About Me

My photo
Brian J. W. Lee is a writer. When he's not writing, he's plotting to plunge the world in a deep chasm of terror, darkness and screams. Sorry, did I get carried away?

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Stuff that Makes or Breaks Writers

While I was surfing the waves of the Kboards forum, I encountered a man (or girl, didn't matter) who decided that talking about anything bad in my country is wrong because there are starving kids in Africa who can't get an education and many people would love to be born in my country. It annoyed the crap about him, and he admitted that he had never been to my country.

Now that really brings me back, all the way to my childhood. So what did go right, and what did go wrong? I'm going to try to do this chronologically:

1989: I was born, and I survived my birth, obviously. Ding!

1995: My entry into the education system begins. Ding!

1995: Bullying begins at a young age. Bzzt! (But also good in a twisted sense as it taught me a lot about human nature from when I was a wee lad)

2003: My entry into secondary school at the age of 12 marks the beginning of my interest in writing, reading and literature. Ding!

2004: For some time in my youth, I was discouraged by my fundamentalist Christian mother from reading Goosebumps or any other books she deemed wrong. Pokemon is evil, that's how bad it was. Bzzt!

2007: Confusion about my future led me down the wrong path as I pursued Biomedical Science rather than something related to writing. Bzzt!

2009: I was conscripted. Giant BZZT!!!

2011: I entered university after 2 years in that hell hole. Ding!

2011: It is at this point that the anti-intellectual, anti-creative environment in Singapore becomes apparent. Similarly, as my eyes were opened, the traditionalist attitude of society becomes hard to tolerate and work with. BZZT!!!

2014: A few internships at a number of publishing houses showed them to be financially and politically challenged. Traditionalist attitude reigns supreme in some, ensuring that their growth is limited. I realised that Singapore's publishing industry is not only NOT thriving, but might be dying. BZZT!!!

2015: Graduation. Can't find work in the publishing industry. It's just too small and embattled. BZZT!!! (Although this actually turns out to be a blessing in disguise, as it frees up my writing and editing energy for my own work)

2016: Found work in an exploitative human resource/cleaning/security company. You'd have to work 2 half-days on Saturdays every month, there's minimal pay and benefits for outrageous job scope. BZZT!!!

2016: My reservist liabilities begin, which means some time lost to the military at random times throughout the year, plus a ton of worrying, fearing and lamenting throughout the year. BZZT!!!

2016: I couldn't get my book traditionally published - There are just too few places to submit to, and I was out of options quickly. BZZT!!!

2016: I got my book out on Amazon. Ding!

2016: But that presents a double-edged sword: If I don't become successful, well, I don't get paid for this all that well, and nothing much will come out of it. If I become successful, I'll earn, I'll get famous, people will read my stuff. Lots of events will happen. But if I piss off the wrong people in Singapore, they're going to become a bunch of sour plums, press charges against me, and get me sued. If it's some powerful, rich dude doing it for the state, oh boy. And since human rights means nothing to the majority in Singapore.., BZZZZZZTTT!!!

So there you have it! A brief history of the good, the bad and the ugly things that could make or break writers, at least in Singapore.

So, what are my findings after this little thought experiment? That dude who has never been to my country, who decides to lecture me about it anyway had it right in a select few areas. Sure, I get fed, watered and educated well enough, but you see all those buzz kills? Well gee, that's a lot of them, and many of them have a lot to do with being a writer.

I rest my case that Singapore is not conducive for the development of writers. Nothing much redeems it in that direction. The scheme of things could keep the body alive, and its desires in check, with all the food, water, safety and security provided, but this is all at the cost of the soul and mind because, apparently, the prerequisite for material success is an overbearing government that can't stand critiques, and a traditionalist, close-minded society that won't allow even the slightest deviancy from the social norm.

Here's the funny thing though. What serves to limit creativity can also serve to enhance it. Paradoxical, contradictory, I know. But, see, censorship and all the nasty stuff associated with a dictatorial regime is the stuff of history, something else to write about. It's its own topic. Not to mention, when there are restrictions, you learn to find your way around them - That's creativity for you, alright.

No comments:

Post a Comment