Mi Vida

This is Embarrassing

Really, it is. How long was it, five months? Damn. I knew it was a long time since I’ve written something but did I really sunk that low? That’s like five months of full throttle otaku mode!

Senpai, notice me!

otaku

Yes. I am admitting to the world. I am joining the anime fans. I no longer watch regular television programs, need very little sleep to function like a proper human and eat leftovers throughout the day. I am only a simple girl wishing to end one episode after the other and falling in love with fictional characters.

Honestly, it wasn’t meant to be a permanent status. I watched anime when I was young but I don’t like it, I mean, I can live without it. No big deal. One of the reasons I was not so into it was because the Malay dub was nothing short of remarkable, it’s boring. They did a pretty decent job but it’s the same actors day in, day out, this series and that series. The story line was mainstream. Either the protagonist had the best skill at spinning a top or racing cars or catching furry little monsters. I’m way past that phase, as far as I’m concern.

And then I tried following Aang: The Last Airbender (A:TLA) and I thought that it was one of the most awesome, memorable cartoon/animation I watched on t.v. It had proper essence, like, it actually taught me something valuable about myself and I did not expect that from a kids’ program. I was hooked.

atla

The picture accurately portrayed the 61 episode journey from start to the end and I loved it. I was so excited with this new found genre (I thought this was anime – it’s not) that I immediately started watching Legend of Korra (LOK) – the sequal of A:TLA.

korra

Big mistake. All 52 episodes of it. The series had the biggest potential to be a better hit than A:TLA but fell short. They had pretty strong points – the fight scenes packed more power and the worldbuilding are way better than the first counterpart but the story line after Book One: Air was totally ridiculous and I can’t empathize with any of the the villains afterwards. I reached out to fellow LOK followers online (the series was still ongoing at that time and everyone was hoping that it will knock our socks off – fat chance!) and while waiting for the next episode to be uploaded online, I spent some time watching some anime recommendations from my virtual friends.

One of it was Barakamon. It was supposed to be a trial series since it only has 12 episodes. It should not burden me or waste my time or left me sobbing after the first episode or made me more determined to practice my art no matter what. Handa Seishuu was an infamous calligrapher known for his short temper and he had punched the director of an art gallery for criticizing his masterpiece. The story unfolds when Handa’s father suggested that he should cool off his temper on an island where his father grew up. The series was not about magic or vampires or demons. It’s simply about life and how you handle failure. I have never felt this kind of resonance with a character before. Handa and I, we’re both on the same page. Angry and struggling and we want to be the best. It got me from the very first episode and never let go.

handa

Do you know what happens after that? I went absolutely crazy and it will get more and more embarrassing after this.

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Mi Vida

Second Official Book

I’ve waited 2 months (in agony) for them to evaluate my second full manuscript. I had high hopes that it will be published (I’m pretty optimistic sometimes) but I didn’t expect it to take almost a year to do so.

Yep. They sent a contract saying that I can only see my baby by May 2016. [*hyperventilates*]

Don’t get me wrong. I’m ecstatic that I finally found out that they were really going for it because it was not the kind of book that they would normally publish. I’m my own category. But I feel like frothing in my mouth with all the bubbles of my future expenditure. A year, man. And the royalty is paid annually, at the end of year. [*throttles myself*] I must have made a serious gamble.

I was hoping to escape this prison, maybe further my study with the royalty. I don’t know. I need to breakaway as soon as possible. My heart is not in the right place. But this is actually a step backward. It will take me at least another 2 years to actually get paid. Oh my god, thinking about it makes me ill.

This will not do. Gotta step up my end game. I’m game for another book.

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Mi Vida

Unspoken

I rarely speak nowadays. If I am required to look for a new friend, I’d tremble at the thought of new conversation, like a kindergartner on her first day. I would rather stay in my room or look for a clean table and began to type. I might offer an occasional ‘hmmph’ so my parents knew I was listening. Other than that, I’m quite mute and it came naturally.

