Monthly Archives: September 2011

Day 29: Reached Month Target!

Set myself a word count target of 20,000 words on Miss Blackmore And The Lizard’s Tail and I’ve made it!

Of course quality wise… well, I have no idea right now. Still to close to it and I’m seeing what I want to see there rather than what is there. Important thing right now is just to get it on paper–and yes, it’s a good start.

Have also started the Orchid Chan novella–4,000 words now. I’m aiming for a 20,000 word piece so that’s like one fifth done? But my eyes are starting to get crossed so will probably stop for the day soon.

Because tonight I’m going to watch Jonathan Lim in On This Emerald Hill! 🙂 Yes, looking forward to that.

Actually met up with Jonathan yesterday at ROFLs in Raffles where the two of us and Matthew Lyon were guests at a panel organised by the students.

I was very impressed by what the students put together–it turned out our panel was just one of (and in my case probably one of the least prepared for) part of a full day comedy conference. Just the abstracts of the papers to be presented at the Concurrent Sessions were so impressive, with titles like “Excuse me, my comic device isn’t working”, “Death and Humour: why we laugh at death” and “Healing with Humour” (on breaking down stereotypes) and more, much more…

I had to get back to work or I would definitely have stayed on.

Was really impressed by the students’ organisational skills too (the event was run better than some conferences I’ve attended!)  In particular Jeremy, Jonathan and Shrey Bhargava who I’d previously only seen as a Bud(ding) actor. Good presence, good timing and good spatial sense plus he speaks well–can see him as one of the stand-outs in the next generation. Would really like to see him writing though–especially writing his own performance material. The stage side may not surrender him so easily but we’ll see…!

And I found out that one of my former tutorial mates Ser Yee is teaching literature at RI! Guess the Eng Lit and Lang Course did us some good after all 🙂

So yes, it was a good day and it’s been a good month.

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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Life Happens, Writing Life


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Day 27: Shanghai International Literary Festival 2012!

Thrill of my life–I’ve been invited to the Shanghai International Literary Festival 2012!!!

It’s not till March next year but I’m already excited 🙂 My first literary festival outside of Singapore! Amy Tan is going to be there and A.B. Yehoshua and Alan Hollinghurst and Nury Vittachy…

My late mother was Shanghainese and I’ve never been to Shanghai before so that adds to the excitement and anticipation. If you believed her, not only were Shànghǎi rén the most cultured, Shanghai women were the most beautiful… in China you ask? In the world, I suspect she thought! Of course, as I mentioned she was Shanghainese herself so there may be some bias there! 🙂

So now I’m trying to figure out how to make travel arrangements, will see if I can get help with the airfare–but I’m going to say ‘YES PLEASE’ to them first and I’ll get there one way or another!!

And I’m going to get my first look at 8 Plays tomorrow. Ruth at Epigram says the books have come in and I can go get them to take a look (thank you Ruth!!)

It was very hard to settle down to do any writing with all the excitement so I ended up doing a lot of laundry, cleaning dogs’ teeth, walking dogs a bit more than usual… and then finally when I was too tired to fidget I sat down and got my words for the day in…

Not the greatest writing in the world but I don’t want to break my rhythm/ routine just because I’m bouncing off the walls being happy! There will be time to smooth things out during the rewrites. For now–marked out plot points and Forced the characters through their paces making them describe what they saw/ felt/ ate/ suspected/ wore… believe it’s harder to write when I’m happy than when I’m sick!

And I thought of a great idea for a mystery novella, an extended short story really. I’ve got the structure all in my head and think it will flesh out quite nicely at around 20,000 words.

Crazy thought: if I can finish the first rough of The Lizard’s Tail before December I can write the Novella in December, January and bring it over to Shanghai with me in March !

Well better to dream big than not dream at all right? Tonight I’m very very happy. And I made my word count for the day. And treated myself to seedless grapes. Life doesn’t get much better than this!


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Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Life Happens, Uncategorized, Writing Life


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Day 26: 8 Plays (almost) Here!

