A Storyteller From An Island
I’ve loved telling stories ever since I was six years old. I’ve loved stories themselves even longer than that. To me, a story is something with a past, a present and, eventually, an ending. Growing up in Penang, I seldom travelled past the state borders, and even when I did, I didn’t travel far. Aside from the occasional weekend trip to KL and the special yearly family vacation, I can count the number of countries I’ve visited on one hand.
Despite all that, I still consider myself quite adventurous. Throughout my life, I have spent countless hours immersing myself in the history and folklore of dozens of distant places – not all of them real. Stories have been an escape for me ever since I realised using food as a coping mechanism was unhealthy, and I always find that there’s something to be learnt from every story. Whether it’s about life choices, the way of the world or hypothetical, every story tells a lesson
To me, everything in life has a story, and ever since I learnt how to structure a story, I’ve been creating and telling my own. This obsession followed me well into my adult years; the compulsion to over-analyse someone else’s fictional plot and think, “Yeah, I could probably do better.” That’s right around when I learned I had a decent knack for writing. It started with short stories, then essays, then poetry. I could better convey what I couldn’t express through spoken words or actions through my writing.
This, I decided, is how I tell my story.
Dreams Never Die
When I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. When I was in primary school, I wanted to be a scientist. In high school at Uplands International Penang, I thought I would become an artist after graduating. None of these ever panned out for me. Instead, I went to INTI International College Penang (IICP) and got a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication, because I forgot to apply for a scholarship after finishing my International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. Despite that, I never stopped being interested in astronomy or science, and I still consider myself an art enthusiast – at least, whenever I open Pinterest. That’s one of the most important lessons I learnt growing up: just because life doesn’t happen the way you thought it would, does not mean you can’t still enjoy those parts of life.
And so, I carried those dreams with me into adulthood, hoping to one day live them out through my new dream: writing. The first time I came across a ‘New York Times Bestseller’, I thought I had something special on my hands. I read through it, and nothing really changed. Then I picked up another ‘Bestseller’, and nothing really changed after reading that one too. I would only later learn that it wasn’t as uncommon as I thought it would be to write a ‘bestselling’ book, but what I wanted to do was write books that would change people. Stories and information that would broaden people’s understanding and allow them to see the world in a new, wonderful way.
This was my new goal, but achieving it would not be so simple. If I am to help people gain a new appreciation for life and find new value in the world, I would first have to broaden my own horizons. Through writing, I would become an astronaut, a scientist and an artist, all in one – while also having to shoulder the pain and pressure of being an overachieving perfectionist. Fun!
Knowing what I do now, I realise there is much more to writing than just telling the stories I want to tell. Some stories NEED to be told, and told properly, for the sake of others. There are also others who want their stories to be told but can’t find the platform or the words to tell it. Though I am still learning, I have the skills and practice to help others tell their stories the way they deserve to be told. All I need now is the experience.
My journey to getting a publication has taken me through different career paths, culminating in my present-day role as a content writer at Kode Digital. Through it, I hope to hone my writing skills and learn new things to help me fulfil my goal of becoming a published author. I am not sure where this path will take me or how long it will be before I manage to make a satisfactory publication. But I am committed to it for the long-haul.