The society was not impressed. It was called ‘snobbish’ or ‘pretentious’, I guess. They tried to lure me out with cute children, gossip and food and I deliberately took the first bite. And then I learned my lesson – people really suck sometimes and they do it for fun.

The gathering was totally unplanned, of course. The objective is to exchange latest stories – dramas within 10 mile radius, recipes, children’s traditional remedy for simple ailments, religious talk and of course, the timeline of someone’s humiliation that’s coincidentally was not there. I came from a girls’ school and it was supposed to be the broth and blood in my bones but now I’m just sick of it. I had the same feeling when I scroll down my Facebook’s newsfeed. I was there, mute and judging silently. Sometimes I feel proud of myself. Thank God I’m not that pathetic. Most of the time I felt more awful than the previous time. Then I unfollowed them all, leaving the updates of some book bloggers, artists, photographers and writers.

And yet I still felt annoyed. Ugh. Pesky humans. They don’t even mean what they say!

I realized it way too late. People talk and say things. Promised things. Jokes about things. A word of advice; they don’t really mean it. They scatter the words into the wind and forget all about it when they sleep. Some never intended to keep it. They said you’d be their best friend forever and you thought that should last long enough after the sun collapses and you were wrong. They left and stomp your heart with their feet. They said they worry about you because they love you and they don’t want you to make mistakes and that’s why they’re not going to support your decision. You need some networking, not wasting your time doing petty things, they said. You’re not supposed to be happy. Just suffer life like the rest of us. Use your degree. They tell you if you have any problems, they’d be there. The same one that says ‘all your secrets are safe with me.’ When disaster struck, I had to chase them one by one. I begged them to protect me. I was that scared. All I received was uncomfortable silence and a voice saying ‘call me when you’re better and we’ll celebrate!’

And I just stood there with all the words printed on my bleeding skin. Reading it all over and over again, asking myself which part of this conversation I didn’t understand.

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Mi Vida

New Books

Every time I write a new post, WordPress is updating something. Either the panels are suddenly on the right and then on the left and then it’s everywhere. It’s confusing. That’s how long I’ve been doing other stuffs besides blogging.

I’ve been working hard to the point that my hand isn’t what it used to be. The tiny bones around my middle knuckle is not happy each time I grab a pen or typing something. It aches like a mother. It’s my fault probably. I punched a wooden cupboard in fits of anger and now I’m paying it with my unworthy fist.

I finished an English book about 56 K unedited words. A paranormal thing that I thought a lot about. I’m letting it stew for about a month before I have another go at it. I sent the 3 first chapters to my old publisher because one of the workers told me back in 2014 that they were looking for English manuscripts but it came back with ‘we no longer publish English books’ in my inbox. That’s a shame. They published a few, I think. I have to find another publisher who does. I’m nervous when I think about book agents and international bestseller with my name but it would be so cool to break out from this maze.

I finished a travelogue with about 60 K, edited without mercy. I thought it was one of my most emotional works. I put a lot of effort into it. Sent the 3 first chapters to the same publisher and it was rejected after miserable 2 months. The long manuscript queue almost drove me insane. One should never advertise to give one’s feedback after 3 weeks when one only have time after 8 weeks. The panels (there were 9 people judging me, most of them writers of the same company) said that the 3 chapters don’t have enough ‘hook’ to bait the readers. I admit that’s true. I moved it back to chapter four because I need to say something important (and boring) in chapter three. 4 people agreed to publish it. 5 said it sucked big time. I accept defeat and try to connect with another publisher.

I wrote to him in fits of anger. Maybe this dude could help. I followed his rants on Facebook. He seemed cool and fearless and just absolutely sincere to the point that he was banned from giving speeches in universities and some public places. He didn’t reply. I was desperate. 2 down. I have to search for other people and I’m running out of lists.

