The Good Place – A ‘fundamentally flawed’ system

If you’ve been keeping your eye on The Good Place, a TV series on NBC, then you’d know that the final season, Season 4 is about to come to an end. The show explores many philosophical topics, but I want to talk about their exploration of how a person is qualified ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

A quick background if you’re new to the comedy, no spoilers here – Eleanor Shellstrop wakes up to find herself in ‘The Good Place’, the show’s interpretation of heaven. She recalls her past self on earth and realises that she was not a good person – in fact, she calls herself ‘Arizona trashbag’. So she knows that they’ve made a mistake in placing her in The Good Place. Things start to fall apart (literally) when she acts badly. Pretty soon, Eleanor comes to the decision that she has to learn how to be good to earn a place in The Good Place.

According to the show, how people are judged throughout their lives on earth is through a point system – whenever they do something good, some points are added, and whenever they do something bad, points are deducted. The highest scorers make it into The Good Place.

In the later seasons, [MINOR SPOILER] one of the characters come to the conclusion that this system of determining who makes it into The Good Place is ‘fundamentally flawed’.

And I full-heartedly agree.

The reason is simple – no one can ever save themselves through their own works. As the TV show has demonstrated, the standards are too high. But let’s take a step away from its fictional world and into the real one – the one lovingly created by God, who intends for us (created by Him as well) to have a relationship with God and live under His rule.

Yet we have ignored God and desired to be our own ruler. Such a desire to be God is the root of sin. And since we’re sinners, we have fallen short of God’s perfect standard, and cannot redeem ourselves by our own efforts. And, because God is just, He cannot let our transgressions against Him go unpunished – we will suffer His wrath and eternal death – an eternal separation from God. Since God is the source of all life and light, then an eternal separation would mean eternal death and darkness. And not just that; God’s wrath would be upon us, and that is far worse than anything. Imagine experiencing the rightful wrath of the Creator of our universe.

So, while we still have time (who knows) on earth, how might we achieve God’s perfect standard and also right our ruined relationship with God?

Can it be achieved by doing good works, hoping that they will cancel out the bad, like the point system in The Good Place? The answer – nope.

Ephesians 2:1-5 tells us:

‘And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…’

If we were dead in our trespasses and sins, how could we help ourselves if we were dead? Paul (the author of the letter to the Ephesians) says that we once followed ‘the course of this world’, and ‘were by nature children of wrath’. If our very nature were of wrath, then every ‘good work’ we do would be in vain.

Then the only way to be reconciled with God and be made pure, is for someone perfect and pure to sacrificially take our place and suffer God’s punishment meant for sinners – which refers to all of us.

And that someone is Jesus Christ.

Jesus, fully man and fully God, lived perfectly under God’s rule on earth. In 33AD, he walked willingly to the cross that he may take our sins upon his shoulders and die for us. He took the wrath of God meant as punishment for us upon himself.

But Jesus did not stay dead. No, that would be futile, because since our sinful selves were crucified along with Jesus, we would have remained dead with Him. But that is not the case. God raised Jesus from the dead, so that those found in Him (that is, those who believe in Jesus) would be raised along with Him.

So, taking a closer look at Ephesians 2:4-5:

‘But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…’

It means that we are saved from eternal death and God’s wrath only through God’s grace, through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

When Jesus willingly took our punishment, he became sin personified. He faced the ultimate rejection from God for us, so that even God the Father turned His face away from His son, causing Jesus to cry out on the cross, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ in Mark 15:34, which in Aramaic means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

This is so that we may never have to utter these devastating words, for by Jesus’ death and resurrection, He has ensured that those found in Him will never be forsaken, and will have an eternity of being united with Christ completely to look forward to.

Let’s look further on in Ephesians 2:8-9:

‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.’

This means that we did absolutely nothing to deserve such a gift of grace from God. Even our faith in Him is not a contribution to our salvation, but rather a response to His salvation. And so should our good works be as well.

This is stated in Ephesians 2:10:

‘For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.’

It means that no one may boast in their own works for it achieves nothing. Instead, we, as God’s creation, His workmanship, have been created for the purpose of doing His good works, which God has set out before us. These good works are our response to God’s gift – salvation through Jesus Christ.

So, if you’re still with me, it is only through faith in Jesus Christ that we can be saved – forgiven of our sins and made right with God. It is not by our works that we may save ourselves and be ‘good enough’, because not even a ‘good enough’ person is able to right the wrong he has committed against God, for all have fallen short of God’s perfect standard. And God cannot lower his perfect standards for us either, because that would make Him imperfect, and He would not be God. But He knows that we cannot meet His holy standards, and so has sent His son Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and right our relationship with Him.

The Good Place is an example of how everyone recognises that no one is perfect, and all have fallen short of being completely sinless. Fortunately, the one and only answer to life is simple – Jesus Christ. It is only through him that we have been saved and can be united with God.

This is the most important truth to me – if you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me, or drop a comment below for discussion! 🙂

Fairy Glens and Musings

I’m back with another poem for your languid perusal!

It was written based on this photo, which I took at the Fairy Glen at Isle of Skye, in Scotland.

Fairy glen pic edited

I am by no means a photographer, but I do so try my best.

Scotland is absolutely beautiful; I cling to the memories of walking amidst castle ruins and rambling aimlessly down rolling, dramatic landscapes.

Have you been there before, or perhaps live there? Do share your experiences! 🙂 And I hope you enjoy my poem.

G’day!

The Faery Ring

The Faery Ring

Some time ago, I went on an amazing trip to Scotland. I visited the Fairy Glen in Isle of Skye, and the picture above is evidence of that. No doubt, I am no photographer, nor did I go at dawn … Continue reading

Fish Eyes

I’m back with a poem, in which I ponder our blinkered existence. On that happy thought, away we go! Fish Eyes I once crossed a frozen lake at the Swedish border. Wind whistled over the white lands; frost feathered the … Continue reading

A poem for your perusal

Hi! Here’s a poem for your perusal, definitely longer than the previous one!

It’s called Fish Eyes, which sounds really strange. Let’s hope you can make some sense out of it.

Some updates about my life will be coming up soon, so keep an eye on this space.

Have a good one! 🙂

Bed and Breakfast

Here is a fun little poem using the iambic rhythm (4-3-4-3) that randomly popped up inside my head. Bed and Breakfast There was a man who overstayed and did not pay his dues; we steamed his rugs and then him … Continue reading

Short Story Alert

So news flash – I’m alive and still posting things. Here is a little short story to liven up your day!

It is a short sci-fi piece, written many years ago. I found it twiddling its thumbs idly in my computer, and in an impulsive act, posted it up on this blog. I hope I don’t regret this.

So… happy reading! More things to come.

If you’re looking to read something more, check out the most important message ever. I promise it’s not an exaggeration.

Toodles!

Camelot, I Will Return – a short story

Hi there! I hope you have been having a good day. If you fancy a short little read, here is something for you!

As you’ve probably guessed from the title, it is a tale from the Arthurian Legends. Yet, you will find the characters not quite the same as before! Also, you might be wondering where my old short story series ‘The Eventful Life of Morgan Le Fay’ went. I’ve taken it down for editing.

But anyway, this short little piece centres around Morgan Le Fay, an enchantress from King Arthur’s court. I won’t go into further detail, so, toodle-pip!

