Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Recently, okay maybe it's been about three weeks now, my civics teacher gave us homework for this holidays which is to find out how the person who has your dream job, or maybe someone you adore or want to be like in the future, got to where he/she is now. Simply like a making a research on how to get to where you want to be.
So I listed a few authors I liked, since I wanna be a writer, and I got Sarah Dessen and Cathy Cassidy. Dessen writes teen fiction, which sometimes can be really depressing and dark, but there's always something new to learn - a rebellious side of the world that I might have never wanted to step into before I read her books. Cassidy on the other hand writes children books, which I read when I was around 11-12, borrowed from Elia Anis. Her stories affected us so much that we're still reading them when we entered Sri Aman. I believe I saw her with Angel Cake in form 1 and I just bought the same book last year and planning to buy more after this. Age doesn't exist in fiction, I tell you. Her writings were very sweet. I think you can see a theme going on based on her titles. Very sugary and colourful.
The thing about these two is that they write real-life fiction, not fantasy fiction like I wanna write. So I decided to make a research on another author that I think most of us know, which is J.K. Rowling.
So when I read Cassidy and Dessen's biography on their websites, they didn't lead a life where success was just along the yellow brick road. They had both been writing since they remembered, and never wanted to be anything else other than that. They got degrees or diplomas in either language or something along those lines. Dessen became a waitress and wrote stories along the side. Her parents weren't approving, but they supported her either ways and let her live in their house, until she published her first book and got an offer to teach. Cassidy got various jobs from a magazine editor to an art teacher. She got married, got another degree, taught in a secondary school and I guess that's where she really went back to writing seriously. It wasn't mentioned. Now they both live in the country, married with children and pets.
Many people who know me have always said that I have potential. My mom's friend Aunty Anne can already guess that I got straight A's for PMR, when I don't even see her more than once a year. many of my schoolmates weren't surprised with my results neither - as if it was all expected, when you guys have no idea how much I was doubting myself.
So my parents, too, expect me to be successful in the future. They say it shouldn't be something that's surprising - your parents are stable, working people and you have all the resources you need - tuition, books, internet, school. If I didn't get straight A's during PMR, there must've been something that went wrong. so now they say that I can get straight A's for SPM too, and I can be successful if I keep working hard even after that.
Thing is, I don't want to be a successful person, if successful person means doctor or scientist or accountant. If successful means being happy with whatever job I have as long as its sufficient and leads to my happiness, then I'd do anything to get it.
So I went to J.K. Rowling. Her website was under construction, saying that her new book will be something totally different from Harry Potter. So I just went to her Wiki page. I was expecting she would be confronting a problem of these sorts too, since I'm sure she's well-off and well educated. I found out that her parents were successful people too, much like my parents. They're both in literature though. She worked as a bilingual secretary in a NGO, then she moved to Manchester (the train ride was where she got an idea for Harry Potter) and started writing from there. Later on her mother died, she divorced her husband and was jobless with a child to feed. Truthfully, I find the trip to Manchester a whole turmoil for her life. It had lead her to all these difficulties, yet it also started the thing that solved it all. So for her daughter, she went on writing Harry Potter, until where she is now.
So she made a bad decision, but she stayed at her stance and did what she had always done best. Simply said, none of them had yellow bricks laid in front of them. None of them had a planned future of what they should have been doing or something they did but decided to turn to writing later on. They had all been writers since forever.
Okay maybe I should look at it in a more logical way. I'm from Malaysia, not the States or England. My English can never compare to theirs, and my chances of getting published internationally is like one in a million. So publishing in Malaysia can be really commercialized sometimes when you're successful. Like that Ain Maisarah person. I've read her books before, and I understand why so many people like it but when you're starting to write too many...
Okay maybe I'm being prejudiced again. But then I've never heard of a Malaysian writer who wrote fiction in English and gotten a lot of praise for it. I've seen a lot of Chinese Malaysian writers though. Thing is many of these people are successful because they write about Malaysian stuff. Will they accept it when someone who had never even been to Japan, writes about teenagers in Japan? Based on whatever she saw on TV or the internet rather than actual facts that the learned? Knowing Malaysia, mesti kontroversi. Masuk Melodi with the headlines 'Tak bangga dengan Malaysia' when what it's all about is actually interest and that varies in many people, it doesn't depend on their nationality.
That just shows even more how prejudiced I am ><"
Okay so maybe I'm going a bit too far to talk about the future. I mean I could always be like my dad. He's still writing. The only difference between us is that he writes about education in Malay (well if it's needed in English he just translates it back lol. He's bilingual, no prob.) while I write fiction in English. So I can go get a PhD too!
So back to my civics project. I have no idea what is actually needed - an essay? Just little points that we'll have to talk about later in class? But I sure am glad Ms. Foo gave me something to think about. It might not exactly be what she was aiming for, I mean she told us to search for how they got to where they are and all of the people I searched on practically just followed their heart and I doubt that's something very clever to say in class unless you're in a heart-moving movie.
But I did found out something else, which is that to do something that you love isn't as easy as it looks like. You go through a lot of hardship no matter what you're doing. What I'm doing now is just building up potential. I can do sub-science or arts stream and subjects can still be as hard. I'm afraid that I don't want to regret all that potential build and decide to go on in science stream later on with life and never actually write. But I doubt it. I'll write eventually, I'm sure of it. Just, making a living out of it still looks... impassible?
Where am I going with this? So it won't be easy. Nothing's easy. Whether my parents will be happy with what I wanna do later in the future have nothing to do with them. I have to stop being concerned with what they think because even if they have opinions on what I wanna do they want me to do what I wanna do in the end. They'll support me, because that's how they're like since forever. Anyone can be whatever they want to be, and I want to be like Sarah Dessen - I want to be appreciated, if not by all, but by a group of people who finds my writings worth reading. I want to be like Cathy Cassidy, whose writings could be read by all ages, and never be forgotten for its originality. And to be that, I just have to be myself.
I still don't have a conclusion to tell Ms. Foo though.