"Write What?" addendum #1: writing and editing courses in Singapore

On Friday night, at the invitation of Six Degrees, I gave an informal talk "Write What --- Freelance writing opportunities in the Singapore market", during which I maundered about:
  • Different types of freelance writing work.
  • Looking beyond the obvious employers/clients.
  • How clients select freelancers.
  • Getting started as a new writer.
Some of the interesting questions that were raised during and after the session were the kind that are best answered with web links, so here's the first of perhaps several follow-up posts I'll try to put up.

Question: What kinds of writing and editing courses are out there in Singapore?

The ones I'm aware of (and I'm restricting the list to non-creative writing courses here):
Of the above, I've only ever interacted with the National Book Development Council of Singapore. They organised a very useful and well-attended talk by American literary agent Kelly Sonack last year, and way back in 2003 I attended an editing course run by their Centre for Literary Arts and Publishing. Both were excellent, truly, but as with most of these things, it really depends on who the trainer is and what their professional experience (and presentation/teaching skills) are like.

Besides getting information directly from associations and companies themselves, there are also heaps of mailing lists and writers' groups out there (though no one definitive writers' community/network). More about that in the next post.

Edited to add (11:34 p.m.):
If you've come across other writing or editing courses in Singapore, please feel free to add them in the comments. (This is the one of the few times I'll allow commercial solicitations on my blog.)

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The good, the bad and ...

A Singapore-centric link that I thought was pretty cool: We Like SG (via Daniel).

A Singapore-related photograph that made me sick to my stomach: "Scary parade banner" (via Kai on Facebook).

No wonder I have a love-hate relationship with this country.



Foamy Latte Problems

Earlier today, I tweeted:
Felt totally passé using my MacBook at a cafe today. Yes, this is clearly a Foamy Latte Problem (TM @dbarefoot http://bit.ly/doCzgC)
The shortened URL links to Darren Barefoot's blog entry, "Single Serving Site Idea: Foamy Latte Problems", where he defines Foamy Latte Problems as:
... “the trivial problems which Westerners find absorbing in their own lives” or “banal issues we obsess over because our lives are, from a global and historical perspective, astonishingly easy and luxurious”.
When people ask me what I've been doing lately, I feel like everything I mention is a Foamy Latte Problem. Like running around trying to find the right legal entity to authenticate copies of my passport for a UK bank account application. Or squinting at faded stamps in my expired passport to track down every last detail of every overseas trip I've made in the last ten years (UK student visa application requirement). Or figuring out how to pack and store my furniture and personal belongings for the year I'll be away.

So you know, I've been busy, but by no means has anything been bad. I still have time and energy to think about wrangling myself an iPad (sold out all over Singapore, with new stock scheduled vaguely to arrive in two to three weeks). I received a gorgeous and totally unexpected farewell gift from some dear friends last night (while discovering the wonders of chye poh tofu at an HDB coffeeshop cze char stall). I have enough time to spend with family and friends (and cats!) whom I'll really miss when I'm away. Life is good, yo.

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Sometimes I wake up early on a Sunday

Sunday's Southern Ridge Walk
Taken by inju

It's not that you can't do the Southern Ridges at other times of the day. It's just that in the mornings the air is cooler, the birds might still deign to give you a tweet or two, and if you get really lucky, you might get to see a bunch of white-breasted laughing thrushes nibbling on breakfast at Kent Ridge Park.

I failed to compose any sufficiently pithy 140-character tweets that could name all my friends and walking kaki (pals), but hey, there were a fair number of us, including some with long Twitter handles: otterman, Kevin Lim, budak, acroamatic, @spoonrabbit and a few other people whose online identities I might've missed.

The weather got a little hot by the time we reached the Henderson Waves bridge, so we didn't linger as long out there as I would've liked to. The other places I didn't linger were anywhere on a high canopy-walk bridge where you could look down through the bridge flooring and see exactly how high above the ground you were. I'm really not very good with heights if I'm forced to think about them.

