Sleepless in Setiawangsa – 16

The craft of writing never ceases to antagonise me. I know, I have lost myself in the world of poetry lately, and really, I don’t have a plausible explanation to offer you. I need a harsh jolt of reality to begin writing again; preferably writing a piece of substance as opposed to my meaningless rambles, I normally do here.

Last night – after Dim Sum for main course and black coffee for dessert – Laila asked me in earnest, “If you don’t have to work, what would you do?” She looked at me straight in the eyes while adjusting the furry balls shawl around her lithe shoulders. Raihana sipped her coffee and nodded in approval to Laila’s question. She frowned a little – no, she frowned a lot. All eyes fixated on yours truly.

Pretty tricky question Ms. Furry Pinky!

Somehow, an answer cracked through my lips without a moment’s pause, “I just write -“

“What’s stopping you now?” Raihana halted me mid-sentence.

Precisely, what’s stopping me now?

“Hey, you guys want to help pick my dad’s birthday present at Pavilion later?” Laila ended my uneasiness with her sudden change of mind.

With that, the three of us left the question right where it belongs. But Raihana’s voice kept ringing in my head throughout the night: “What’s stopping you now?”

Later in the privacy of my room, the answer dawned on me, as I watched the moonlight filtered through the curtain. I am just the world’s greatest procrastinator: I twist and turn, I make redundant phone calls, I play with my boy, I flip the book I have read countless of time, and I twirl the pencils for hours on end, all before I could eventually think of the first sentence to write. There, I have said it.

I find it beyond me to slay the dragons of syntax, punctuation, grammar and contents.

What do they eat those effortless writers? I could name a few in the blogsphere: 3540 Jalan Sudin, Tunku Halim (he doesn’t really count since he is a published author), Awang Goneng, Eliza’s Haberdashery and the list is just endless.

What about that incognito Mat Bangkai who blogs at Tea & Scones? I cannot get enough of his writing. He writes his post with impeccable English ensconced with stylish flair. I bet on my last Ringgit that he doesn’t twist and turn before he writes. And Kak Teh once told me that Awang Goneng could just write – anytime, anywhere.

Recently, I chanced upon this book by Paul Raymond Martin (whoever that is) at Times bookstore. Martin writes:

“I used to preach that a writer must be disciplined. Seat of pants to seat of the chair. Write every day. Blah, blah, blah. I no longer believe that. Writing is a matter of desire, not discipline. If you want to write, that’s what you’ll do. If you want to you’ll rearrange the circumstances of your life to make it possible. If you want to write, you can’t not write”.


Martin is the fine one to be saying all that, since he hasn’t the faintest idea that creative writers are literally destitute, here in Malaysia.

Also Sire, desire I have got a plenty, it’s the talent that’s lacking. Not to mention opportunities. Thank God for WordPress though. If at all – and with enough courage and insanity in my veins – may be I should rearrange my mortgage and hire-purchase installments, chuck my day job aside and just write to my heart’s content. I couldn’t careless whether it’s good or not, I needed to do it for me – just like the air that I breathe.

On a completely irrelevant afterthought, I shall misuse this space to thank Laila for the Montblanc pen. Ah, my very first Montblanc, notwithstanding the fact that, I normally write with pencils all the time.

Good night Sleepless wherever you are.


22 thoughts on “Sleepless in Setiawangsa – 16

  1. Dear Ms Kamal

    Though I am unashamedly biased, I shall vigorously defend my contention that your lack of talent is merely a perception – and a very mistaken one at that!

    And if I may be bold enough to suggest: Your frustration really stems from an irrational unwillingness on your part to believe in how good you really are.

    I end this comment in the certainty that your many adoring fans will also attest to this.

    Dear Frank,
    You are just too kind and a tad blinded I must say. Then again, you are British, who could blame you for that? Until then, Frank.

  2. Elviza

    “He writes his post with impeccable English ensconced with stylish flair. “, eh? Now I’m blushing – and a karateka ain’t supposed to be blushing; no matter how far past their prime they may be.

    But I assure you, I twist and turn like the best of them. If my writing appears effortless in any way, you can blame it on that muse who has inspired me to write like a man possessed lately.

    Thank you for your kind words.

    Dear MB,

    I am just stating the obvious, I am sure hordes of your female fans would agree with me. You know, all the great samurais, karateka, superheroes of the world blush all the time… especially when someone touches their hearts. They are all human not stone, my friend. I believe, despite the tough exteriors, lay the softest of hearts. I know so!

    And blimey, who is that muse inspiring you to write like a man possessed? Must get myself one of those.

    You are most welcome, my friend.

  3. i love creative writing, i want to write, write and write. but… sigh. i’m always stuck at the first sentence.

