Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Book Project Rides Again!

Book Project 2 is launched today, 11 a.m. at MPH Midvalley. According to the blurb from MPH:
The Book Project’ was conceived to help nurture successful amateur writers. The project, which focuses specifically on the large number of talented, unpublished writers in our midst in Malaysia, seeks to give a means and platform to such talent. ... Ms Theseira said, “The Book Project provides a wonderful opportunity for literally anyone and everyone to showcase their work. Once a writer’s work is published, who knows what other doors may open for them. The first step is to put their stories in print.”
I'm still as ambivalent as ever, though I must confess that I haven't yet seen a copy of Book Project 1 and must judge by merit before I sound off. It's great that new writers have a forum to publish their work, we certainly need all the forums for new work we can get ... but how much are they learning by having their work edited for them (not by them), and shouldn't there be a modicum of survival of the fittest to ensure the best work gets through? Isn't The Book Project more about vanity publishing than helping new writers learn the craft?

Joann Koh in the Star shared my concerns in an article she wrote back in June :
... questions arise. With such a loose set of criteria, will The Book Project satisfy the expectations of a paying public? If not, is the public supposed to overlook personal satisfaction for the more noble cause of having supported local writing? More importantly, how much has getting published helped these new writers write better for a paying public, if not now, then in the near future?
The evidence in the end has to come from the writers themselves and I would love to hear of their experiences. (Yvonne Foong has a story in BP2 so I'm sure she will let us know about her experiences.)

I found Jermaine's blog (one of the writers anthologised in the first book). She writes very eloquently about what it feels like to have your story mutilated:
he whips out a scapel. he runs it over my body.

slitting, slashing, slicing and severing.

i think i have died, but not quite, not yet.

and then i feel him lift up what is left of my mangled self. he carries me to the balcony.

"it is yours! devour it in all its perfection!" he shouts to the ravenous crowd below.

i fall into the sea of groping hands.
Update: Yvonne's account of the launch with pictures. Courage to dream. Of course. Just make this the first published piece of many.

14 comments:

simon said...

off topic, but finally sharon has linked me! woo-hoo!

The Visitor said...

having done copy-editing, sub-editing, and proof-reading in my decade-long career in publishing, i have become cynical and wary of writers who cry wolf at the slightest or first snip.

an experienced writer does not jump at the throat of the editor right away, but takes a moment to consider if there really is a problem with the writing. then she or he discusses the changes with the editor.

i have had experience with writers who cry bloody murder even though i made their work read very much better becos they handed in garbage. i have had writers who cursed and spat at me.

well, i started out being very possessive of my work too. but maturity and experience have taught me that a second or even third pair of eyes is always good in picking out what we, as writers, overlook, becos we're so close and involved with the work we are doing.

bibliobibuli said...

simon - took you long enough to notice!

visitor - what you say holds for feature writing but fiction is rather different because so much is subjective ... will come back and write a post about this to explain what i mean but no time or energy at the mo (what's wrong with me? i feel like a limp dishcloth today and can't get myself together)

starlight said...

when i wrote my first piece of fiction a couple of months back, i found myself getting very defensive when my publisher suggested a some changes. but after forcing myself to take a step back and view my work again, i had to admit that he made a lot of sense.

as a writer you will always be too close and emotionally attached to your work to judge it objectively. most new writers are like malaysian idol contestants. they write because someone told them they have what it takes to be the next Tolkein or Rowling. not all of them do and it's hard for them to accept the morsel of criticism after the generous dishings of praise. then there are those who have raw talent, but who bristle at an editor's attempt to help them polish it.

there is an abundance of courses on how to write. perhaps there should also be a course on how to BE a writer.

starlight said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Yvonne Foong said...

Hey Sharon. Yup, I agree that our stories are edited by Karen. Otherwise, I doubt many of us can be published. LOL! Why don't you ask her why she does what she does? I would like to know too.

Given the chance, I would insist to edit the story myself the next time around. This is my first time being in print by the way. hehehe

But thinking about it, if Karen did not help edit the stories, will many of these writers be passionate enough to polish their work? Honestly, there aren't many passionate writers who are willing to undergo layers of editing before getting published. sigh... maybe Karen is doing the reverse > edit for them first, and then let them learn from there.

Personally, I have learnt a lot from my editors and my writing improved greatly over the months, simply by watching editors in action.

Let's ask Karen for her opinion one day.

bibliobibuli said...

starlight - well said here. i think the important thing you say here is that your editor suggested some changes. suggested. did not simply take your work and rewrite it for you. and learned how important it was to listen to another point of view, accept it or reject it. you put in the hard graft to improve it. and in the process you learned a great deal.

"will many of these writers be passionate enough to polish their work?"

simple answer yvonne. if they aren't prepared to revise themselves, they don't deserve to be published!!!! and if their work is not good enough without someone else revising it - they don't deserve to be published. it's a tough world out there. writers who are going to make it into print in a meaningful way need to learn how to take the knocks.

this of course is not to take away from the pleasure you must feel about being published and i hope you had a really good time today.

bibliobibuli said...

and yvonne - am glad that you say that you have learned from the experience ...

The Visitor said...

OK, ever thought about what the letters MPH stand for?

i know that for the music section, they stand for "Music Power House".

but what's the original meaning of the initials?

AHA! got u wondering, didnt i?

bibliobibuli said...

not at all, dear visitor
i know the answer
but will let others shout it out
because it is a very very good question

Frpg said...

It's Magazines Publishing House I think. It used to be called that. And Maybank used to be called "Malayan Banking" too. Wow, I'm old :P

Cheeky Monkey said...

frpg - Pffft....nice try. Take a look at this website:

http://www.mph.com.my/disclaimer/aboutus.cfm

bibliobibuli said...

yeps cheeky monkey, well done ... methodist publishing house was the original name

Anonymous said...

Oh hey great :) least it means I'm not that old yet :)