Writing, like all arts, takes hours of practice, stretched out over the course of years. Like many of my generation, my first foray into writing was fanfiction. And like many teenagers back then, I was terrible at it. I was 13 when I started, making this year my 10 years anniversary in writing, and unlike most, I wasn’t particularly good with the English language back then. My grades were sup-par and you can often catch me standing outside the classroom during lessons after I’ve got sent out by my teacher for disrupting the class.
Even then though, my attempts at fan fiction were no small feat. Most of them were original stories, with a full original cast, just set in other people’s worlds. I wrote them as sequels or prequels, completely standalone of the original. And as far as I’m concerned, they were. Which sort of made my experience unique. I wrote fan fiction, a lot. I’ve had ideas upon ideas, many prologue’s, and was over 150,000 words in by the time I stopped. That’s about the length of two long novels.
Over the years, despite everything life had thrown at me, writing has been my constant. Despite schools and depressions and conscription and jobs, I kept finding time to write, even if it was just a few hundred words a month. In that time, I wrote quite a few short stories, which were all rejected when I sent them out to publishers. And I’ll never know why. After all, who has the time to write a reply to 1 author out of thousands? So I read more books, scoured information from the internet, self-taught myself all the grammar, punctuation and spelling that I did not learn in class – mainly because I was always outside of class – and slowly and painfully got better.
Singapore, the country I live in, is not really optimal for writers trying to break out. Our local publishing houses are known for their textbooks, short horror stories, and local tales, and absolutely nothing else. Writers born and bred in Singapore are a rare breed. Partially because art scenes in Singapore are rarer than a shiny pokémon, and also because of our upbringing and the fierce focus families have in pushing their children towards known ‘money-making’ jobs like bankers, businesses, lawyers, and doctors, discouraging anyone from taking up the arts. Workshops are hard to find, and good workshops are perhaps once a year event.
One moment. All artists hopes for that one moment. A split second of bliss for thousands of hours of practice. When the skies are bright and your viewers gasp at your work. A short, second long validation of your hard work. When musicians and actors play to a standing ovation and comedians get an encore of laughs, when dozens gather in front of an artist’s painting, contemplating the meaning of life. That one second when a film makes people jump in their seats. Or when an author’s book appearing on a list of anything, amidst hundreds of thousands of works that drowns out the scene in the internet age.
139: In Evening scraped into the final spot of JukePop’s monthly top 30 in January. I had not expected it. I did not even know I was in the running. I thought I was so far back that the only chance I had was if the server crashed and the top 10 stories got deleted. I logged on to check for 139 Years to the End of the World and imagine my surprised, when I scrolled all the way to the bottom of the page and saw the title. Beside it, my name. I was shouting in joy, leaping around the room. Former Aspiring JukePop Author, Aden Ng, with his thriller, 139: In Evening was on the same list as Aconitum, My Super Midlife Crisis, and Flocked.
One and a half years of work, driven by nothing but passion. From the literal bottom of the barrel to the worst of the best. A victory, at the final seconds of its life. Once the bliss had resided, I was buried face first in my pillow, grinning as mad as the Joker would. I fell asleep, right there and then, a huge weight lifted off my shoulder. It was the best sleep I’ve had in years. I knew, that when morning came, it was back to the same old trudge. The same old pulling of legs through mud. But for that one, peaceful tick of the clock, for that one moment, everything was perfect. I was an okay writer. And it was totally worth it.