The final tally, thanks to acroamatic's RunKeeper log of our route: 9.16 km in 2 hours, 17 minutes. I've been meaning to do the entire Southern Ridges walk for some time, so it's nice now that I've seen it and I can not just talk about it theoretically anymore.



Plus ça change

The thing about struggling with paperwork all day, is that it makes it very near impossible to blog afterwards.

So for updates on all the outrageous government behaviour that's been brewing in Singapore recently, I'll have to direct you to:
  • Siew Kum Hong's reflections on how the government has responded to the recent flash foods, "Sorry seems to be the hardest word".
  • The Online Citizen's coverage of the arrest of British author Alan Shadrake for criminal defamation. Shadrake just launched his book Once A Jolly Hangman, about Singapore's use of the death penalty. He has now been charged with contempt of court. (See also the Guardian for reports if you prefer traditional media.) It is an understatement of the year when I say that the way the whole arrest has been handled sends a shiver down my spine.
  • This last piece of news is so new, I've only seen it on a mailing list and a personal Facebook note. But it's not secret: the Media Development Authority of Singapore has ask that one of the plays participating in Short + Sweet 2010, Nuns Gone Wild!, be withdrawn. From what I understand, the 10-minute comedy was about three nuns fantasising about/re-enacting love and sex, without any references to religion.
The Media Development Authority, by the way, are the same people who made a police report against the British author Shadrake, and whose stated mission is to "develop Singapore into a vibrant global media city as well as foster a creative economy and a connected society." Oh, and they're also the state censors.

Can I just say again that censorship is not the way forward, that all we are seeing is the state arresting or censuring people without being beholden to give any clear, cogent and logical explanations why they are doing so? Which is ridiculous for a developed country with developed-world aspirations, and a population of people who are not clueless or uninformed.

Also, if you haven't yet, please consider signing to support the arts community's position paper on censorship and regulation.

I was going to catalogue all the mundane things I did today in the name of paperwork, but after reviewing all the weighty news above, that would be too inane. I would like to think that tomorrow's news will be brighter, but sometimes I feel like I will come back from London after a year and find everything exactly as I left it.



Sooner than you think

Just before I fell ill over the weekend, I realised that although I don't have have an air ticket yet, in less than two months I will move to London.

Less than two months!!

At that time, I hadn't finalised plans for what I was going to do about my current apartment lease and my two cats. As of Sunday (in the middle of being ill), those matters were cordially settled: a friend is going to sign a new lease with my landlady and take care of my cats till I'm back and I can store some of my stuff here (yay!). As of tonight, I am a grateful recipient of a Chevening Scholarship.

Which means I really have run out of excuses and I need to start sorting/throwing junk/boxing up my things/packing my suitcases, stat.

I knew about the Chevening Scholarship some months back, but then the newly elected UK government called a financial review and there was a little uncertainty about the details until a few weeks ago. Tonight I received my scholarship certificate and scholarship contract at a lovely little ceremony at Eden Hall (which tickled me all the more because this is the same Eden Hall of the "Eden Hall tea party" of 1961 --- see page 396 of Singapore: A Biography). People were delightful, the house was amazing and, as they say, a good time was had by all.

This morning I finally drew up a to-do list, which makes me feel like I've plucked all the stray thoughts that have been flittering around my mind and stabbed them onto a sheet of paper with a pin. Yeah, not so fun.

If anyone has advice to offer on:
  • How to set up a UK bank account while I'm still in Singapore, without incurring obnoxious bank fees, or
  • Flatshares in central London that are within a roughly 45-minute commute to Goldsmiths,
please leave a comment or contact me. Much obliged!



Waiting to feel better

I didn't mean to let so much time lapse since my last post (almost half a month, ack), but first I got busy, then I got sick.

Still sick. On the mend, but crankypants. Bah.

More soon, when merely cracking open the laptop doesn't wear me out.