What it means to be loved

Hey, you. I’m back, after an agonizingly long hiatus. I did post a poem a few weeks ago, but other than that, it has been a dry spell. No, not that I’ve stopped writing; rather, I just can’t find a right topic, or something to discuss on this section of my blog – The Life of Me. It’s been pretty usual and routine, really. And that is just sad, isn’t it? Heh.

I guess I could talk about the new Harry Potter film, The Crimes of Grindelwald. But I have not watched it, so no need to worry about spoilers here. As a Harry Potter geek, I like to compare the ‘first dark lord’ with the second, AKA Voldemort. Grindelwald and Voldemort have very different childhoods, yet they both became ambitious and power-hungry people, and killed muggles for sport. At this point, I find it pertinent to note that I am not speaking with the authority of an expert in psychology, or anything fanciful like that. I am just a basic Harry Potter geek. Emphasis on basic.

But as I was saying, the backstories of both villians are vastly different – Grindelwald grew up with friends and family, while Voldemort had none of that. In that sense, could Voldemort’s actions be attributed to his upbringing? This topic has been greatly discussed, and I have read many theories, of how Voldemort cannot love because he was conceived under a love potion, which was a symbol of how he came from ‘a loveless union’, as JK Rowling put it. She adds that everything would have changed if he had been raised by Merope (his mother) and had been loved by her. Yet, we know that she died after giving birth to him in the orphanage.

I guess this ties in with what I’m trying to say – that we can all receive and reciprocate love because we have been first loved by someone. As a Christian, this resonates strongly with me as we realise that we can show love towards others because of God’s great love that was given to us.

God lovingly created us and the world, and made us that we may rule the world under Him. He made us such that we may have a relationship with Him. Yet, we tried to do things our own way, and made ourselves rulers, turning away from God’s perfect rule. But no human is perfect, as Romans 3:10 tells us ‘None is righteous, no, not one’. And so, our sinning, that is, our rebellion against God, has made a mess out of the world. As seen from the state of today’s world – broken relationships, abuse, and all that – we truly have made a mess out of it all.

But God won’t let us rebel against Him forever, and the consequence of sin is death. As we rebel against Him, our previously perfect relationship with God has been broken. When we sin, we are telling God to go away, because we want to do things our way, and not God’s way. But God is the source of all good and life, and when He leaves, all that is left is evil and death – a desolating place. Also, because God is just, He cannot stand by and watch us make a mess of the world – His world. We are to face His punishment – death.

But because God is also loving, He sent His son, Jesus, who was fully man and fully God, to die for our sins, and to take His punishment. I have known this fact for a long time, yet, I still marvel at this great and amazing and honestly quite unimaginable love of God. That he had made plans to save us from death, even as we were going against Him. But really, who on earth has that vast love? Honestly, I don’t think I’d be willing to die for just one stranger. Yet, Jesus loved us so much that he died for everyone.

1 Peter 3:18 tells us:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…’

Jesus was the perfect and unblemished sacrifice – because he never once committed a sin, although he was fully man and experienced the same troubles as us. He was the only one who lived under God’s rule and didn’t deserve to die. Yet, he chose to take our place, taking God’s punishment that was meant for us. His suffering was once and final, cancelling the need for future sacrifices, as he was perfect and did not deserve death.

But in doing so, Jesus mended the broken relationship between God and us. We can now pray, as in, speak, directly to God because we are now made right with Him!

1 Peter 1:3 tells us:

‘In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.’

It didn’t just end in Jesus’ death. God raised Jesus to life after the third day, thus conquering death (the consequence of sin). Jesus now offers us new life, and will return to judge us. And because Jesus has taken God’s wrath upon his own shoulders and pardoned us, we can be confident that we will be acceptable to God in face of judgement. We can be sure of this, because we did nothing previously in order to be pardoned of our sins, and yet Jesus still died for us.

But how should we receive this?

We can go back to rejecting God and trying to run our lives our own way, but the consequence of that would be as aforementioned – facing the condemnation of God, and death.

Or, we can acknowledge that Jesus is our ruler and live under his rule, knowing that we are blameless now that Jesus has died for us and has been resurrected. The consequence is that we will not face God’s wrath, but will be given eternal life instead.

John 3:36 says:

‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.’

This probably sounds rather frightening and threatening and confronting to you. Or maybe you are already striving your best to live under God’s rule. Or perhaps you’ve made a loud snort of derision, and dismissed this as a load of hogwash. I mean, who has ever heard of a guy coming back from the dead, after three whole days?!

It sounds impossible to us humans, but to me, God is so sovereign that such rules do not apply to Him, as He was the one who made them. And then again, there have been many eye-witnesses of people who saw Jesus after his death.

So, I think that God has shown us such a great love, that we can’t do anything else but to share it with others, and also sharing this hopeful message that all is not lost (the gospel), to those who may be unaware. As is emphasised consistently throughout the bible:

‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ (John 13:34-35)

If you want to know more about the gospel, or if you find what you’ve read familiar, it’s because it comes from Two Ways to Live‘s presentation of the gospel. Give it a peek, because there are illustrations too! 🙂

I am not here to change minds or to convince you of anything, because I really don’t have that ability! I just think that we are capable of showing love because others have shown us love, in one way or another, and as a Christian, this points me towards God’s amazing love. What do you think? If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a message!:)

The Perfect Pair

All in all we’d done quite a good job — the sunglasses, the workers’ vests, the guns — purchased from an alcoholic slob. We’d even swiped an extra magazine from the desk when he was smoking pot. We were perfect … Continue reading

A Christmassy Treat

Hello

Merry Christmas to you. As a Christmas treat, here is a short story, The White Stag, that you may enjoy!

There will be more updates coming for The Eventful Life of Morgan Le Fay, fret not! They will appear in a day or two, so keep your eyes peeled.

Toodle pip! And enjoy your turkey 🙂

 

What am I?

I slither down the drain, Hitting the watery depths with no pain I can smell things a mile away And can be smelled just in about the same way I am the King of my unwanted empire, Wanted though, with … Continue reading

The Lonely Boat

Author’s note: Hi! Here’s a poem for you… I actually gave this poem loads of thought. This poem stemmed from a painting I created in my head, and then my muse tickled me into writing this. The first words that … Continue reading

The Remedy for Verboseness

If I could give you a tonic, That could make you laconic, Then perhaps it’ll cure my ear ache, And reduce the buzzing in my head. You won’t go on and on, In an attempt to explain an un-wrong, And … Continue reading

Help is required!

Hello! 🙂

I require a small favour from you.

If you are feeling particularly kind today, could you help me with this?

Log on to Facebook and go to this link: https://www.facebook.com/AllInYWF

Scroll down the page and look to the left, you will see a section “Posts to Page”.

Click that, then scroll down and click “See more stories” (You might have to click this two or three times)

LIKE the three posts by Mildred Ang (which is me, by the way)

Thank you for spending that few minutes of your time! 🙂

If you were curious, this is some writing competition, where you have to write a complete story in exactly 55 words. Cool, huh? Apparently, one of the prizes goes to those with the most likes! So there, you’ve helped me tremendously. Thanks a mil!