    Dearest Radz,

    The above sounds very, very much like yours truly. Double sigh.

  4. elviza, ignore my words – i am a tad biased!
    thanks for introducing bangkai – will bookmark him too.

    Dearest Kak Teh,

    Of course you are biased: you married the Great Awang Goneng!

  5. Sis Elviza,

    I second Frank P Doel. The travails of childbirth, you are a writer waiting to be born.

    Your words and thoughts are seamless. There’s soul in your writing.

    I won’t dare ask you to trade lawyering for writing. But believe me, you have enriched me.

    Oh, must visit Bangkai.

    Brother Cheang,

    Just like Frank, you too, are biased! Just like aMiR, I owe you a whole lot of favors to return, for always being by my side – even when I wasn’t at my best (have I ever anyway? Doubt it!).

    I l trade lawyering or anything just to write full time. Am just waiting for the time to come (read: when someone gives me enough money to live on!)

  6. Kak Elviza,

    I read this post many times. I love the way you decribe you friends!

    U shd write chiclit story.

    Dear Kia,

    Thank you for visiting and taking the trouble to leave the words. Actually, I could go on forever describing my friends, alas, some of the details are too confidential. In fact, I have to change their names for fear that they will chop off my head the next time we meet up.

    Thank you for the support.

  7. Puan,

    Your meaningless rambles is my everyday dosage Puan…..

    But I guess creative people like yourself and those you mentioned never understand how good they really are.

    Only ordinary people like me can see it clearly.

    You can write just about anything you want to.

    What are you waiting for?

    Dear Jasmi,

    Thank you so much. I am just like you – an ordinary. 🙂 Take care and see you here again.

  8. my dear elviza,

    you are just too kind…and oh-so dramatic.

    love you, sis.

    and not because you mentioned me!

    Dearest Kak Ena,

    I love you too, Sis! For all the good time you gave us over the years and sharing that lovely sister of yours, Maria Samad, with me! See you Tuesday.

    Oh, I did tell you that I have a penchant for drama like? Guess it shows on the writing. LOL!

  9. Sis Elviza,

    I can see Kak Teh blushing. I can’t stop grinning from ear to ear. Awang Goneng’s Growing Up in Terengganu is a masterpiece.

    Brother Cheang,

    Kak Teh and Awang Goneng is who I want to be when I grow up! Yeay!

  10. tumpang lalu – hi&lo, I have been sitting in front of my laptop, trying to write something creative like elviza’s and all i get is a blank screen staring back at me. If only i can come up with something like Sleepless in Setiawangsa…I think I will try Listless in London!

    Dearest Kak Teh,

    Now you are just being modest. I read, last Friday, your entry on parent’s guide to backpacking children and almost killed myself in laughter. You had me in stitches for a good ten minutes or so. If that is not creative, I don’t know what is anymore!

  11. What is this? Awang Goneng? T Halim? Bangkai?

    I m better looking than any of them ok Elviza?

    Now would you go out on a date with me?

    Please say yes please?

    Dear Kuda Lari,

    Ah, you too, said the nicest thing. I would be happy to meet you in person but I guess we can’t call it a date, can we? I married the last man who asked me out on a date, and that sadly, made you about 8 years too late.

    I am sure you have a plenty of younger and prettier girls dying to go out on a date with you. Have a good time! And I hope to see you here again.

  12. Sis Elviza,

    Kak Teh “Listless in London?”

    Wanna share a true anecdote of a former Sabah minister during the ’70’s. He was learning to speak English. His attempts became legendary.

    One day he wanted to invite his friends to his house for dinner.

    “Easy, easy come to my house. My cock now big. I ask my wife cut my cock cook curry.”

    One day his car skidded. He described how it happened as follows:

    “I brake, brake. Brake cannot eat. Tyre no flower.”


    Listless in London sounds smack cheeky, don’t you think?

    And these account of mishaps you just wrote! *ROTFLOL*

  13. Was browsing for books but I found this charming little blog.

    What a pleasant read on a rainy saturday afternoon

    Dear Intan,

    Thank you for visiting and the pleasure to host you here is all mine. I hope to see you again in the future.

  14. Not to fret, Elviza. You are on the right track, and perhaps you already have a winning formula. Just look at the critical mass of discerning readers you have assembled here.

    I still subscribe to the view that writing, for whatever medium, is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.

    How about a follow up analysis on Permatang Pauh … from your unique and refreshing perspective?


    Dear aMiR,

    That is a whole lot of perspirations to do, my friend! Whatever I have written here, part of it, I owe it to you and your endless encouragement over the years. Really hope to see you in person if Nuraina is having one of her fabulous raya gatherings this year.

