An excerpt of my application to a creative writing course in 2011

“ All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and the sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. “

— Ernest Hemingway in Esquire, December 1934

To me, writing has always been one of the most powerful wonders that can move a person not just to emotion but action. It is not just a production of beautiful phrases or even a mere reflection of who we are, but a means of connection. Indeed, there is something very private about the process and even the published final product of writing. There is something unique about the special arrangement a writer uses, the way he dips into his arsenal of words, albeit one that is publicly owned. I love to write because when I do, the page becomes a space I own. Yet, this is a space that is inevitably someone else’s, because my motivations and longings are also someone else’s. The world is the muse of the writer, who will go on to inspire the world. In this way, writing and reading hold people together in a life where fragmentation is too easy.

Most of all, I hope that, as with many of the ventures we take on in life, I can gain insights into the very things that bemuse us most, the heart and mind of the human, the friend, the lover and the stranger, and somehow rediscover connections to the rest of the world. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”

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Her voice a deathless song

It was already dark, but he arrived at her building, drawn to her by some relentless force of magic. Her world was only known to him through a window of warm orange light. He imagined the light cloaking and enveloping her, the way he wanted to close her in a protective circumference. He wanted to take on her share of human secrecy, feeling a sense of desperation that seemed to drive a splinter into his being.

He thought of Gatsby standing alone on the vastness of his lawn, hypnotised by the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. In his mind, he imagined Gatsby reaching out in the loneliness of the night, and he had to restrain himself from doing the same.

“I wish I had someone who would be there for me and I could be there for him and we could just dive into it together.” Her voice was a deathless song, yet pregnant with the past killings that have come to define her, and it romped in his consciousness, without care or caution.

As he stood on the street, held by the power of his proximity to his very own Daisy, he thought about their own ash-grey men who haunt their dreams. They lurk in the dark corners of the city, behind trees in cemeteries, but only take dreaded form in the depths of his imagination, shaped by fear and rooted in memory.

And so they beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into her past.

Life seemed breathed anew into the both of them. Their hearts were lighter. Their lungs were no longer squeezed. Their smiles were lit by the sun, as easy as the grace of an Olympic gymnast.

Light seeping into the sky, the town was familiar and frightening while the air smelled like dew and kerosene. Reed swallowed against a weight in his throat, thinking about the untold stories in this place. This town used to be his home—their home—but now it spoke only of life unborn and aches he would never have. He had resolved not to be haunted by the home that used to be his, so he began walking towards the bus interchange, his heart as a drum, loud in its emptiness.

I love you, he says, to the space around her. She ate his words and her heart starts bleeding into itself. Her eyes glaze, but she pretended not to hear.