Monday, September 28, 2015

arrange words into stories, gather writers into a tribe

Meet the geeks and freaks who turned up for Matchbox Mayhem: Geeks and Freaks!

Last Saturday. Spent the afternoon with a tribe of young people. Geeks and freaks and writers and story artists. At the Matchbox Mayhem event organised by the Youth Arts department of the National Arts Council. Talked about Super Cool Books and answered questions. But also listened. To ideas, suggestions, challenges, dreams and invitations. Wow. My head was buzzing all the way into the night. A good sign. I could feel things shifting.

One thing I realised from the session, as writers we'll always have to keep finding out what's true for us. What matters. It's easy to string words together. To fumble through a piece of writing. But not so easy to create something that's worth caring about. Worth reading. Worth showing to someone else.

I had planned to talk about our 100 WRITERS project and share tips about self-publishing. But from the conversations that afternoon, I was reminded that creating your own ebook and putting it online and telling people about it, and submitting it to publishers and agents and writing contests and applying for grants, that's the easy part.

The hard part, the thing that matters above all, is getting your story written. And then making it just a bit better.

This is so simple yet sometimes so impossible that it breaks your heart.

Stories are elusive. We might feel a great urge to write something and share it. But often we don't know why. We don't know exactly what we're supposed to do to make this happen. We look around and we think maybe no one else will care. So why get started anyway?

Introducing our stories. Check out the two cover designs (top right) for the 
new Sherlock Hong edition coming out later this year, illustrated by anngee.

Sometimes it's a struggle to find the space to work on your own story ideas. I know this myself. Life happens. Priorities. Doubt. Inertia. Distraction. People telling you it's A or B or C or D that matters. But nobody telling you to just sit down and be nice to your dreams and keep writing until it starts to look decent. The story ideas start to fade and they become a hazy memory and then we completely forget.

So what can we do? Write it down. Everything. The bits and pieces of your stories that come to you during your day, or late at night, don't let them slip away. Chase them and catch them and keep them warm and safe and then one day you'll find that they've turned into something quite real and lovely and just knowing this makes you feel warm and safe too.

Look and look until you find a way to do it. Write and write until it becomes the truth.

Me with fellow speaker and writer Samantha De Silva.

As I promised at the event, I'll be putting together a simple story development workbook and making this available as a free PDF download. Right here on Super Cool Books. That's the important next step for 100 WRITERS.

I didn't want 100 WRITERS to distract me from all the writing I need to do myself. That was my fear for a while. But no, this is actually helping me understand my own work better. I probably need 100 WRITERS more than anyone else.

Stay geeky and freaky and write.


— D

All of us! Sort of. Minus the organisers. ‪Photo by @InTheMatchbox

A highly innovative flyer design. Some paper engineering involved.

Here I am taking a quiet moment before it started. And also testing my phonecam.

His name is Lynx (proof: see name tag on shoulder) and he wrote this book.

Check out this talented young illustrator's awesome work: 

Fellow writer Joelyn Alexandra turned up too! 
She's also a member of the Happy Smiley Writers Group.

Finding out about the National Arts Council's mentorship programme

Matchbox Mayhem: Geeks and Freaks! was organised 
by the same people behind the Noise Singapore 2015 Festival.