21 June 2017

My work star is on the rise.

I recently got my first writing gig (articles on psychology for a foundation based in Chiang Mai), and subtitles work is flowing in. I’m on the fourth episode of my first Korean drama, and I was asked today whether I’d be interested in editing other translators’ work (Surely that must mean my translation isn’t too bad, right?).

I’m slightly concerned what it’ll be like come 3rd October when I begin my CELTA course. I’ve finished my application but have yet to submit it. I’ll do it soon. Now I’m wondering how it’ll be like time-management-wise. I’ll be working four days a week, studying three days a week. Granted, most of those are half-days. But there’ll be homework from CELTA. On top of that there’s the writing and the subtitles. And teaching my one private student. It’s going to be a tough 10 weeks.

I’m preparing for it though. I’ve started cutting down my sleeping hours to a maximum of 8 (from 9-10). I want my body to get used to sleeping less, and I think 8 hours is a pretty solid amount. I’ve also cut down on my nap time. No more long naps, 30 minutes maximum.

I’m also trying to not be lazy and get on the treadmill. I want my body to be in better condition. Plus, my weight has been creeping up these past months. So it’s a win-win situation.

Overall, I’m pretty happy though. I’m doing something that I really like. The subtitles job has truly been a blessing. And I’m enjoying it even more now that it’s a Korean drama. For some reason, it’s much easier to translate. The first time I watch the video, I already have a running commentary in Thai in my head. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched so many of them that I know how they work. Plus, this drama is really fun. It’s a medical investigative drama. The production and acting is solid, and the storyline imaginative.

So yes, I’ve been doing well. Slightly iffy about the future, but you never know until you try, and I’ve been pretty easy on myself these past few years. Time to buckle up and push forward.

Hope you’re all doing well!

Love,

Val

 

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9 May 2017

Today has been a super productive day so far.

I woke up at 5:20, got up around 5:30, drank coffee and chilled for half an hour, then did subtitles work for 2 hours straight.

And translated exactly 425 lines. You may not know how much that is, but it’s a massive amount. I usually average just above 100 lines per hour.

In minute terms, I was taking 4 minutes to translate each programme minute. That’s like a million light years away from my speed (as of Saturday) of 1 programme minute every 7 minutes.

That’s like… WOAH.

Then after that I prepped my class for tomorrow; I’m teaching two students at 7:30 and 10am. I finished prepping the first and outlined the steps for the second. Then I got tired of working so I stopped. It was about 10:47am. (Ok fine, it was exactly 10:47am.)

So I did one-third of my current subtitles project and finished more than 60% of my class planning in less than five hours, with a half-an-hour break in the middle watching Hannibal.

That’s an incredible improvement on the 4th of May, which I wrote about here. I blame George Lucas. The Dark Side must have been at work.

So yes, I had an amazingly productive morning, which I’m super happy with. Then I got ready and left for town.

I decided to take the bus the whole way today rather than the usually bus-purple line-MRT-BTS combination, and lo and behold, it was faster! At a fraction of the cost! I’m only taking the bus from now on outside rush hour.

And here I am now, one hour away from my “Amazing Service at Reception” training, blogging in a café. I wonder what they’ll train us today. I’m prepared to be amazed.

After the training my friends from school are having dinner to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I haven’t seen them in many months, so that should be nice too.

Today’s set to be a good day!

Time for me to go work on my second short story. It’s called “One Seventy-Two” courtesy of my friend.

Love,

Val

28 April 2017

Yesterday was a momentous day.

Something happened which made me extremely upset. Angry upset, not sad upset.

I didn’t write about it yesterday. I didn’t think of it. I’m glad I didn’t. I was too emotional and would have written something extremely accusatory. That’s not cool. Not even when you’re angry upset.

I learnt yesterday that I had been excluded from discussions concerning the future of my soon-to-be-vacant position at work.

A little background: I decided to go part-time starting in May, which means one of two things – either someone takes my position or it is scrapped entirely.