Epigram is (almost) ready to launch 8 Plays, a collection of some of the plays I wrote over the years. This is how it looks:

The cover of my book of plays

Most of my ‘Women’ plays are in here–from ‘The Woman in A Tree On The Hill’ and ‘3 Fat Virgins’ right through to ‘Hitting (On) Women’…

I was hoping to have this collection titled ‘Hitting On Fat Virgins In A Tree’ or ‘Ovidia Yu: Plays with Women’ but I guess Epigram found ‘8 Plays’ more catchy…

It’s part of a series of play collections they are putting out, following on Chong Tze Chien’s Four Plays and Tan Tarn How’s Six Plays. I guess this means whoever they publish next will be ‘Ten Plays’! I wonder who that will be. Desmond Sim certainly has enough performed plays… (Des, I would love to be on the shelf between you and Tarn How–however that sounds!)

I’m really looking forward to seeing how the book looks. Very grateful to Epigram for putting it together, of course. And also to the NAC for funding it with a publishing grant and to Dr KK Seet for bringing up the idea in the first place and having the energy and drive to push it through (If not for Dr Seet’s efforts ‘The Silence of the Kittens’ and ‘Hitting (On) Women would not have been included in this collection)  And he also provided the Introduction for the book so I owe him big, big time for this.

And of course to all the wonderful theatre groups who first staged these plays–if not for them these plays and characters would all be nothing more than voices in my head and with all this stuff racketing around inside my head.

I know I should be more excited, but it doesn’t feel quite real yet. Maybe when I’m actually holding it in my hands I’ll believe it!

In the meantime I’m still comfortably on schedule with the history mystery going into the last week of September. The target for this month was 20,000 words and if nothing comes up to knock me off course I should be able to make it.


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Posted by on September 26, 2011 in Life Happens, Writing Life


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Day 22: Chia Seeds!

I’m still on track writing wise… nothing much else has changed though I suppose that’s good.

I really need to get back to regular practice but I realise it’s been so long I’ll have to start right from the beginning, as though forming a new habit so…

Baby steps.

I was reading about forming new habits. There are so many different guides/plans/motivational aids but distilling down what I think I can work with I ended up with:

1) Start small- 5 minutes of Sitting and 15 minutes of Practice. Can’t step any smaller than that!

2) Pick a time- first thing in the morning, before doing my morning pages. The Morning Pages are fairly established as a routine and I’m getting used to the ‘writing 1000 words 5 days a week’ so I can afford to shift those around a bit.

3) Accountability- which is why I’m writing about that here!

Writing wise all is good. Just posted my royalty sheet this morning at Clementi Hub 🙂 Some day all this may become so routine that I take it in my stride but for now it’s still exciting.

Oh and Chia Seeds! I’ve been reading about them for some time, how they are full of protein and omega 3 and anti-oxidants and I was looking up where to get them (no reply from online sources about shipping to Singapore) when I found ‘Chia Shots’ at Clementi Fairprice this morning! So today I had chia gel in soy milk, in green tea and in lemon water!

And the writing is going, going… the difficulty is keeping myself on the track I’ve worked out and that ‘works’ ie ties everything together in the requisite number of words. As I write I keep getting new ideas, new possibilities, new twists that would be so much fun but I’m afraid if I allow myself to play I’m going to end up with a 80, 000 word manuscript even Jacaranda can’t sell!

So (for now at least) all the new ideas are getting tucked into a separate folder and told to keep quiet until I have time for them. Like the dogs they don’t always accept that. At least I’m done for the week so the dogs get their walk now!



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Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Health/Fitness/Balance, Life Happens, Writing Life


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Day 19: Monday…

The best that I can say is that I’m still on track with the writing/ word count for The Lizard’s Tail. I’ve introduced the victim, the murderer and suspects and the first lizard but I’m tired… spent the weekend working on the new novella and feel like I haven’t had a break in too long!

‘The Lizard’s Tail’ was also the name of a NaNoWriMo piece I wrote two years ago… that on rereading I had to split into three separate threads, one of which in a very warped way I hope to work into the present book. I love NaNoWriMo–it’s great for bulking up on tons of ideas… even now I’m wondering whether I can squeeze in an entry this year–

Marvellous Mentor Mukul says ‘focus on writing one thing at a time’ but if I separate writing one project on week days and the other on weekends that counts right? (well if I just took weekends off I probably wouldn’t be so tired, so…)

But I’m faithfully sticking to my Daily Health Challenges so I’m hoping those will do something towards keeping me from turning into a tub of lard at the computer. I swear I haven’t done a full practice for so long I can feel my body has changed and I probably wouldn’t be able to! I know–the longer I stay off the mat the harder it is to get back on but still I don’t get back on… I should just set the alarm earlier but sleep is another thing I need every extra minute of right now!