Psst, I know I haven’t been updating my stories, especially The Eventful Life of Morgan Le Fay. A thousand apologies, but I’ve been busy with something called “life”. I hope to update soon! Toodle pip! 🙂

Sarcasm

Author’s note: So, a poem on sarcasm. This poem only represents the icky part of sarcasm. I think sarcasm can be really, really funny sometimes, if used in small, cautious amounts. This poem might not be meaningful or anything, but … Continue reading

Freshly Nibbled Update

Hello! Pencil Nibbler has a new poem for you! It’s called The Remedy for Verboseness. If you’ve ever had to deal with verbose people, well, this one is for you! 🙂

Anyway, Christmas is coming… and Pencil Nibbler has a Christmas special for you! It might come in the form of a short story, or it can be a Christmas edition that adds to The Eventful Life of Morgan Le Fay, a series of short stories set in the Arthurian times. So keep your eyes peeled and your ears pricked for it!

Happy Christmas!

Setting the Pace

I do not dabble in pointless blathering: Daily Prompt: Pace Oddity

If you could slow down an action that usually zooms by, or speed up an event that normally drags on, which would you choose, and why?

I would choose to speed things up a little.

I can think of a dozen or more highly- unpleasant situations where I would want to speed time up… Like say, during the time spent at the dentist’s, or like a really boring science lesson, when five minutes feel like an eternity. (sorry, science lovers!)

Granted, there are many situations where we would like to slow the time, for instance, the time spent eating a particularly delicious ice cream, or during sleep time where you would fancy a couple more hours of shut- eye.

However, these savoury moments can simply be replicated, you know what I mean? Like buying another ice cream, or catching up on sleep during the weekends.

I think the choice really depends on the percentage of pleasant moments in your life, versus the unpleasant moments. If you feel that life has more pleasant moments than unpleasant ones, then choosing to slow down an action that usually zooms by would be clever of you. Likewise for the other situation.

Nonetheless, the choice still rests upon your shoulders. But what’s the phrase again?

Ah, yes. Choose wisely.

Beware, beware of Wannabes!

This post does not sprout from barren ground: Daily Prompt: Doppelgänger Alert

You step into an acquaintance’s house for the first time, and discover that everything — from the furniture, to the books, to the art on the wall — is identical to your home. What happens next?

Well, this is pretty disturbing.

It either means that this acquaintance of mine has exactly the same tastes as I (which is sort of weird already), or else something is seriously wrong… I mean, there is this possibility that I could return to my own home and find everything missing, right?

Let’s hope that the address isn’t the same too, if not I could go crazy, and maybe file some lawsuit or something. Somehow, I don’t think this acquaintance of mine would be staying as an ‘aquaintance’ any longer…

Just to be sure that I wouldn’t be pointing fingers at the wrong person, I would question this person very, very closely. Like where did you get your sofa from? Or where did you buy that painting? And when did you buy those books?

If the answers are dodgy, I might have a full- blown panic attack and rush back to my home to make sure everything is still there. Or worse still, I could freak out right there and then and lose my head completely.

It is times like these when I’m thankful that people don’t have super powers. I mean, like mind- reading powers (but honestly, why would this ‘aquaintance’ choose to buy the same things as I?) or like those freaky dual personality things where this ‘aquaintance’ is just another me with a different face. Or like a shape- shifter come to take over my life. Yikes!

This daily post actually reminds me of Coraline by Neil Gaiman. The main character, an inquisitive girl named Coraline, crawls through a doorway that is blocked by bricks in the day, yet opens into a tunnel at night. When she emerges from the tunnel, she finds herself in a room that looks like the one she has just left, with the same mantelpiece, same sofa, and the same painting. Creepy, huh?

The point is, I hope I never, ever walk into a house that looks exactly like mine, unless it’s my own house!

Are you of the same opinion too? 🙂

One- Way Street

This post did not spring from uncertain origins: One-Way Street

Congrats! You’re the owner of a new time machine. The catch? It comes in two models, each traveling one way only: the past OR the future. Which do you choose, and why?

I choose the past. Like, obviously.

The future (after watching too many science fiction movies) seems most perilous and bleak. And panic- inducing, I might add. Imagine racing through endless corridors with a beast closing in on you (The Maze Runner) or sprinting through dense vegetation, scratched, bloody and filthy, due to the fact that deranged people are after your life (The Hunger Games)!

Of course, that is only my opinion. The past, too, holds many dangers. For example, I stepped in and specified the time machine to take me to the medieval ages. What if I arrived right smack in the middle of an ancient skirmish? Most likely, now I come to think about it…

That would be risking my neck not even two seconds after entering the time frame! What a pity.

Calling forth the adventurous ole me, I would prefer the past, because maybe I could read up about that time era before stepping into it. Just to be safe, you know.

On the other hand, although the future is unpredictable (at least, in my opinion), it has its uses.

Say, for instance, I want to know if I would pass a major exam that will happen in the next couple of months. I could nip in and out of the time machine, and soothe my anxiousness. If I should foresee that I would fail, I would abolish the last minute study plan (who doesn’t have those?) and start as soon as possible. Because, the future is not set in stone, right?

But what would happen to the “life is full of surprises” thing if we just skipped ahead into the future?

Being a completely unadventurous person who loves to laze in bed all day, with the only thing to look forward to is the next meal or a thick novel, I would choose to remain in the present, for the present.

No need to look for trouble, yes?

The Incompetent Intruder

I do not dabble in the fine art of blabbering: Greetings, Stranger

You’re sitting at a café when a stranger approaches you. This person asks what your name is, and, for some reason, you reply. The stranger nods, “I’ve been looking for you.” What happens next?

Ok, let’s clear some things up first. If a stranger were to approach me and ask for my name, I would just tilt my head up at them, raise a sardonic eyebrow, and keep the silence long and tense, and wait for him to break it.

But yeah, because “for some reason” I reply, the conversation will proceed like this:

“I’ve been looking for you,” the man says quietly, his face shadowed by the dim café lights hanging above the table.

“Who are you?” I ask, muscles tense, poised as if to run. If he so much as makes a move towards me, I will knock his feet from under him. I give the table a casual glance—my sandwich on a plate, a knife and fork, which I have been conveniently holding.

Maybe, I will stand, and use my fork to stab his eyes out, and then he’ll be reaching out to deliver a punch… But I will be ducking away, grabbing the back of my chair to take a swipe at him… As he falls, I will stuff my sandwich in my mouth, take the plate (it’s the heavy kind, mind you) and clock him on the back of his head. Then, I will put a large tip on the table, and leave.

Yes, I will do that. Satisfied, I glance at the man with bold eyes.

He looks about with shifty eyes, before he drops into the seat opposite mine.

Change of plans.

He stares at me with an unreadable gaze, and I gaze back for a second, examining his face under the light. He has straight eyebrows, wide eyes, and a straight nose. All together quite decent looking. But looks can be deceiving. I wrench away my gaze as my eyes dart about, looking about the café to see if he has brought any loonies.

“Don’t try to fight me,” the man says softly. I raise an eyebrow. He can read minds?

“Yes, I can,” he replies.

By this time, my eyes are narrowed to slits.

What do you want? I pose this silent question in my head.

“I have a job. A job to kill you,” he says, eyes unwavering.

Oh yeah? Why? I tilt my chin up at him.

“You are a threat. A threat to the mind- reading community, to my people,” he replies evenly.

“Then why come and face me in the open? You could have easily stabbed me from behind,” I say out loud, with feigned calmness.

“No, I can’t. I’ve tried it a dozen times already,” the man says resignedly, examining his fingers.

“What? Are you kidding? I didn’t even know anything!” I snort, on the point of hysteria.

“That’s why, I am here to ask you if you want to join us,” the man says, a smile forming on his face.

