I flunked the written

Between trains, Dhoby Ghaut #MRT #station, North-East Line platform. #nofilter #Singapore #subway #staircase #underground #commuting #weekend

The past six months haven't been very productive for me in terms of fiction writing, but there are three non-fiction pieces I've written that I'm pretty pleased with.

It started in March when Juria Toramae asked if I would write a short foreword for the catalogue for her art exhibition, "Points of Departure" at the National Library. The foreword's not available online, but you can borrow the catalogue from the library.

After that, my friend Ernest Goh was staging a solo art photography exhibition, "Breakfast at 8 Jungle at 9" at Objectifs – Centre for Photography and Filmmaking, and he asked if I would write some kind of introduction or commentary on his work. The result: I wrote an essay [PDF] about the three photography series he presented at the show, in which I managed to weave in a couple of my own recent obsessions with ancient humans and the Holocene, alongside a reading of Ernest's work.

That was in May. In June I whipped out another piece for the upcoming TwentyFifteen.sg photography exhibition at the Esplanade. I've been the project's resident text editor since it started in August 2013, working with an excellent (all-volunteer) team, and it was nice to kick back (metaphorically speaking) and reflect on the project as a whole. The exhibition opens only on 6 August, but my essay "Points of View" is already online.

Justin Zhuang's essay for the same exhibition, "Picturing Home, Wherever We May Be", is also online and it is just beautiful. So read that, even if you don't read mine.

I must thank Juria, Ernest, and my old friends Tay Kay Chin and Darren Soh of TwentyFifteen.sg for having faith in me and letting me build words around their images and artworks. I don't think I could've dived into this mode of writing and found my groove so quickly without their encouragement and openness in discussing their work with me.

I'm planning to switch gears back to fiction writing for the rest of the year, but there's one more exhibition essay I'm stewing on. Also, watching 7 Letters at the newly-restored Capitol Theatre on Friday night got my brain humming about some things.

And hey, it looks like #sgelection is on the cards.

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A good weekend

More #writerly gifts, this time from a thoughtful friend. The #Moleskine #Voyageur will be handy when I'm in Iowa. 7 weeks to go!

I just bought an annual multi-trip travel insurance plan for the first time ever, which is pretty much a commitment to what I want to do in the next 12 months. The insurance kicks in next month when I leave for the International Writers Program at the University of Iowa, and sets me up for some other travel plans I'm hatching for November and part of 2016.

Now all I have to do, theoretically, is find the money and willpower to make those plans happen.

I blame all this firmly on Adri, by the way. We had drinks on Tuesday night and while she didn't say anything directly, something about hanging out with her must've nudged my brain cells in a certain direction, which is how I ended up saying out loud, "Maybe I should go to Cuba."

Buying the travel insurance, mundane as it sounds, caps off a pretty unexpectedly top-notch holiday weekend. Nothing earth-shatteringly special, but the simple pleasures of spending time with family, friends and an indulgent amount of Lana cake.

Today the #Lanacake came with pink and orange ribbons, lovingly crimped by the auntie in the shop. #nofilter #Singapore #cake #comfortfood #Singaporeboleh #oldschool #hungryalready

Other achievements unlocked during this weekend:
  • Went for a morning run for the first time in over a decade --- admittedly, only because I was already awake to got visit Sungei Buloh, and then the friends who'd organised the outing had to bail because one of them was sick. But hey: I went for a 2.6 km run anyway.
  • Spoke for about an hour about the social history of Capitol Theatre to an almost full-house audience, who'd turned up for my talk at the right place and the right time (the Urban Redevelopment Authority function room at 10 a.m.), even though I'd cheekily titled the talk "Meet at Capitol Lobby, 6 p.m.". I might've used the word atas too many times in the talk without explaining it for the benefit of non-Singlish speakers, though (it's Malay for "upper", used to connote "high-class" or "snobbish").
  • Learned about Schera's Algerian-American Restaurant in Elkader, Iowa, which so far sounds like the most interesting place to stop for lunch on my way to Iowa City.
I seem to be tweeting a lot more lately, so follow me there while I still try to figure out what this blog might be good for.

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