And I’m terribly behind in my own reading but Have Finished with the Golden Point short stories judging reading/ re-reading/ points assigning/ re-re-reading/ meetings with my fellow judges the wonderful Dave Chua and Meira Chand

It was great fun reading all the entries though so painful we couldn’t choose more winners–so many were so promising in so many different ways!

And we liked/ loved/ hated different stories for different reasons… yes, there were very very many discussions. But we managed to agree on the final list that we’re all happy with… still Top Secret till they announce the results at the Singapore Writers Festival of course!

And now… trying to decide whether to do yoga or go out for a long slow walk with the dogs… it’s wet but the rain has stopped so there’ll be lots of mud and smells and bugs and maybe even rats to scrabble after–doggie bliss in other words!



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Day 15: Growing Shoots

Current growth on my Daily Challenge Tree!  Patchy I know but the best I could manage and I really love how it looks. Wish I could print this out as a poster for my wall!

Level 8

Level 9


Level 9

Level 10

Level 11


If I get my week’s word quota done today I’ll take tomorrow off the book–trying to do a 5 min video this weekend & I need to script something. I know most people seem to be able to look into a camera and be articulate but when I look into the camera without preparing a script all that comes to me is the shelf behind it needs clearing or dusting, so…

Other things growing right now:

1. Just saw the cover of 8 Plays and it looks fantastic. Thank you Epigram! Hope it’s going to be out by the Singapore Writers Festival

2. Need to do blurb & synopsis for mystery novella that I’ll be writing in December… another ‘break’ month gone. But last year losing my December break last year resulted in the Mudskipper which I’m very pleased with.

Still I really need to factor in a break soon. Was reading Scott Dinsmore this morning talking about the benefits of doing nothing. The problem for me is that every time I clear nothing space even More things rush in! I’m not complaining. So far they’ve been very good things (especially those that rush in barking and wagging!)

3. I know I should forget about the manuscripts that are out of my hands — The Mudskipper and Aunty Wang –but part of my mind keeps going back and niggling at what I could have written differently or I should go back and change now… but no no no I will wait for feedback.

So enough dithering–back to the Book! And if I hit 12,000 words today I won’t be back till Monday!!


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Posted by on September 15, 2011 in Health/Fitness/Balance, Life Happens, Writing Life


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Day 14: Para Writing Activities

Spent all morning writing out a new bio (keeping fingers crossed, toes crossed… by now my eyes are crossed too!!!) because of something that may just be coming up for me–but I’m not going to say anything to jinx it right now. Besides have been told not to but I’m HOPING!!!

Was sitting down at the computer staring, writing, staring writing, from morning dogwalk non-stop till I went to meet my lovely power lady agent Jay to go to Books Actually to talk about my idea for a mystery novella…

And Yes, they’re interested (love those people. Well would love them even if they said no to me but I love them more now!)

I’m giving them 15,000 words by end December. I can probably do that in a month if I start thinking about it and structuring it now, so I can safely finish my first draft of Lizard’s Tail before starting on that.

Then off to post a sample to China (hee hee YES! Another round of crossed fingers) Please please please let at least some of these balls I’m tossing up into the air land…

And then finally, just after 3pm… lunch.

Found a very nice new vegetarian stall next to the Clementi Hub and ate there. Was really too tired to think of going into the supermarket for fresh veggies as I’d planned so someone to cook long beans, brinjal and bitter gourd for me was a life saver–and it was good too!

Back to explain to dogs that I still love them and hand out a chew stick each… problem is every time I leave the apartment they think I’m never coming back. Think it’s the result of having been abandoned before, my poor little rescue doglets.

And then did a 15 minute ‘sit’ to centre myself and then and only then sat down to meet today’s writing quota on The History Mystery. And yes, I’ve (finally) hit the target.

Now we’ll all go out for a nice walkies and I’ll try to feed them before falling asleep!


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