When I had talked briefly to the big boss after making my decision known, he had mentioned that my immediate supervisors would discuss what to do with the position.

I hadn’t brought up the topic with either of my two immediate bosses, because it’s the end of the month and there’s pressure to reach service and sales targets. I thought better to wait until the beginning of May to sit down and plan what to do together.

Until I learnt yesterday that all had pretty much been decided, without my knowledge nor involvement in any form. I heard it mention in passing from a few other staff that someone is going to take my role, so I went to one of my immediate supervisors and asked her. She confirmed the news.

My reaction at the beginning was muted. The news made me feel down, but I didn’t quite know how I felt about it. After a short while though I realised I was really upset about it, and while chatting to a friend I figured out why I was so upset: I felt that by not seeking my input, I was being unceremoniously cast aside.

Not asking the person who piloted the role and worked at it for five months what she thought should happen to it after she left? Uncool. It shows how little I am valued by the team. And I am – as my friends and even parents agree I should be – extremely hurt.

So I asked to leave work early yesterday. I started crying a little bit in my supervisor’s office. She was concerned, but I didn’t tell her anything. I didn’t feel the time was right.

Cried with two of my friends at work in the supermarket after while waiting for my dad. They were supportive of my rage.

Then having got to a different mall (I couldn’t leave the mall I was working at fast enough. I wanted to get away so badly I went to sit and wait for my dad in the parking lot), I decided I wanted a day off work. So I called my supervisor and asked if it would impact the sales team too much if I didn’t come in the next day. Her answer made me even angrier than I already was.

She mentioned that they had meant to have the colleague who’s replacing me start calling the next day anyways. So I calmly told her what list to call, expressed my relief (genuine relief) that someone was helping finish my work, and thanked her for letting me take the day off (bless her she never asked me why – she probably knew).

The reason I got angrier was that her answer showed the decision to keep the position and replace me was pretty solid. If it weren’t, they wouldn’t have made plans for my colleague to start calling. And when were they going to tell me? On the day? Not at all?

So I didn’t go in to work today. I went and watched a movie, a very fun movie (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) with my dad. Had a generally good day. Inevitably thought about the situation at work from time to time. OK, fine – a lot of times. But I’ve cooled down.

Still upset. Still angry. But no longer emotional.

I hope I can find half an hour, fifteen minutes even, tomorrow to sit down with one of the bosses who were in the decision-making process. I want to officially let him know how pissed off I am. Calmly, politely, firmly.

I don’t know how that talk will go, but I really hope I can have it tomorrow. He knows something’s up. He said this morning that he was worried about me. Maybe he has an idea why I’ve asked to take the day off, what I’m upset about.

Anyways, I’m not feeling any surge of emotion (positive or negative) writing this, which is a good sign that I’ve overcome my feelings. If anything I feel determination to make my stance known.

All is good. All is good.

Hope this doesn’t happen to you guys, because in the event it does make one feel like shit.

Love,

Val

UPDATE: As it turns out, today is also a momentous day. I finished revising my short story about a dragon and a boy, “Cara”, just now. MY VERY FIRST SHORT STORY. Yey. Now it’s time to get feedback from my immediate circle. Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping they like it…

21 February 2017

I finished my short story today. *confetti*

I had been writing – rather putting off writing – the first of a series of novels for over a year when the idea of this short story came to me.

A friend and I were going to participate in NaNoWriMo last November and I needed a story to write. And it came to me in the shower, which is where all good ideas are born.

We ended up not doing NaNoWriMo, but a few months later as I was looking to re-start writing as a regular hobby I remembered the idea, and decided to put my novel aside and get started on it.

It was going to be a book, but then I thought of how I was struggling to motivate myself to finish a novel and realised a short story might be more realistic. Writing short stories, apart from being easier to finish, also has the added advantage of allowing me to practice different styles and get feedback on multiple pieces of writing.

So I decided to make it a short story.

I also decided to write it online (Google Docs) rather than on Word (my chosen medium) so I could work on it on my phone. This turns out to be a wise decision as I ended up writing most of it on my commute to town. I owe this story to the purple line; it is so slow I can usually finish a chapter before I reach the end of the line.