“Wait. How am I a threat to you people?” I narrow my eyes.

“You are one of a kind. You can break off into random actions that surpasses the speed of thought. You are known as erratic, or just simply random. That’s why it’s hard to read you at times. You see, we monitor all citizens. We are the great eye, the one that sees all but remains unseen, the one behind everything—these are just a few terms that we go by. We are—Hang on, I was not supposed to tell you that!” The man exclaims suddenly, slapping a hand over his mouth. His formerly placid expression turns to a horrified one.

He is so distressed that his voice reaches me mentally, as if he has accidentally pushed his thoughts in my direction.

I feel a grin stretching my lips. “Well, it has been a nice chat. Thank you for that illuminating conversation.”

Then, without pausing for him to respond, I flip the entire table up in his face (not quite my former plan, I know), but not before rescuing my sandwich first. Cutlery, napkins and my glass of water go flying, and everyone turns to stare.

There is a shocked silence and everyone stills—a piece of tuna from a woman’s spoon falls onto her lap with a soft splat.

“Great, you are footing the bill. And next time, ask your people to send someone more competent!” I snap at the man, who is lying on the floor and trying to worm away from under the table, futilely, I might add.

I walk away, flashing a smile at the astonished waiter. And there, dear readers, begins my adventure of evading these mind- reading loonies, of being constantly on the run, moving from town to town, using cash to pay for stuff to avoid a paper trail, and eventually, to overthrow the mind- reading freaks and free the people from their rule.

Well, you know… the usual stuff.

Sounds exciting, right?

To know or not to know…

This post does not spring out idly from nowhere: Daily prompt: Advantage of Foresight

You’ve been granted the power to predict the future! The catch — each time you use your power, it costs you one day (as in, you’ll live one day less). How would you use this power, it at all?

I think I will use this power just once, when I need it most, like in a really desperate, uncertain situation.

I wouldn’t do it more than once not because of that one day it would cost me (it’s still painful, nonetheless), but because if I predicted my own future too many times, won’t life become too boring and lack surprises? (Well, the pleasant ones, anyway)

Or even worse, what if I predicted some really horrible fate that will befall me in a year’s time, say, I will die in a car crash, or a huge signboard warning people not to walk under signboards lest they should fall on them does really fall on my head and kill me? No doubt, that would be an ironic and splendid way to go, but still…

I would be spending the remainder of that one year not daring to walk on the street, or not sitting in cars, and just staying in home. I might just die of boredom then…

The point is, the future might not be written in stone (the cliche phrase in that kind of storybook… you know what I mean). Besides, if we predicted our futures so often, there will obviously be bad days that we will see in the scrying pool/ crystal ball/ whatever tool you use to see the future in, and that will result in that horrible, horrible feeling—foreboding.

And that just reminds me of Pandora’s box. The reason why humans could still live and hope for a better day after that wretched box was opened by Pandora was she had closed it in time, just before the last of the evil stuff came out, which was… wait for it… yep, foreboding.

Well, that’s just one version of the story. But you see, this predicting the future stuff is sticky business. I think I’d rather not know about bad things that might befall me, instead of knowing and dreading the day.

That’s just my take on it. I won’t say it’s two cents worth, because it might be one cent, or three. You never know these things. So, would you rather foretell all the stuff that will happen to you, or float in the blissfulness of ignorance? 🙂

There goes your muse!

I do not invest my time in unwanted drivel: Writer’s Block Party

When was the last time you experienced writer’s block? What do you think brought it about — and how did you dig your way out of it?

You know you’ve gotten that horrible illness that is called the Writer’s Block, when you start writing silly things that don’t belong in your story, or when the supply of words run out in your head, and you lose interest in the story you are working on.

When I get a writer’s block, it pretty much goes like this:

 

 

 

Well, you get what I mean. The blank sheet of paper mocks me, and reflects the state of my mind, which is, incidentally, a blank.

Sometimes, I lose interest in the story I am working on, when it seems like it is difficult to continue the adventure I’ve put my characters through. I’ll simply go off to work on another half- completed story. This makes me feel guilty for leaving the characters in my first story stuck in limbo. It’s like sticking them in a large quagmire and leaving them to sink.

I’ve tried a couple of ways to entice my muse to return, and I’ll tell you the best two that work for me.

The first is to go and read your favourite storybook. No kidding. No matter how many times you’ve read that book, just go back to it and read it again. I’ve done that many times before, and it works, for me, at least. My favourite book is The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, and I just read the four books in the series over and over again. I think I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve read them.

Anyway, I can always go back to my writing when I’m done with those books. Maybe you should try it too! 🙂

Another method is to reread whatever you’ve written in your story so far, and perhaps you will hop back on to your train of thought, as I have done in many instances.

So, I have said what I’ve wanted to say. May your muse return to you! 🙂

The Old Man

My ramblings do not originate from thin air: Daily prompt: Sudden Downpour

It was sunny when you left home, so you didn’t take an umbrella. An hour later, you’re caught in a torrential downpour. You run into the first store you can find — it happens to be a dark, slightly shabby antique store, full of old artifacts, books, and dust. The shop’s ancient proprietor walks out of the back room to greet you. Tell us what happens next!

‘Greetings, my young friend.’ The old man with wrinkled skin, akin to that of paper, says. A shabby coat is drabbed over frail and slightly hunched shoulders. ‘Fate has brought you here today, even if you do not believe it.’

I am already shaking my head, sprinkling rain water everywhere. This place seems so old, so strange. Even the dust swirling through the air takes on a weird pattern. Everything seems wrong here, although I can’t quite place my finger on it. Alarm bells are ringing in my head.

‘Come, you must be cold and weary. Sit by the fire for a while.’ The old man continues, hobbling to the rear of the shop, entering a secret door that is painted the same flaking brown as the rest of the wall.

I glance at the pouring rain outside, before sighing. Left with no choice, I tread lightly over, wood creaking beneath each step. To my astonishment, a pile of wood sits in the fireplace, just waiting to be lit.

The old man bends down to the fire, and with a snap of his fingers, a flame appears between his forefinger and thumb. He calmly sets the wooden logs aflame.

What?! Did he just do… magic? But that’s impossible! There must have been a match stick somewhere…

The fire casts warm shadows in the musty room. There is a bear skin rug placed in front of the fire, and over it stands a round and short oaken table. A saggy old couch sits at the side. Facing this couch, a rocking chair is positioned, slightly turned towards the fire.

It is there that he sits with a sigh, before I settle reluctantly onto the couch. Slightly unnerved, I gaze about the room, eyes wide as I take in the shelves of dust covered books. My leg muscles are tense, poised as if to run.

The old man examines me with bright eyes, flames dancing within each pupil. I drop my gaze hastily to the ground.

‘So what will it be?’ He muses. ‘Do you want your fortune read, or perhaps, a book? Or a crystal ball, eh?’

I start violently, before finding my voice. Despite the danger vibes this place is giving me, my curiousity is piqued. I say in a quiet voice, ‘I don’t mind hearing my fortune.’

‘Are you certain, child? It takes one courage to request that.’ The old man arches an eyebrow, a half- smile of amusement curving his lips.

I wrinkle my nose. It sounds as if he had lifted that line out of a book.

‘Yeah, go ahead.’ I say.

He heaves himself out of the chair, disappearing a moment as he enters a back room, and returning again, with a package the size of a book in his hands.

