ending gantung itu.”  

Me: “Apaan coba?  Pasti lo sotoy lagi deh.”  

My best friend: “Alah, waktu elo lagi mau finish itu, trus lo sibuk banget dikejar-kejar RKK direksi nasabah si PT X itu kan?  Makanya langsung lo kasiin aja ke editor lo, gantung ya gantung deh.  It’s not like you have the moral obligation to provide a conclusive ending anyway.”  

Me: “Hahahahaha!”  

PS: The laughing neither indicates a confirmation nor denial, by the way 😉