The short story is about a dragon and a boy. It’s 12-page long and is divided into bite-sized chapters. The aim is to explore the relationship between the two without directly reporting their interaction. The story is told through the voice of the boy. The challenge here was to develop the characters – a major flaw that has been pointed out by an experienced author of my unfinished novel.

I’m not sure if I like the finished work. Some days the story flowed and the dots were miraculously connecting to one another (today was one of those days), but some were a real struggle (yesterday was one) – I just couldn’t string the words together or control the direction of the story.

It’s only the first draft though, and knowing me it will go through many more until it reaches the first external examiner. I’ve asked a good friend to read and comment on it.

Once it’s truly finished, all varnished and shiny, I’m hoping to publish it somewhere. My first thought was to put it on my main blog – it has been dead for too long. But on second thought I’ll ask my experienced writer friend for recommendations on how to get a story out to the public. The ideal would be to get it published commercially, as part of a collection of short stories. I have no idea if it is that good, but you never know until you do.

But first, revisions!

Oh joy.

To all the writers out there, I hope today is one of the good days.

Happy writing!

Love,

Val

11 October 2015

Boredom is a curious thing.

You get bored when you do nothing. And you get bored when you do too much of something. Isn’t that weird?

For me, boredom comes from monotony. It’s the brain’s way of protesting that it is being used too monotonously – doing nothing all the time and doing something all the time.

Most curious indeed.

Why am I suddenly speaking of boredom? It is because, three weeks into writing my novel, I have reached that curious state of boredom. It’s sad but undeniable. Each day I find myself procrastinating, thinking “this evening I’ll do some writing” and, when evening comes and I cannot find the inspiration to write, “tomorrow morning I will feel refreshed and then, I will write”. Needless to mention, the same train of thought continues the next day, and the next.

The novel has been frozen for a week now. I have almost finished the second chapter; there is one scene left.

I wonder why I’m suddenly bored of it. I don’t usually get bored of writing. When I started writing my main blog back in 2013, I was writing every day and yet I always found something I wanted to write about. I remember my brain overflowing with entry ideas. In fact I had so many of them that two years later I still have a long list left.

For some reason, stringing words together to create my fantastical universe no longer gives me the thrill it did one chapter ago. I have two theories to explain the situation. One, the quality of my writing has dipped and I am no longer satisfied with what I am producing, hence the boredom. Two, I am dreading having to come up with new ideas. As I write, I am inching closer and closer to the point at which I stopped writing nine years ago. As it happens, the one scene I have left in chapter two is a pivotal one. Maybe I am scared of writing it, in fear that I would make a fatal mistake and set the novel on a course I cannot see through. Maybe.

So yes, for either of these reasons or for another unknown to me, I have been procrastinating. It does not help that I have been glued to a novel I’m re-reading, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind one of my favourite novels of all time. So instead of writing my own novel, I have been happily immersing myself in another’s. I’m currently on page 593 of 1011. It’s a long book – perfect for the purpose of procrastination.

You know what I need to get the novel going? A gentle yet persistent daily warning like Duolingo‘s. I find the mechanism highly effective. I am currently learning German (you guessed it – another way to procrastinate from my book) on Duolingo, and I am doing the exercises every day without fail. The more days I accumulate in my streak (I am currently on ten), the more determined I am to keep going. It’s really quite fascinating how easy I am to trick.

Öffentlichkeit

That’s the most difficult word I’ve had to learn so far. German is notorious for long words, and though this is not the longest word I’ve learnt (that’s privatunterricht I think), it’s the trickiest. I find the arrangement of letters extremely unintuitive. I mean, what kind of a word is that? (It means public or the public sphere, by the way.) If only German words could be short and easy like English (it’s such an easy language I cannot help but think that people who find it difficult are just extremely lazy).

So yes, I think I need a system like Duolingo’s to get my novel going again. I wonder if anyone has thought of it. It could be a very useful tool for undisciplined writers everywhere, moi included.