He places it on the table, before pulling on a string to unwrap the package.

‘These are old and ancient bones.’ The old man says. The yellowing paper falls back to reveal… three white pieces, cylindrical and about four inches long. I grimace at them.

‘Behold! These are the bones of—’ Here, the old man pronounces a word, but it sounds as if he is clearing his throat.

‘Uh, that sounds made up.’ I can’t help commenting.

The old man ignores me, concentrating hard on the bones. Then, with a swift and fluid movement, he gathers and scatters them onto the table.

There is a moment of silence as he contemplates the three pieces of bone.

Then suddenly, he gasps, edging away from the table.

I lean forward to study the three bones, frowning slightly at them.

‘What is it?’ I ask quickly.

‘Oh dear, I am too old for this… too old.’ The old man is muttering to himself.

‘Don’t say that. People are always saying that in story books.’ I snap, glaring at him.

He gives himself a little shake, as if surfacing from his fortune- telling.

‘You have quite an unfortunate fortune, for lack of a better word.’ The old man sighs tiredly. ‘The first bone says that you will face terrible peril in an unknown world.’ He points to the next one. ‘Whether you pass this peril will affect what happens next.’ The old man points at the third bone. ‘You will also meet someone who could harm, or help you.’

‘Wow. That’s great. That’s just being deliberately vague!’ I stand abruptly. ‘I think I should be heading back soon. Maybe the rain has stopped.’

I rise hastily from the couch, hurrying out of the room before the old man can say anything.

I stop short at the entrance of the shop.

Where are the sky scrapers that I have grown up around? Where are the paved streets that I walk down everyday?

A dirt track of gravel, lined with lush greenery, traces down the path. Across this road, stone cottages sit side by side, puffing out smoke from their chimneys. There is a sudden crunch of gravel, and a horse, pulling a carriage, lumbers languidly past the shop.

‘An unknown world, indeed.’ I murmur, too apalled at my predicament to say anything else.

‘Ah, the first part has been explained!’ The old man says cheerfully from behind, making me jump.

‘You, explain this! Why am I in the past?’ I growl, whipping around to skewer the old man with a death glare.

‘Now, what is the modern saying, eh?’ The old man pauses to think. ‘Ah, yes, I’ve got it! Shit happens.’ He says triumphantly.

At this point, I am so angry, and so afraid, that I am tongue- tied. I can only stare helplessly at him.

‘My young friend, do not fear. All you have to do, is to believe in yourself.’ The old man says kindly. ‘When all else fails, you must believe in this.’ He places a hand over his heart.

‘That’s so horribly cliché!’ I snap, before stomping out from the store. I’ve had enough of this old man.

My feet crunches on the gravel as I stalk down the path in high dudgeon, daring the world to throw me anything. Come what may, I am going to find my way back, and the old man had better hope that I don’t meet him again, if not…

***

That’s part one of the story! Did you enjoy that? Part two will be coming out… Nah, just kidding. 🙂 What do you think of this short little adventure? Would you have asked for your fortune to be told?

Freshly Nibbled Updates

Hello! 🙂

I know it has been a long time (about a week, exactly), but the final installation of my pirate’s tale is up! 🙂

So, now that the entire short story, Plunderella, A Pirate’s Tale is on Pencil Nibbler, you may enjoy it fully.

Do not despair, if you think this is the end of short stories. Because… yup, you guessed it, there is another one coming up! And another! And another! And – ! Ok, you get it.

The point is, there will be many more, even as I am preparing a novel for publication.

Now, to the part which you are waiting for: what’s coming up next? 🙂

I have a lengthy tale set in the Arthurian times, and I can’t wait to share it with you! (Real soon, I promise. We are talking about a few days time here) They are actually a series of short stories about the eventful happenings in King Arthur’s court, and adventures across Camelot, and even Avalon… So buckle up, and be prepared to be swept away into the time when King Arthur was, well, King.

Happy reading! 😀

Toodle pip! 🙂

 

Ideal Story Worlds

I do not engage in foolish babbling: Daily Post: Fiction Intruder

Go down the rabbit hole with Alice; play quidditch with Harry Potter; float down the river with Huck Finn… If you could choose three fictional events or adventures to experience yourself, what would they be?

How often have I imagined myself leaping straight into a storybook, to join the legendary heroes on their journey? There are so many story worlds I could leap into, but I think the following three are my favourite…

I don’t mind leaping into the Lord of the Rings, maybe at the time when Sauron has been destroyed, like at the end of the Third Age of Middle Earth. (Honestly, why should I torture myself by entering Middle Earth while the Land of Mordor still stands firm and tall?)

I would enjoy living a peaceful life as a hobbit, from The Shire. I suppose my days will be filled with singing tales of the heroic Frodo and Samwise the Brave, and watching the sun set from my hobbit hole, as I smoke a pipe of weed (one of the hobbit’s pastimes).

My second story world would be Harry Potter… And you can probably guess, at the time when Voldemort has been defeated. Heh. I think lessons in Hogwarts might be tough, because there are lots of memory work, like memorizing spells and learning to brew potions the correct way. But still, what an experience it will be!

Imagine flying on a broomstick, in the middle of a quidditch match! Imagine stepping into Hogsmeade, and buying stuff from Zonko’s, or even better, Weasley Wizard Wheezes! Imagine gulping down mugs of Butterbeer… I’m going cross- eyed with glee right now.

The third story world I would like to jump into is the Inheritance Cycle. (Have you read it?) It’s about a young farm boy, named Eragon, who found a dragon’s egg. It hatched, and together, he and his dragon, Saphira, embarked on an epic journey to defeat the evil empire. Yep. Anyway, I want to be an elf in Alagaesia (the story world), spending my immortal life treading lightly amidst the dusky glades of Ellesmera. (Elf capital in Alagaesia) I would sing my house from a large tree (read book to understand reference ;)) and practice archery everyday, and sword- fighting. I would attend every Blood- oath Celebration, which is held every century. (No kidding. We elves are immortal, remember?)

So, I’ve rambled enough for a time… Do our ideal story worlds collide? 🙂

Another Freshly Nibbled Update!

Greetings! This post heralds the arrival of another update on my pirate story, Plunderella, A Pirate’s Tale.

Happy reading, and don’t forget to leave your mark, in the form of comments on the pirate’s tale! 🙂

Sail on, my friends!

Freshly Nibbled Updates

Hello!

I’ve recently realised that my short story department has been starving. So… Here’s the pirate’s tale that I’ve promised! (If you recall)

This story has elements taken from the fairytale, Cinderella, in the aspect that the roles of certain key characters have been extracted from Cinderella and used in my story.

For example, we have the fairy god- mother, who is supposed to provide help to the main character at one point in the story. We have the wicked step- mother too, who is the main antagonist in the story… Let’s see if you can spot them! 🙂

Ok, so I should stop babbling, and cut to the chase:

Short stories > Plunderella, A Pirate’s Tale

Happy reading! 🙂

My Very Own Mansion

I do not engage in ceaseless burbling: Daily Prompt: Reviving Bricks

You just inherited a dilapidated, crumbling-down grand mansion in the countryside. Assuming money is no issue, what do you do with it?

I would be extremely delighted. I think I would live in it.

If money were not an issue, I’d fix it up and make sure bits of ceiling wouldn’t fall onto me when I slept. Among other things, I would install plumbing; cause if I had inherited a really old mansion, there wouldn’t be any plumbing, huh? Imagine going to a well to draw water, carrying many buckets back to the mansion, and then heating it up over a fire, just to take a bath. Horrid, if you ask me.

