Singapore writer Joyce Chua has a section on her blog titled #CreateYourLife. She interviewed me for this last year, with questions about my writing process, my development as an author and also my creative influences. You can check it out here. All this while she's been really busy herself, because she's found a new way to connect with readers over the internet. She explains this below. Whatever kind of stories you're interested in writing, just read on and you'll be inspired. Thanks, Joyce, for taking the time to share your ideas with us.
MEET JOYCE CHUA
Tell us about yourself and the books you’ve published!
I’m the editor-in-chief of ZCOOP magazine by day and a young adult author by night. After graduating from NUS with a degree in English, I won a nationwide novel-writing competition organised by the National Arts Council. My YA contemporary romance, LAMBS FOR DINNER, was published by Straits Times Press in 2013. I blog about books, writing, and TV shows at www.thewritesofpassage.wordpress.com in between writing my next novel. I can also be found on Facebook, sharing one too many baby videos, and indulging in my obsession with all things pretty on Pinterest and Instagram. I am also the co-founder and contributor of a short story blog called Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand, which I run with three other writer friends from across the globe – Rebecca Donahue, Meredith Crosbie, and Nicole Evans. My writing has appeared in commercial publications like Cosmopolitan Singapore, The Straits Times (Urban), and ZCOOP.
Why do you write fiction?
You know how, when you were growing up, some books managed to reach right into you and stay with you for a long time?
How some characters seemed so real and human and relatable you wished you had them as your best friend?
How easily you could identify with the characters, empathise with their problems, and root for them even though they’re not even real people?
How some books made you laugh and weep but ultimately thankful that you got to experience such emotions?
How they moved you and altered you from within irrevocably? Opened your eyes to new things, different things, be they beautiful or ugly? Made you discover something about yourself you never knew?
This is everything books and stories have made me feel. I am forever indebted to the books I read growing up, the stories I ingested – whether it’s through books, TV shows, movies, or even songs and verbally narrated tales. Story characters were not only acquaintances, and stories not just worlds I got to live in for a while; the best stories I've read stayed with me long after I closed the book, and they have all shaped me one way or another. They entertained, they brought me comfort, they made me feel less alone.
To answer the question of why I write, this had to be explained first and foremost. Why I write is because I want to be part of that experience, not just as a taker but as a giver. Quite simply, I want to pay it forward.
I want to make others feel the same way other people's books have made me feel. I want to move them, to connect with them, show them that there are different people with different lives and that is something to be celebrated and understood.
I want readers to find a friend in my characters, to find refuge in the worlds I create, to be able to relate to a scenario or emotion and realise that they aren't alone in their experiences. I want to make them laugh and cry and understand themselves better.
It sounds lofty – and quite ambitious – but essentially I just hope for stories to connect us all as humans, to learn from and learn about one another so that we feel less alone and more empathetic. We give life to stories as writers and readers, but stories also give us life. And there's nothing more beautiful and gratifying to me than being both a reader and a writer.
What’s your role in Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand?
At the end of 2016, I came up with the idea to set up a short story blog with three other friends – pen pals, if you will – who also write short fiction and novels. Becky, Meredith, and Nicole all agreed with no little amount of enthusiasm, and we’ve been contributing to the blog ever since.
The blog is a way for us to hone our craft, learn from each other, and connect with other writers out there. It’s still in its infancy, so there is a lot more we can explore and implement. We all split the tasks pretty evenly among ourselves – writing, publishing, social media management, and reaching out to other blogs – although I also manage the content calendar and schedule (it’s a job hazard! I’m the editor-in-chief of a digital lifestyle magazine, and this is how we keep track of our posts).
How has working on this contributed to your growth as a writer?
It has definitely made me more disciplined. I’m pretty strict with myself to begin with, but to have to regularly create – and complete! – short stories for such a public platform definitely holds you more accountable to your writing. You don’t want your readers or writing partners to be disappointed!
Managing a blog with three other friends has also taught me how to manage expectations, make creative compromises, and brainstorm productively instead of just throwing out ideas hither and thither.
The good thing about running a project like this with friends is that everyone is honest and forthcoming about their ideas, reservations, and feedback. We don’t hold back, but we’ve never had major conflicts because everyone is on the same page and we have so much love and respect for each other as not just fellow writers but kindred spirits. We just get each other.
Being part of a group like this is essential to a writer’s growth, I feel. It helps you let go of your inhibitions, provides encouragement and support whenever you need it, and holds you accountable to your writing.
JOYCE CHUA'S LINKS
LAMBS FOR DINNER
Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand,
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My YA thriller co-authored with
Ning Cai the celebrity magician and author.
Published by Marshall Cavendish
IMAGINE ALL THIS: HOW TO WRITE YOUR OWN STORIES
by Don Bosco
Published by Marshall Cavendish