Hmm… I should read a French novel next. There’s this book an old friend bought me from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport (a strange location for buying a book, I know, but he was only passing through). It’s called La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert. Not the most enticing title, but I’ve flipped through it and it seems like a fun novel. Now and again I pick up a French book to keep the language fresh in my mind. Plus, I really love the flow of French and reading anything written in French always puts me in a good mood. I hope to be able to do that one day with German – that’s the plan. It’s an ambitious goal, but by no means out of reach. I am certainly as enthusiastic about German as I am of French; I have been for a long time.

But then again I just dug up my third copy of Catch-22 (I lost the first copy, and I don’t know where I put the second one). I might read that instead. I’ve been reading it for three years, and still I have not finished it. Not that I find it boring (ha! how about that for going back to my supposed topic). I really like the book. It’s not easy to read, but it’s so laugh-out-loud funny I put in the effort to follow the novel as it jumps back and forth in time in the most random way. Or maybe I’ll just read both at the same time. I’ve been doing that lately. After a while I get bored of one book and jump to the other, then I get bored of the second book and come back to the first one. It works for me. Stops me from being bored.

Coming back to the novel, maybe what I need is to start writing a second one so I can jump between the two. Oh God no. That would be a nightmare. I can hardly muster up the effort to write one. I can’t imagine doing it for two.

So yes, boredom. It’s a curious thing. I’m hoping that at one point I will miss my novel and come back to it naturally. Maybe I just need a break, break the routine a bit and indulge my brain in a little diversity.

In the meantime, I shall go back to my novel (the one I’m reading, not the one I’m writing). I’ve done my German for the day (die Öffentlichkeit, das Publikum, der Bürger, etc.) and I think it’s now time I enjoy myself a little. (German is fun, but reading is even more fun.)

I’ll be back to let you know what happens with the novel (the one I’m writing, not the one I’m reading). Most likely when I’ve got it going again. I really don’t want to come back a second time and report on my ineffectiveness. I like to think of myself as disciplined, and writing this entry is shattering that self-image.

I hope you’re more disciplined than I am and succeeding in your endeavours.

Love, as always,

Val

 

27 September 2015 (Part 1)

Dear reader,

It has been almost a year (well, ten months) since we last met. I am deeply sorry for my absence. I hope you have been leading pleasant lives, full of pleasant encounters and pleasanty things.

A lot, and nothing, has been happening on my end. Let me give you a summary:

  • First real job ended two months after it began. For a variety of reasons. You could say we were incompatible. I did not find meaning in the ups and downs of marketing, and the company did not find a suitable employee in me. I simply could not make myself passionate about the work I was doing, and this proved fatal to our match. In any case, I retain pleasant memories from my short tenure; and valuable lessons in sociology and psychology were learnt.
  • I went crazy. Literally. I don’t remember if I ever told you about my depressive episodes, which occurred recurrently in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014. (2012 was an entirely happy year, thanks to the wonderful offerings of Paris where I was spending my Erasmus exchange.) Anyways, I swung to the other end in late 2014, around the time I was leaving my job as Internet Marketing Analyst. By mid-January I was entirely out of it. I was deluded and I believe at one point hallucinating. My brain had gone haywire.
  • So, I was hospitalised. This was late January. To say ‘hospitalised’ is a bit misleading; I was forced to enter a mental hospital, where I was confined to the company of other crazy people for a month and a half. It was entirely traumatising, though the food was excellent. I gained weight and a disease: officially becoming a sufferer of bipolar disorder.
  • Reeling from the myriad effects of my medication (drugs that made my brain not go crazy), I was released from hospital in mid-March, from which time I have been home (hence the ‘nothing happening’ on my end). The drugs’ side effects wore off one by one. Apparently, for weeks after leaving the hospital I walked like C-3PO. Then the neck ache (never understood what that was about; my head was fine, it was the neck that hurt) disappeared. Gradually, the morning naps became shorter until, very recently, I was finally able to go the whole day without feeling sleep deprived. So yes, many months went by without nothing much happening. I watched Korean TV, Korean series (this one was my favourite), and Korean singers. I became something of an afficionado. (Like my mom, I must add. One of these days I shall surpass her knowledge of South Korea’s entertainment industry!) Apart from that I ate and walked. My father had kindly bought me a treadmill which I used daily to hill-walk in the (ever desperate yet futile) attempt to lose my hospital weight (the stress of being confined behind locked doors having been thoroughly relieved through overeating).

