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Posts Tagged ‘Singapore author’

Over the weekend, I ran my second Writer in the Gardens workshop at Gardens by the Bay. I took 20 families on a walk through a lesser known part of the Gardens to soak in the ambience and let our imagination wander with story ideas. With so much happening, I didn’t do a headcount and forgot the group photo but with parents and kids, I think we ended up with a sizeable group of about 50 people.

I was pleasantly surprised by a few friends from the past who showed up for the workshop. Two were my secondary schoolmates who brought their daughters for the workshop.

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With my secondary schoolmates and & daughters (Photo credit: Eleanor Kor)

An ex-colleague whom I have not seen in years came with her son. And a new friend I recently got to know in the past 6 months brought her daughter.

After setting the tone for the workshop with a short powerpoint (in the aircon of Canonball Room), we headed out at 5pm, which was a lovely time for a walk through the Gardens.

We stopped at 3 locations, where I asked the children to create a villain character at the Petrified Wood (at Location 1), draw magical creatures at the Understory/Mushroom Dome (at Location 2) and imagine what sort of magic created the Web of Life creatures (at Location 3).

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Photo credit (Ong Puay See)

Photo credit (Ong Puay See)

 

 

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 Photo credit (Ong Puay See)

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I hope the children took away ideas and new perspectives about finding stories in the Gardens and places all around us. Meanwhile, I also have homework to do as I hunker down to work on my Residency manuscript inspired by the Gardens!  

A blogger mum (Angie of Growing Hearts 123) brought her kids and wrote a lovely comprehensive review of the workshop here. Thank you Angie!

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I was invited to write an essay titled “Survival and Success as a Singapore Author”, based on the same panel topic I spoke on at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) in 2013. This was published in One Big Story – Delving Deeper into Asian Children’s Literature, an AFCC publication recently launched at AFCC 2014. It was edited by Dr Myra Garces-Bacsal, founder of Gathering Books.

I’m reproducing an extract:

AFCC Publication on Asian's Children Literature

AFCC Publication on Asian’s Children Literature

I have been surviving as an author in Singapore since end of 2007 when I wrote my first picture book Prince Bear & Pauper Bear. Pauper Bear, a mute teddy bear whose toymaker had forgotten to stitch him a mouth, was inspired by my own story of coming down with a rare voice disorder called Spasmodic Dysphonia.

It appeared like I was off to a successful start with my first book:

  • I won a publishing grant as a winner of the Book Council’s First Time Writer’s Publishing Initiative for the first children’s picture book manuscript I wrote in 2007.
  • I got signed on by one of the top U.S. literary agencies which submitted the book to publishers.

Then, I learnt to never assume a book’s success by its first award and first agent. One year and 16 rejections later, my agent felt she had exhausted their agency list of big publisher contacts for my book and our relationship ended. It was also the start of the U.S. financial crisis, and my dream of becoming a rich and famous author collapsed along with the market.

I turned to my husband and asked him if he could support both of us financially whilst I work my way to a viable income. Fortunately, he has since forgotten that conversation and I have been able to continue writing. Rewarding as it has been, it is hard to survive purely on an author’s income in Singapore. The few of us who work as children’s book authors earn additional income from other jobs and freelance work.

As a rare breed in Singapore trying to eke this out as a career (or calling), I have had to develop many survival skills and qualities beyond just honing the craft of writing:

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