    I wanted to write more about Permatang Pauh but Amin Iskandar (Black in Korea) facebooked me and said that my idol Hishamudin Rais is doing that via his blog When I read his flawless bahasa, I thought, best I leave it to the expert. LOL.

    Take care my friend.

  15. Hah! Even when she doesn’t have much to say, she still have a story to tell.

    I can picture the furry pink shawl. -chuckle-

    U are my idol madam

    Dear Anonymous,

    Ah, you said the nicest thing. I am sure I hardly do justice to your kind words. However, I hope to tell you more stories in the future.

  16. Hellooooo! Anybody who says writing is effortless has gottabejokingme. I’m sure they labor like the rest of us wannabees – except – they just labor a lot less.

    In trying to get out of my sheep’s clothing, I have in the past devoured a slew of self-help books and read biographies of famous writers and only to be despaired by their heroics and genius. Or specifically by MY lack of heroics or genius. Ha ha. The things these demi-Gods had to go through before finding their ‘writer’s voice’. Click clacking away on a typewriter only the rip the paper to shreds, months on end holed up in a loft in a barn. These days we got computers to be thankful for – along with spell-check and online dictionaries/ thesaurus’…

    To me I respect all writers who make the attempt because it’s the hardest thing there is. Thanks for your honesty, and for sharing it with us.

    Its the ultimate labor of love, Mish. And that’s what we love you for it.

    Hello back my favourite brother!

    It’s so good to know that you are in touch with the cyberworld despite being in the swamp and all. 🙂 You know, we are all so writers wannabes. The way I see it, hey, at least I am honest about it! So heck with it.

    You did all that? I mean read all those self-help books and people you adore the writings? Oh well, I just speak to dead poets in the privacy of my library. Once Jefree caught me me doing that and he was convinced that I am sick in the head. Now, I know why I am not getting anywhere!

    But its true my brother, it’s an ultimate labor of love, it’s like the air that I breathe. As I told you, I needed to do it for me to the exclusion of others.

    I am sure I will, somehow, someday (no matter how long) make it. The number of twisting and turning before that happens has no meaning at all, to me at least.

    Thank you bro, for always making me feel like a million bucks. Are you back during the fasting month or nearing Raya?

  17. Wow, Isham is your idol too? Am I surprised? A tad, may be. You mean, you would rather spend an hour with him, than an hour with other flamboyant personalities like SheiKh, orAnuar Zain, or even KJ?

    Yes, bloggers are so indispensable at a momentous time right now. They are so resourceful and eager to share their wealth of information. I so pity the TV3 newsreaders who read their texts without any conviction. My commiseration also goes to established and Establishment journalists who keep churning out stale and jaded analysis, against their better judgement.

    As for you dear, we fully respect you for respecting us, and proud of you for being proud of us. See you soon, insyaAllah.


    Dear aMiR,

    Fascinating huh? The fact that I adore Hishamudin Rais? I am addicted to his column ‘Tapai’ featured every month in Off The Edge. I don’t agree on some of his political opinions, but hey, isn’t that what freedom of speech is all about.

    See you soon, insyaAllah…

  18. Sis Elviza,

    You write with a voice of your own.

    OK, another Sabah joke. Soon after the referendum on Malaysia, the major chiefs of Sabah were flown to London to sign the Malaysia Agreement.

    The natives had to walk a few days to reach the nearest town to catch a truck to go to the capital.

    Finally, they were all at the airport. Soon after take-off, the captain announced that the plane had to return to the airport due to some technical problems.

    Upon landing, the natives looked out of the window. “Tak sangka London macam Sabah juga.”

    Then they wondered why they had to take a plane as London seemed nearer to KK than their kampongs.

    Dear Cheang,

    Again – ROTFLOL

  19. Salam,
    I am amazed really that a writer your stature found others to be far superior. Now let me tell you for once and all… you are one heck of a writer… a great one. Okay? And this old man looks up to your entry and forever and ever berangan to write as good. There… now go write…

    Dear Mior/Bapak,

    Thank you so much for the vote of confidence. I really appreciate it and I take this comment as an encouragement to keep on writing my crap away. 🙂

  20. Dear Miss Elviza,
    This adoration by your legend of fan keep me wondering…

    Yes Mr Kalahari (I am hot)… do you care to finish your sentence, Sire?

  21. Reading all the big names you mentioned and including yourself made me sort of scared about writing. Dahlah tulis tunggang-terbalik…and I write simply to tell family and friends all over the world that I’m still alive since I promised not to go missing again.

    Perhaps, I should start writing “Clueless in Taman Melawati”

    Dear Azlin,

    Ignore me being pompous and shallow okay? 🙂

    Writing is to each her own, sister. At least, I think so.

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