I would go medieval as well. I would host random balls and invite lords and ladies over. I would organize jousting competitions in my courtyard. I would keep a barn with horses, and go horse- riding everyday. I would have an archery range built in the meadows just right behind the mansion…
I think it would be splendid if living in the mansion actually took me back in time to the medieval period. It would be sort of fun. But I doubt I would fit in there. (As I said, the plumbing)

Do you dream of being in the medieval times too? 🙂

The Writer’s Space

I do not indulge in pointless blathering: Daily Prompt: Writing Space

Where do you produce your best writing — at your desk, on your phone, at a noisy café? Tell us how the environment affects your creativity.

I produce my best writing when I am flopped on my bed and alone in my room. I think this is mainly because I do odd things when I write my stories, like looking up from my laptop to pronounce several words aloud, or frowning into the distance and pondering some seemingly distant topic, like, should Tom die now or later?

Of course, that makes me seem like a murderer, but really, I am only killing off my imaginary, storybook characters. Please, there is no cause for alarm.

Besides, I get rather annoyed when I am distracted from my train of thought, to do mundane things like eating. I mean, I usually love eating—that is one of my hobbies, besides being a necessity of life. But just not at the wrong time. Especially when I’m writing.

My creativity pours out of me when my muse arrives, so I really don’t mind where I am when I start to write, as long as I get to write down whatever new story idea I may get. It is really frustrating when new and good stuff goes into your head, but you don’t have the time to write it down, and only when you want to pen/ type it down later, it slips out of your mind.

Sometimes, my source of creativity comes from my dreams as well. Like you know, those nice, floaty fragments of stories that enter your head when you sleep. (Yikes, I just read that statement again and it sounded really creepy. I mean, just imagine a multi- coloured cloud hovering over you for a while, and then drifting silently into your head when you sleep. Like I said, creepy.) Some people might keep a dream diary, but I don’t, maybe because I am too sleepy in the middle of the night to pen down whatever that just went through my mind.

Ok, I think that’s enough rambling for one time. So tell me, where do you write best? 🙂

To My Silent Readers

This short little write- up is dedicated to my very silent readers, to express my utter contempt at your entirely unresponsive— Just kidding.

Anyway, this post is to analyse the reason behind Why We Don’t Dare to Click the Comment Button, and other mundane things.

For me, at least, I‘ve always have had difficulty typing in random stuff to update my status on some social network. I don’t exactly see the point of wanting to inform the world of my mood that day, or what I’ve had for lunch, or where I went to for an outing. Or maybe I just lack the courage to update my status, because I fear that people will judge me based on that.

The ‘Post’ button looks so intimidating and imposing, that I feel exactly the same as Gru, from Despicable Me, when he set the telephone on fire on his desk, just because he didn’t dare to call the woman he liked out for a date. Pathetic, I know.

For that reason, I actually admire people (are you one of them?) who are brave enough to put such stuff on the internet. I mean, they actually have the courage to go type something out, like how they are feeling that day, or what they just ate, and post it for all the world to see!

I think this is the reason why I rarely click any button that has ‘Comment’ or ‘Post’ or ‘Share’ scrawled over it. Up to this point, you must be thinking what an anti- social creature I am. Or perhaps wondering why I even have a blog in the first place. Funny how things turned out to be, eh?

So, the question of the day. Do you dare to click the Comment button? 😉 I guess we’ll see, won’t we? (A challenge, if I’ve ever seen one!)

Voting results for The Timeless City’s sequel!

Hello! So, after voting for your preference on what goes into my novel’s sequel, the results are out! 🙂

Mind you, if you have not voted yet, you can still make your voice heard, right now. I promise, I will still take into consideration your views!

If you recall, quite succinctly, I gave you the options of:

  1. Continuation of Charles and Destiny
  2. Destiny’s past
  3. More about Palo the centaur
  4. Alysia and her family
  5. No more sequels please!

And, the majority voted for… (No prizes for guessing) Charles and Destiny! So, yes, that is the direction my sequel will take. Right now, I have a brief storyline sketched for it, and you’ll be seeing a couple of familiar side characters making a second appearance!

But you’ll have to wait, for I am preparing The Timeless City for publishing, and working on a couple more stories first!

If you want to catch a quick glimpse of my novel before I take it down (yep, sorry dude), you can check it out here:

Click the book to read The Timeless City!

Click the book to read The Timeless City!

Happy reading, and have a nice day! 🙂

What do you think of my book cover?

Hiya! I’ve been dreaming of a book cover for my novel, The Timeless City, ever since I started writing it (sheesh, that was so very forward- thinking) And this is the result! 🙂 The Timeless city book cover   What do you think of it? 🙂 I’ve spent a couple of days slogging away on Photoshop and frowning emptily at my window like a moon- addled fool. All the same, I won’t mind if you have any major suggestions, cause that would be brilliant! Comments are free for all!

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, try diving into The Timeless City!

Emerging from a painting

I do not invest in unwanted drivel: Daily Prompt: Living Art

 One day, your favorite piece of art — a famous painting or sculpture, the graffiti next door — comes to life. What happens next?

The painting I have in mind would be The Reading, by Renoir:

If I find those two sisters wandering around, first of all, I don’t think I will recognize them… I mean, what are the chances that they will stand out from the crowd? Okay, maybe if they retain their dressing, and combined with their alabaster skin and blushing cheeks, I might recognize them, and do a double- take.

I’ll hide behind a pillar and observe them discreetly. They will be bumbling about in the 21st century, confused by the noise and weird ‘magic’ around them, which we call ‘technology’.

Gathering my courage, I would approach and talk to them, to find out more about their world, the time period in which they come from. Perhaps, I might make a shocking discovery that their painting is actually a portal from their world to ours! Now, that will be interesting, won’t it?

I will usher them back in, and if I’m feeling rather adventurous and reckless that day, I will crawl in after them, through the painting, and into their world. That would be real amazing.

Since I wouldn’t want to be stuck in their era for the rest of my life, I will wedge something into the portal, as one would wedge a piece of wood between the door and its frame to keep it from closing. When I’m pretty much done with exploring their world, I would just nip back quietly to my own world.

This daily prompt actually reminds me of the book I have read before in my childhood—The Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimmo.

The following may contain spoilers, if you have not read the first book in the series, Midnight for Charlie Bone.

This series is about a group of children who are the endowed (like, you know, gifted) and the main character, Charlie, finds out he is a picture traveller, which is something like travelling through pictures/ paintings and interacting with the occupants in the picture.

There was this once where he entered the painting of a sorcerer, called Skarpo (Ah, I remember the name!) and Skarpo escaped from his painting! The subsequent chapters elaborated on the disaster that ensued from that incident…

I’m not saying that occupants of a painting should stay where they are—that is, in their painting—because, where will the fun be, eh? 🙂 But I think the consequences, especially if the occupant has malevolent intent, will be quite nerve wrecking.

Can you think of someone evil whom you don’t wish would emerge from a painting?

Just So You Know…

Hello! Here are a couple of updates to keep you in the know! 🙂

I have just posted the last chapter of the novel I’m working on, The Timeless City. It’s a real happy ending, I promise you that.

Besides, there is a sequel for The Timeless City, and the best part is… You can decide what’s going into it! It’s really easy, just vote, and comment if you think something else should be addressed in the sequel! 🙂 Happy voting!