Recently, however, I have been writing. And that is why I am now here updating my precious baby. For many months I had planned on picking up a novel I had begun to write when I was seventeen. And finally, at the gentle yet firm urging of my doctor (whom I like very much) to find something more substantial than Korean entertainment to occupy my time, I opened the eight-year-old file and started writing. It’s a fantasy novel, a cross between Star Wars and Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire (ah yes, I forgot to tell you I have also been spending my time digging up old novels to read), with just a hint of Pop Economics and International Relations. It’s tentatively named The Gems of Azora and takes place on, you guessed it, the planet of Azora.

I’ve been writing everyday, but the book is advancing at a snail’s pace; I swear time disapparates (random reference) when I’m writing. I had left the book at 114 pages when I stopped writing eight years ago, and now I’m at 14. Wait… what? Yes. Sadly, I’m having to rewrite most, if not all, of what I’ve written. It turns out one’s command of English and general writing skills do improve over time. I shudder thinking back to my first reading of the sloppy, grammatically-inaccurate, and overly-complicated 114 pages I had produced as a teenager. Anyways, I’m rewriting it, and if I may I have to say the book is looking much better than it did before. I read and put the finishing touches on the first chapter yesterday, and I must say it is good fun. Fingers crossed, when the time comes, publishers will agree. I won’t tell you anymore just now, but I’ll surely be back to report on my progress.

That’s it for now. I hope you found this entry entertaining.

Much love,

Val

p.s. I’m thinking of taking up a part-time job as a waitress. There’s this trendy little restaurant near my house. I really like the atmosphere and the waiting staff is polite and efficient. I think I could have a good time working there while I finish my novel. Yes, maybe I should. We shall see…

 

 

 

3 October 2014

I was going to prepare for the interview. But obviously I’m not doing that, because I am here writing to you, my lovely readers.

As you might have gathered, I have an interview. As you’re about to find out, it’s happening in exactly 3 and a half hours.

And I’m nervous as hell.

It’s not a typical job. Certainly not one I planned on doing. But not one I can’t see myself doing. Did that make sense? Of course it did.

It’s a job I’ve done before and have enjoyed to a considerable extent. Not something I see myself doing as a lifelong career (though I wouldn’t be surprised if I do – it wouldn’t actually be too bad). But certainly a good opportunity, and one where I see myself (potentially) learning a lot.

I will give my CV another read-through in the cab. Or when I’m there waiting. Yes, I’ll do that. There will be time. I plan on arriving well and early. No rushing around on these heels. I am no interview expert, but I’m pretty sure a sprained ankle and/or sweaty palms won’t make for a good impression.

I don’t believe in being too prepared for interviews. It doesn’t work well for me. Of course, I read up on the company and the role, and make sure I understand what I am applying to do and what will be expected of me. But I don’t rehearse my CV or prepare stock answers to interview questions – you know, those questions.

Why? I believe in spontaneity. I believe in a good night’s sleep. I believe in a full stomach (I’m stockpiling as I type). When I go in to an interview, I don’t want to come across as ‘well-prepared’; I want to exude confidence.

I think that’s the best thing that can happen in an interview. Anyone can be prepared. Not anyone can ooze confidence and appear in control.

That’s why I’m here writing to you guys rather than hunched over my CV preparing answers to questions about my past educational and professional experience. This is my confidence pool. At no other times do I feel more relaxed and assured than when I’m writing here. For reasons fellow writers would understand, and which I’ve abundantly enumerated here.

Wish me luck.

Love,

Val

p.s. I got the job.