I sent to another publisher, a relatively new name with 12 books under its belt. It was a scary mail. I was terrified of another rejection mail. 4 days later they said yes. We want your full manuscript. I was over the moon. It’s been a month after they asked me for it. I hope it went well. I really do. The manuscript is important to me. It contained half of my precious life. I was hoping to publish it since the past 10 years and when I’m ready, I hope to do it as swiftly as I could.

Meanwhile, I found another publisher who publishes English, Malay and even short stories. Interesting. I worked on several short stories (sucky ones, I’ve been told but this is when I didn’t know much about short stories) and sent it to them on their website. The CEO liked it. Sent me a mail on the same day saying that it caught his attention. The 10 stories was about 13 K, a meager meal way below the company’s requirement of 20 K words for short stories. He said he had forwarded the stories to their English editor and it has been a week that I’ve been waiting for that bloody girl to write me something. No word.

I have two pending works and I am going crazy because I can’t do anything about it. Now I’m working on a love story. It should be about 70 K but that was not the most terrifying thing about it. I didn’t know much about love but I’m lying about it anyway. I’m up to chapter 5 (out of 35) when suddenly I thought it would be a great idea to write a series of Malay short stories. Now I have three. Needs seven more before I could send it off.

My thoughts are everywhere. I hope my babies are all alright. I’m paranoid. My hand hurts. I hope things will get better soon. I really do.

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Mi Vida

Perks of Being a Translator

Last year, I translated a book from John Green called The Fault in Our Stars.

tdbb

It wasn’t my first choice. I wrote to the publisher and asked if they were interested in paying me to translate The Hunger Games and they told me that it was already an ongoing project (for 2 damn years) Instead of moping, I asked if there was another project and they said yes, for Mr. Green.

I mean, I’m on tumblr and you, sir sucked big time if you failed to read all the quotes that crept slowly on your dashboard. I thought it was ‘deep’ and philosophical but no way I would read the book. It’s just not my kind. And yet when in Waterstones I saw that book up for a quid and I bought it without thinking twice. Part of it was curiosity but another part was just a dim wish. I might get to fangirl with them (tumblr girls crying over Gus) and get some friends. You know, shallow, selfish stuffs.

So I read it. To be honest, I cried but not a lot. I cried more reading The Hunger Games (sorry, wrong genre) Honestly, I think it’s an equally brilliant book though I have to admit that I disagree on certain parts. I loved how he managed to make Amsterdam a metaphor for Hazel and The Anne Frank House for Gus. It’s like it’s written in the stars [*teary eyes*]

Okay?

Okay.

So my publisher said there was another girl who was supposed to be doing the translation but she had to continue her studies and there’s a possibility that she can’t do it. I said fine and it was supposed to be a 50-50 deal but in the end she just managed to translate up to chapter three. I was fine with it but I would suggest that anyone with the right mind should really think of translating one book alone. It’s a headache to fuse two minds into one voice.

The editor said that I have less than 2 months (we need to publish it before the movie screening in Malaysia) so I did my best. It was hard because Malay words are formal (sometimes philosophical) but not well adapted to be embedded in the minds of teenagers and TFIOS is a book aimed for youth. It’s a young adult literature. So you have to fence fight with literary terms and jostled it with really shallow street slang. You have to mix it right so it should not be too sharp, nor too blunt. I revised and fought for my translation. Sometimes the editor thought it was okay but sometimes he changed it, sometimes without telling me. I told him the truth. Some I do agree and some I didn’t. In the end, the book was done and was sold out in 3 weeks. It went into second print until today it’s one of the bestsellers of the company.

I guess I did okay. Some complained that it was a really formal translation of TFIOS and not ‘groovy’ enough but I’m fine with it. It’s over. Can’t change anything and won’t.

The publisher sent me another manuscript called Cat out of Hell right after the day I sent him the full translation. A pretty dark humored book, if you ask me but he wanted me to choose between Park and Eleanor and Cat out of Hell and if given another chance, I would still choose the same book. I love Cat out of Hell.