Also, I am now taking a break from posting novels… To post short stories! So watch the space under ‘Short Stories’, cause some nice stories are coming your way! 🙂 Hmm, let me be more specific.

For starters, there will be a short story about pirates (Yar har har an’ a bottle o’ rum!), where the main character gets to kick some butt! Next will be an Arthurian tale, with an interesting twist of events, and where, incidentally, the main character kicks some medieval butt too! 🙂

Just so you know, these are the heads- up for you! Good day, and go do some writing of your own too! 😀

Strangers demolishing my cake!

Daily post: Unexpected Guests

You walk into your home to find a couple you don’t know sitting in your living room, eating a slice of cake. Tell us what happens next.

If I walk into my own home to see a couple eating a slice of my cake, the conversation will pretty much go like this:

‘Holy crap! Who are you?’

Silence from both of them.

Then, ‘Is that my cake?’

‘Aye.’ The guy speaks, holding the cake delicately between his fingers. ‘Oh, this delightfully fluffy thing is called cake?’

And I would be staring agog at both of them, because judging from their clothes (breeches and tunics, and the woman’s thick surcoat) and from his speech; they may have come from the past…

Maybe, if I find them interesting enough, I will talk to them, find out which era they come from. But if I find out that they are a hoax, I will very gently throw them out of my front door, and send them tumbling back to their own homes, sheepish expressions fixed firmly on their faces.

That would make a pretty good story.

However, if I’m in stealth mode that day, and come home finding scratches on my door knob, and my usually kept- shut gate swinging ominously in the wind, I’ll phone the police.

Or if I happen to have stepped into a crime novel, I would be obliged, as the protagonist, to come in through a secret entryway into my house, or maybe through the windows. Before I do that though, I’ll act real cool and slip on a balaclava, some fingerless gloves, and a rope. Then, I would proceed to the roof, and slide my way down to my windows, slipping in and surprising that intrusive couple.

The cake would fall from their fingers; their eyes would stretch wide open.

Then, the woman will shriek, ‘Burglar!’

‘What? No! It’s you! You’re the burglar!’ I’d yell, voice slightly muffled by my balaclava.

I think it would be quite a cause for confusion.

‘How dare you step into my home and call me burglar!’ I’d pull of my balaclava, trembling with rage.

‘What?’ Now, it would be the couple’s turn to be surprised.

Then, I’d look around, and find out maybe like, hey, that’s not my sofa, wrong colour… And like, my television doesn’t look like this…

A proverbial bomb will drop on my head, because I’d realize that I had stepped into the wrong home!

Quick as a fox, I’d slip back out of the window and haul myself back to the roof, making an unobtrusive escape from the couple, and from my embarrassment.

Perhaps, that sort of thing doesn’t occur to main characters in those stories…

My ceaseless mumblings have an origin: Daily prompt: Unexpected Guests

My Most Prized Possession

Daily Prompt: Pride and Joy

What’s your most prized possession? GO!

What is the first thing you will grab, if your house is suddenly on fire, and you need to escape?

That was the first thing that came to my mind when I thought of ‘my most prized possession’. But honestly, that’s so practical….

If I were to be impractical, my most prized possession would be my hard copy books. Especially the Inheritance Cycle series. I’m totally a fan of that series! 🙂 I just love flipping through the books and taking in a deep breath of fresh paper and ink. That being said, I’m not a bibliophile, because most of the books I own in hard copy are mainly the Inheritance Cycle, and a couple more childhood books I can’t bear to part with. Besides, I don’t have much storing space to keep all my books. Boo hoo! 😦

What if you are declared bankrupt, and the bank is coming to claim your house… What is the first thing you’ll grab, that will be of use to you when you are homeless?

I’ll grab my bed. To me, sleep is one of the more important thing (I was going to say ‘most’, then decided against it :P) In order to be alert and fresh the next day, you need a good night’s rest. If not, you’ll be easily irritated and grouchy, and won’t be able to face the day’s challenges! J And the bed is very, very crucial in playing this role. Besides writing and reading, I love to sleep too!

I don’t think I’m the kind to grab my phone or my computer first, because what is the point anyway, when they are going to run out of power soon, and there is no charging point on the streets? (Or at least, that’s what I think)

So, what is one thing you’ll grab first in a disaster? 🙂

This Legacy of Mine

What kind of imprint on the world will I leave behind, when I’m gone? I’ve never really taken much consideration for this question, because I always think that the end of the twisting, turning and convoluted road called Life is far, far away. Truth to be told, who knows, a road block might just pop up unexpectedly, and I could be wiped off the face of the earth, anywhere, anytime. Hah, only God knows.

So, let’s do this differently. Let’s approach with two ways. Short term and long term.

If I were to just up and go in, say, within the span of five years time, I want to leave behind something of value, something that people can remember me by. (Woah, big dreams, for one so young) First most would be my blog, Pencil Nibbler. Hey, I might be an unpublished writer, or maybe just an aspiring author, but my writing does reflect bits of me, as it should. When others read my stories on this blog when I’m gone, I can, in the least, leave bits of me on the earth. (Yucks, that’s gross) And that’s that. There is no ‘second most’, at the moment.

When I take leave of my corporeal form after many, many years, then I shall add another legacy atop the one of my blog. And that would be tome after tome of books. I sincerely hope that my writings will get published some day, and that would be real cool.

Imagine running a finger down the glossy spine of a book, feeling the embossed letters beneath your fingertips. Then, you’d pull it out of the shelf, flip it open, pages crisp and dry, papery under the pads of your thumbs. And on the first page, you see printed words— the title, something that is intriguing and exciting, and then your name.

Oh, that idea makes my heart leap in excitement!

Writing has always been a part of me. I spend my day- dreaming time thinking of how to further develop my stories, and lengthy phrases will just flit, unbidden, across my mind. Books written by me would be a nice way of leaving behind a legacy. I want people to see hints of me in my books, in my writing. Maybe, in my stories, if I were to flatter myself, there would be a light and humorous tone, a dash of sarcasm, and a splash of irony.

I want to write stories that make people laugh out loud (oh yes, I did manage this a couple of times), make them cry, and otherwise bring them to all extreme reactions, except rage, which makes some people kick and throw things. Maybe I’ll stop at ‘righteous anger’.

This, dear readers, is the legacy of mine. What would you want to leave behind?

This seemingly random post was inspired by: Daily Prompt: Don’t you forget about me

My Journey to see the Northern Lights

Just so you know: I went to see the Aurora lights back in Dec 13, and this piece was written somewhere in January. Haha 🙂

 

I thought I could try travel writing. I mean, it’s really quite simple, come to think about it. Just plant your butt down at the place, look around at the people and scenery, create a story, place pen to paper, and start scribbling.

That’s easier said than done. My brain was quite a blank when I tried, reflecting the piece of pathetically- white paper in front of my face. I looked around our campsite, which meant the van, and well, just the van, with loads of white. We were surrounded by vast snow- covered mountains, and snow- covered ground, and basically snow- covered everything. The moon was shining full and bright, overly so, and a couple of stars twinkled down at us. There was not a soul in sight, except for the few of us who were chasing the Lights.

We were at the Swedish- Finnish border, conveniently located along a frozen lake.

