Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mapping Tash

The bad times in writing are numerous and range from being merely bad to truly catastrophic. Any writer will tell you that the daily grind of writing is in itself a challenge, but anyone engaged in a serious project will experience great lows during which one doubts the very validity of one’s existence as a writer – sometimes it feels as if one can’t even write a single sentence.

The job of a writer is largely concerned with being able to withstand these dips in morale. Sometimes they can last months, during which the whole of your life seems futile. But writing is cyclical and if you can hang on long enough and keep working through these dips the good times do come back. Eventually.
Comforting words from Tash Aw who talks about his new novel, his creativity, and how the press got it wrong about the money is interviewed by Soon Heng Lim in today's Star. I especially like the question about whether serious fiction/literature is scripture for a secular world?

Lim also reviews the novel here.

Glad I am to see that this time round there's plenty of publicity for an author of whom we are rightly proud.


medul said...

Wasn't he born in Taiwan? Both the review and the interview open with "Malaysian-born".

bibliobibuli said...

yes, you're right. your guess is as good as mine ...

Amir Muhammad said...

His official website says Taiwan. And someone should also tell the webmaster that he now has a new novel!

bibliobibuli said...

maybe he's tired of having to explain that although he was born in taiwan because his dad happened to be working there for a while, he's malaysian. certainly it made a lot of people on this blog (unfairly) question his credentials as a malaysian author.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter what nationality he is lah...We're not UMNO morons being nasty to Pendatangs.

- Poppadumdum

bibliobibuli said...


Yusuf Martin said...

The quote, above, by Tash Aw sums it up well I think.

As yet another writer who is trying desperately to write their first novel, I can echo those words.

Put succinctly - its bloody hard work mate!! Especially when the only incentive is to get the work finished, with no book deal, no publisher, no agent and dwindling enthusiasm it is a wonder that there ever is a first book these days.

Congratulations to anyone who has been through that and come out the other end, alive!

BorneoExpatWriter said...

I've been through it many times with many novels spread over 26 years (completed the first draft of a novel while still living in the US), though there were times when I thought it'd never happen, my enthusiasm is riding high these days. Call it faith. Writing a novel is writing on the faith that despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, my first, and many more novels to follow, will be published, will find readers.

I'm looking at the proof (and the proofs) of that faith of a collection of narratives that in the back of mind I always saw as book and now that book will be published this year by MPH. Tropical Affairs: Episodes of an Expat's Life in Malaysia.

I look at the proof of Lovers and Strangers Revisited, stories that first appeared in Her World and Female 20 years ago, have been published for third time and the collection is nominated for an award in Malaysia.

I'm applying that same faith to my novels, which is why I keep reworking and rewriting them. I know, in the near future I'll be looking at the proofs too. I believe it. If you believe it, truly believe it, and back it up with the hard work, you will achieve it. By tossing in the towel, you only guarantee it won't happen, unless someone pulls it out of the trash, like Stephen King's Carrie, or your mother, long after you're gone and sells it for you, like A Confederacy of Dunces.

It does happen, so Yusuf, hang in there. I have faith in your writing ability. I've seen the evidence. So let's race to see who gets our first novel published first and in doing so, we'll both get them published! Believe it, you'll achieve it. What else do we have to go on? If we don't believe in our own ability, why should anyone else? Let's prove it!