Can’t stand P&E. Sorry. Too much brands promo/pop culture references to shape up an identity. I know it’s for youth but not everyone has the same ideology or identify with American brands. In certain countries outside of USA, a common brand costs a fortune and we only saw them on second hand shops or donated during floods. It’s a pathetic excuse to build a character.

Well, yes. Moving on. I was being upset about something more important than labels.

My publisher and beloved editor.

He gave me some time to peruse the book and then told me that I should contact him when I’m done. I guess I deserve some break after TFIOS so after a month, I mailed him asking for updates. I was translating the book (for about 10 pages) and then he promptly said that we’re not printing that book. Malaysians might not understand the dark humor.

Fuck.

Fine. My fault. I should have asked him first.

I met this editor many times. Always smiling, having fun. He knew I speak Spanish so sometimes he would say some Spanish babble and I just laugh. I guess he’s a nice guy to work with.

I asked him if I can get some discounts for some poem books and even my translated copy. He said I can get it for free. WOW. This is so cool! I was looking forward for those copies but then he promptly forgot about that. Fine, I said. Next time.

He put on Facebook that his company was looking for an in-house translator and I immediately applied hoping to get it because I helped them before. No reply.

I asked for my royalty after 6 months. Nothing. There were some mails back and forth. Asks and answers. There was something about consignments, and bookshops not paying it but other than that I guess I have to wait for it. I kinda break my heart because I was asking about it since early December to get to a book sale. Nothing. When my grandmother died, I didn’t have a dime to chip in (that was early January) so I am quite upset with the whole arrangement.

And then again, on their FB page, he’s asking for a Spanish translator (when he already got my resumé from the in-house translator vacancy. He knew that I speak Spanish) Still, I sent my CV. I wanted to see how long can he ignore me, push me and just pretend that I didn’t exist.

I once sent a manuscript to be published (long time ago when my English REALLY sucked) and got nothing as a reply. I can accept that. But now? It’s the same voice. Same action. I feel like a candy wrapper, now discarded at a wrong recycle bin.

I guess I can expect the same thing from him now. No-fucking-thing.

And it’s just so sad because his echo is blaring; that I’m not good enough, that my part of the answer equation did not matter to him and my efforts were worthless. All those nights and worrying and dictionary browsing were nothing. I was just a mean to get a book published and I should not take offence because they’re a big, established company with money.

And stupid me, I thought that if I did a good job they would want me 😦

 

LATEST UPDATE 14/05/2015:

The royalty has been paid some time last week 🙂 I felt like it rained golden nuggets. I thank the unfaulty alignment of stars for this.

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Mi Vida

1/365

It’s another year. Yay!

Another chapter is being written. Honestly, I find 2014 filled with disasters and innumerable deaths. Stories died. Things forgotten. People holding so many promises faded into shadows. Gloom. I don’t know if I should feel terrified or this is the very reason why I should step up and be fearless.

Fearless. Or is it brave? What’s the difference? Should I put courage in the same equation? Sometimes during desperate times I wonder what’s it like to be the daughter of Ares, the God of War. Can I slay the drakon, like Clarisse?

I have no idea.

I guess I got what I wanted. I’ve written a book and published one. I translated another book and finally I have written an English short story despite of having so many doubts and fear that I’m not good enough. I’m the only one who can slay my monsters and I constantly need to do that, on a daily basis and especially when I write.

Before Ryan came, I didn’t think it was a big deal.

He’s American. About 26 years old. I always have this fantasy that I’m able to host a stranger. My house is quite comfortable and those ‘surfers’ can sleep in my brother’s room. A guy (a Czech) from Global Freeloader, another site not unlike Couchsurfing (CS) wrote to me and asked if he could stay. That’s why I updated my profile on CS. I think it’s a brilliant idea. You register as a host for fellow traveler, they stay with you for a couple of days much like a guest, you show them around and then they leave. You’re like a small, private, cheap hostel. It’s wonderful. Those foreigners will learn the real deal, not the tourist aimed activities and of course, keep much of their money for the important stuffs, like airplane tickets or food.

