Call For Entries 2018: Fay Khoo Award

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Image Source: https://www.thefaykhooaward.com/

My ASEAN peeps, the Fay Khoo award ends in 19 days (Sep 30)! You can read about it here, download the Terms & Conditions here. For further information, you can email thefaykhooaward@gmail.com

I had no idea this competition existed, until Sharon Bakar brought  this to my attention. Again lol. Just like the D.K. Dutt award, I didn’t know about it until Sharon’s very concerned post on the Malaysian Writer’s FB group. She makes the same point now, with the Fay Khoo award – if local writers don’t submit, then competitions will shut down. End of story.

I’ve lived and written in Jordan, Australia and Malaysia, and let me tell you that the local writing scene here is SUPER SUPPORTIVE. Like, unbelievably. I’m so grateful for this, and so happy, and am going to start on my Fay Khoo submission after I write this blog post. Really.

My DK Dutt Competition backstory: After stumbling across Sharon’s post on FB, I frantically wrote up my piece while my then 1+ year old daughter kept waking up at night, cried while I wrote it out of sheer frustration and postpartum exhaustion and hormones,  finished it just before the deadline, submitted it, and didn’t expect to win anything. I wanted to keep the local competition alive, and to my absolute surprise and delight, my entry was short-listed, and now it’s the second story in the gorgeous anthology Bitter Roots, Sweet Fruits.

Moral of the story (ha) – each of us makes a difference. So write! Edit! Submit! Good editors don’t expect a perfect piece, but they do want a polished one. And if your story has potential, they’ll help you make it shine. OK now I’m reallly gonna go start working on my entry.

 

 

Book Review of Earthsea Quartet by Ursula Le Guin

There is sEarthseaomething captivating about epic fantasy classics. I’m rereading one of my old favourites – The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula Le Guin. This quartet includes the first four books from the Earthsea Cycle: A Wizard of Earthsea; The Tombs of Atuan; The Farthest Shore; and Tehanu.

While I witnessed of Sparrowhawk’s journeys in A Wizard of Earthsea, I could feel the crisp sea breeze on my skin, smell the salt of the ocean, and taste his desolation while he sailed into uncharted waters. The ability to transport the reader into another world is one of the hallmarks of well-written classic fantasy. As much as I enjoy my brief forays into dystopian YA novels, there is a lush, complex and gorgeous terrain only found in well-written, classic fantasy. Books like Tolkien’s and Le Guin’s take much, much longer to complete.

Le Guin’s writing style is both richly descriptive and tantalisingly sparse, leaving plenty of room for the reader to imagine the world of Earthsea. She expertly weaves themes like friendship, loneliness, the cost of pride and other human foibles into her stories. Any good story must have character growth, and Le Guin’s characters go on humbling journeys of self-discovery.

You know the old joke about fantasy novels? About how all fantasy worlds can somehow fit on two pages? Ha. It’s true, even in Le Guin’s case. This time, I actually made the effort of tracing Sparrowhawk’s journey on the map of Earthsea, and it made for even more vivid imaginings.

Without giving away too much, I’m curious about your thoughts on Le Guin’s take on gender, magic and mythology. Her depiction of women’s ineffective hedge magic versus the more serious craft of male wizards is…intriguing, particularly in today’s context of female-centric heroic narratives. If you ask me, I prefer a balance of both male and female protagonists. Le Guin is 85 years old, and she is unapologetic about her earlier works embracing the male-centric heroic narrative. I read one of her interviews, to help me understand the context she wrote in. Fascinating! In the Earthsea Quartet at least, the contrast between Le Guin’s gendered character descriptions to Margaret Atwood’s is very stark.

I’d like to end with an inspiring quote by Le Guin, given at the November 2014 National Book Awards:

I think hard times are coming, when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies, to other ways of being. And even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom: poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality. Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. The profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable; so did the divine right of kings. … Power can be resisted and changed by human beings; resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words. I’ve had a long career and a good one, in good company, and here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. … The name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.

The Artist Manifesto: Will You Create?

Here’s something I’d like to share with you:

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This inspiring piece of art was done by the talented Mandy Thompson. I’ve linked this image to Jeff Goin’s blog – check it out!

This manifesto speaks to me on so many levels. Starting up this blog has helped to jump-start my writing. Thank you for taking the time to read what I have to say. While my writing’s been progressing, my other passion, painting, has been woefully neglected. As I write this, I have blank canvases, empty sketch pads and all kinds of cool artsy stuff (acrylic, watercolour, oil paints, charcoal sticks etc) packed away in boxes. What’s stopping me? The usual suspects – fear of failure, procrastination, perfectionism. The irony of not starting a basic draft because I don’t want to get anything ‘wrong’ is that I get nothing done – I’m not any closer to that masterpiece! So if you’ve got something you’ve been wanting to write, sketch, or paint, take that leap, and see how it grows. Be at peace with imperfection. That’s where the beauty is.

My goal for tonight: break out my pencils and get a basic sketch done on my canvas. Baby steps!