And waiting, with frozen puffs of breath and poised cameras, for the Northern Lights to make an appearance. Two things, I learnt, from this trip. 1. Nature is terribly unpredictable. 2. It’s good to see stars (not the ones around your head when you are dizzy) when chasing the Lights. Hence, whenever someone spotted stars when we were driving along the road, we’d pull over and set up camera stands and wait.

Well, we didn’t just sit on the snow like statues carved out of stone, for me, at least. I was running about, each step taking me down into knee- deep snow. Trust me, it’s really good exercise. I tried building a couple of snowmen, but snow conditions weren’t that applicable for such activities. In the end, I settled for some snow angels, and finally, growing tired, lay down and faced the sky.

The silence was profound. It forced itself against my ears, like a pair of mufflers, and made me think that I had lost the ability to hear anything. The howling of wind allayed my fears, though it was hardly comforting— it was more of a harsh reminder that we were out here, in the wilderness, miles and miles away from civilization.

It got cold after a while, and so I got up and plodded through snow again just to keep warm. There was an orange glow, near the back of the van, and I saw that the guide had created a fire. He was boiling water, and in no time, we were clutching warm packets of instant soup in our hands, drinking delicately with spoons. The steam clouded my spectacles, and for a moment, I was afraid the Lights would pop out in the sky and I wouldn’t be able to see it.

My fears were baseless, of course. The Northern Lights were a no- show.

After an hour or two, we packed up and headed back. This was around two in the morning. And yup, we didn’t manage to catch the Lights. I didn’t know what to feel. We had come to Norway specially to see the Northern Lights. And this was already the last night we would spend chasing the Lights. On the brighter side though, the snow covered mountains had been beautiful, and we had even walked across a frozen lake. I leaned against the cool window pane, gazing out at the frozen landscape.

But as I said, Nature is terribly unpredictable. Sometimes, it’s unpredictable in your favour. Halfway through while driving on the frozen road, someone in the van shouted, ‘I see stars!’

And then we were stopping, gloved fingers thick and clumsy with excitement as we fumbled with camera stands and our cameras. We waited, and finally…

Two interlocking spirals of green fell through the night sky. All was silent, as we stood and stared, and really stared, hard. I was twitching about, waiting for my camera to finish loading after taking the first photo, and clicking the button again to take a second one.

Here’s why I was impatient: It was really, really dark there, in the wilderness. I needed a wide aperture opening; hence using an eight second shutter speed was necessary. In addition, I used a ten second timer, because the camera needed time to stabilize after I clicked the shutter button. And actually, two seconds timer should have been ok, but well, I decided to err on the side of caution… So, that resulted in a bit of jumping- on- the- spot kind of anxiety. All in all, it took eighteen seconds plus maybe ten more (for the loading) to take A SINGLE SHOT. And the Aurora Borealis could fade out of existence any minute, any second.

Anyway, we saw a bit more after those two spirals, then the sky was once more a blank piece of black, dotted with stars, so we packed up and left. And I was happy. We had managed to catch a glimpse of God’s wonders.

On the third night, we just had our dinner, and were lounging languidly in the hotel lobby, when someone yelled, ‘It’s outside!’ and there was a great rush of people running out.

We got out, and wow… The Northern Lights were spreading out in waves across the dark, velvet sky, soaring above our heads and streaking over the hotel. The green lights were reflected on the water’s surface (as out hotel was by the harbor), and it was amazing. The beautiful display of the Aurora Borealis lasted for an hour, so we had plenty of time to take more than a dozen shots.

Sometimes, the things that we want might be just right in front of us, staring us in the face. You don’t need to go miles and miles away to find it. I know, that sounds really cliché and terribly unimaginative, but it’s true.

 

ENJOY THE PICTURES! 🙂

Couldn't resist! It's adorable

Couldn’t resist! It’s adorable

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This was taken outside our hotel

This was taken outside our hotel

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The van

The van

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See that little hint of green?

See that little hint of green?

 

The moon was a perfect circle

The moon was a perfect circle

 

That's me

That’s me

 

The Idea of Posting

The idea of posting something, I must admit, is quite daunting. I mean, posting something that ends up in this section, ‘The Life of Mildred’. It’s just weird, I guess. There’s really not much going on in my life. I’m the boring sort. The sort who stays at home most of the day and the most interesting thing she can look forward to is the next meal, or perhaps sleeping. The most exciting thing that might occur would be the thoughts that flit through her head.

I dunno, I can think of a lot of things. I dream of what stories I write next, imagine the scenes out in my head. The faces of my characters are always blurred, because I can’t exactly picture them in real- life. I think of catch phrases that I could write, and imagine what the reaction would be on the antagonist’s face in my story. You know, the final scene when the main character goes like ‘Ta- da! Caught you there, buddy.’ It amuses me, really. When I pause in writing, say, in a very exciting part of the story, I like to think of my characters as being stuck in limbo. Like maybe, if you read the below slowly, and imagine it:

The murderer raised his knife, his shadow casting a terrifying silhouette in the night.

To Jonas, everything up till that point in his life seemed to fade away in that instant, and only that moment seemed to come into sharp clarity before his eyes. The knife was startlingly sharp. The murderer had a grin on his face, his teeth gleaming at the pointed ends in the moonlight. The knife began to descend. Jonas wondered if the cold steel would be the last thing he ever felt.

As the cruel blade found its mark—

And then I go to the kitchen for a drink. Just imagine the scene now. The brilliant moonlight, illuminating the scene before your eyes—a murderer and his deadly knife, poised over a dude who is lying on the ground, gasping for his breath. Hah! Completely frozen. Stuck in limbo.

I even think of creating new metaphors, and some of them just sound down- right strange. I’ve tried likening a thought to a sunflower seed. Like many sunflower seeds, if compressed, can give out a large amount of oil. This oil, of course, would be the outcome, the piece/ article/ essay you’ve written after delving into a bundle of thoughts. What a slick description.

If you’ve read the Inheritance Cycle, which is, incidentally, my favourite book, or rather, series, then you’d know what I’m talking about. The metaphors you encounter there are not quite the usual ones you’d see in other places. I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I like that series.

And then I think of other stranger things. Like what if each colour everyone sees appears differently in each person’s eyes? Let’s take an example, for instance. Say, you and I are both looking at a colour, which is blue. What if the blue you are looking at appears green, in my eyes? And if we both agree that we like the colour blue, I’d never know you were actually referring to green, and you’d probably see green as blue, and maybe say that you dislike green, which essentially means that you dislike blue—are you following? That was a bit convoluted. But I suppose you got what I was saying, anyway.

Ok, I understand if I’ve lost you somewhere earlier. To the one or two who are still with me— or is it no one?—I want to ask if these thoughts have ever occurred to you, or maybe something along these lines. I think I should end here before you die of boredom, or close your eyes and rub the back of your neck or something.

You can leave whatever goes through your head in the comments below, maybe the nice and polite ones. Feel free to ramble on about Inheritance Cycle too, and I promise I will reply that. I mean, even if you don’t like that series, you can ramble on about why you don’t like it. I promise I won’t snarl at my computer.

For those hopeless ones who still want some more of my ramblings, you can comment random stuff that you want me to talk about. Thanks. Hope you haven’t fallen asleep reading this!

Blackout Poetry

Blackout Poetry

The text used for my piece of blackout poetry is the poem ‘Love song, with two goldfish’ by Grace Chua. Go check it out! 🙂 I love the fish- related metaphor! 🙂 You can find it here. So here’s my … Continue reading