The catch is you don’t know them and vice versa. My sister did not like the idea. Ryan could be a serial rapist or a kidnapper or a thief but I went out with some of couchsurfers when I was in the U.K and they are the very image of a universal language of motion and I understood them.

So I told him that I would pick him up at the jetty.

He’s clean, empathetic and passionate. Worthy of many legends. When I told him I was a writer, his face beamed like the sun. He said he wished that he could be like me. Not as a writer but as a person who follows their dreams. His calling is music.

We talked a lot. He was an English teacher in China for almost a year. When he finished his contract, he thought that his Christmas and New Year is going to be somewhere nearer to the sun (nothing with snow like Omaha, Nebraska) and though his mother didn’t approve of his decision (I can relate to that) I swear, I saw a lot of younger me in his journey. Temperamental, rash and just about had it with routine. Nothing is more lethal than a comfortable life without progress, or what you call routine.

I wanted to help him because I remember how clueless I was. How confused. I spent years wandering and looking for inspiration. Some sort of clue. I want to be the protagonist of my own personal legend and looking around, I felt like a salmon swimming against the current. Fighting something impossible, like gravity.

They would say, everything is enough. Be grateful. Conform in society. Agree with majority. Get a real job. Get married. Get paid doing something you hate because it’s necessary. And many times, I thought these people were right.

I can’t do that to Ryan. I hate it when people lie to my face because they’re too scared to seek something they truly want.

I know some journeys you just have to walk alone. Ponder all the important questions and hopefully find some answers. I feel like Chiron, trying to teach Hercules all that the hero needs to remember in a sword fight but the fight is never mine. I can’t fight the monsters for him. I realized that I came so far. I suffered so much and yet fulfilled in so many ways. It’s funny that I passed this level of difficulty. I never thought I would be able to do something that made me truly happy.

And then the weirdest thing happened. The lost boy, Ryan, the one trying to figure out life one step at a time, finding courage and luck, missing his family and tirelessly asked me the same question over and over again ‘how did you know this is what you want?’ actually helped me more than I originally wanted.

My problem was solved in 2 hugs.

I mean, I always crave physical contact but my family don’t do hugs. We do handshakes but nothing more than a playful pecks on the cheeks. No hugs, no touching. I got this crave when I started learning Spanish and getting along with Spanish speakers. They touch, they kiss, they hug and those are my cure. I love our long conversations. Our lunch or dinner. Sitting before an array of food. Talking about everything. We would laugh and joke. I would tell them how awful my day was and there is always a gift in return; an advice, an apologetic smile, a warm enveloping hug, a gentle squeeze on my hand or just a touch on the knee.

I can’t tell you how I missed those days. The days when I was not alone. The days when someone in my life listens and cared. And I wanted a hug.

I favored a hug from a husband of an ex-colleague. He’s a bit younger than my father and always have good things to say about other people. That booming laughter. The couple has always been my favourite. Please take note that I’m not a creepy person but his hug is something that I think about from time to time. I felt like my life had been the longest winter night and his hug is the first ray of sunlight. Warm and melting. It was so good, like almost frozen toes near the furnace kind of good. I even thought of the worst hugger of all; my ex-boss. He would be the one that I suspect the reincarnation of a boa constrictor. He surrounded me like a vice. Almost like a torture device. I would sweat in his arms, have trouble breathing and hyperventilates when he let go. The craving was that bad, it seemed that I even want him to hug me again.

And Ryan’s hug was somewhere between the two.

He stayed about 2 days and then bought a ticket to KL and later to Siem Riep. The Air Asia news spooked him a bit but he insisted that he should go. Death does not scare him because he couldn’t stand the ‘what ifs’.

That was my answer for his questions. The What Ifs. The Road Not Taken. The Other Maybe.

And I told him, ‘it would be so much better, if you could channel the same faith with your music career’ and for the first time, he was speechless.

It seemed that we both got what we wanted. I got my hug and he got a bag of words that strike the loneliest chords of his soul.

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