Where James Joyce Fails, Neil Gaiman Prevails


A James Joyce art doll

A James Joyce art doll by MEDIODESCOCIDO. Some rights reserved.

A lot of people are probably going to hate me for this, but let’s have at it anyway:

No writer is perfect. Not even James Joyce.

I’ve been struggling to finish Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” for a while now. To be precise, it was the 5th of December, 2012, when my Modernism Professor assigned it as a compulsory read. (I neither finished the course nor obtained a degree in English Literature; I had to get real and find employment.)

It’s not that “Portrait” is extremely difficult, it’s just— incredibly boring. I can never bring myself to care about Stephen Dedalus, let alone what happens to him—there has not been one single event in Joyce’s bildungsroman that triggered my interest to know more. It’s like reading into the life of someone unknown, to whom I have no connection whatsoever.

There’s one other reason I have such a difficult time enjoying the novel: Continue reading


One Hundred Years of Servitude

Saint Peters Square panoramic view at night

Last week I asked for writing prompts to help me get my writing back on track. I received three. This one is thanks to subspace5000. Not really my genre, but here it is. I will post the other two soon, along with what I’ve learned from the whole exercise.

As usual, comments are appreciated.

Ernak marched through the candle-lit corridor, his wings folded tight behind him, his pet human following obediently by his side. He began to feel searing pain from the wound in his stomach—thick, pitch black blood dripped onto the floor with each stride. Continue reading

Get Published or Die Trying… or Would You?

Daniel Maclise - Caxton Showing the First Specimen of His Printing to King Edward IV at the Almonry, Westminster

I bet this post would be immensely popular had one or two of my books been published by a major publisher—but I’m not there (yet). Or had I published one or two of my books myself, which ideally had been well-received—like Cristian Mihai, whose book “Jazz” I recommend. But I’m not there (yet) either.

So let’s assume that this will definitely happen in the future and that right now, I’m “writing ahead” as an investment. Continue reading

Serene Piety

Southgate snow London

Published in OZIP Magazine as a Christmas special. The theme was “serendipity”, hence the title.

This Christmas, too, he would visit his good old friend. A bouquet of white lilies in his hand, he treaded softly on the icy cobbles—as if treading on someone’s dreams1.

Big Ben struck twelve. He walked into the gates, onto a pathway surrounded by green grass—buried under thick snow. Passing a statue of an angel, he felt as if in some heavenly garden.

He always had to smile whenever he recalled how they had met; he had found her notebook on the street, covered in snow—it had been snowing then, just like today.

If found, please return to… Lucrezia, is it an Italian name? Certainly not English… and then, her address; Is this fate? Some fortunate accident taking me—finally—to my soulmate? Continue reading

Confession of a PUA

Shimoyoshida CLUB

And she left without saying a word.

How many was it? Three? Four? He wasn’t sure. There was the Persian woman—or at least she looked Persian. The tall, blonde, voluptuous Dutch woman. With her large, pointy nose that was a bit of a turnoff. She was carrying… a shopping bag; Hermès, was it? Must be of the upper class. Aim high, they say. Yet even he had to admit… way too high for him. Too tall, too. Out of his league, to use the cliché. He would be like— like a lone wolf staring at the moon endlessly, every night, pondering how perfect she was, how magnificent. How her light shone on everything on earth, but him. He would be howling incessantly, waiting for her to respond, to take a glance at him, to recognize his existence. But of course, in the end, he would be left alone in the dark, enveloped by his own shadow, the moon out of his reach. Continue reading

To Write or Not to Write in English


As a board member of Bom Cerpen (short story bomb in English) — whose main task is to encourage aspiring writers from Indonesia to write short stories in Indonesian — I am presented with a painful dilemma.

“Do I write in English or in Indonesian?”

It’s really a question for all aspiring writers from Indonesia. But for every other writer as well, who feels the need to choose between the most prevalent language in popular literature and their native tongue. Continue reading

Writing Is Meditation


Today I had an epiphany. Not the religious kind, more like a Joycean one. You see, I like to meditate. When I do, I don’t see lights or saints. I merely observe my breath as it goes in and out. Sounds simple, right? Well, many people think writing is simple. Sometimes, maybe. Most of the time though, it’s hard. This morning I was writing after a meditation session, when I remembered something a fellow meditator once shared:

A student went to his meditation teacher and said, “My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I’m constantly falling asleep. It’s just horrible!”

“It will pass,” the teacher said.

A week later, the student came back to his teacher. “My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It’s just wonderful!”

“It will pass,” the teacher said.

This is an example of anicca, which basically means: Nothing lasts forever. I believe it applies to writing as much as to anything else. Continue reading