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Wait? We have a writing scene?

On some mornings, if I'm lucky, I'll be able to find a copy of The Sun lying on the seat in the LRT when I enter. Today was such a morning. And the other sun - the real, big ball-of-gas one - was even out too.

In today's edition of The Sun, on page 18, in the U! section (which isn't linked online... yet), there is an article written by Joanna Van, headlined, "The Write Stuff". The gist of the article is this: Ms. Van talks with four college students between the ages of 19 - 22 about the Malaysian Writing Scene.

*cue horror theme*

These four students's opinion of the local writing scene is that it is almost non-existent, as is voiced by Erin Chong, "Wait? We have a writing scene?"

Very observant.

Fortunately, all of them agree that there is a problem with Malaysian Writing. They are quick to point their fingers at the culprits:
"Censorship!"; "People don't read!"; Narrow-minded teachers!"; "Money-minded parents!"
Yes, yes. Those are very real problems. Of course. But there's also one other problem that they haven't pointed out: No self-initiative.

Yes, that's right! You punks got no initiative, yo! You can talk all you want about how Malaysians aren't encouraged to write because of [insert reason here] but if you don't start doing something about it yourself, it doesn't mean a thing; it's all a lot of hot air. Do something about it, write something yourself, and contribute to the local writing scene of which - I assure these students - it is very much existent, and alive, and probably could even be considered vibrant (but depends on who you ask, really).

And stop saying things like, "we have a writing scene?" It betrays a level of ignorance that's just flabbergastingly miserable. If you cared at all about the writing scene, you'd know it exists.

A little kudos however, to one of the students, Ashvini, who tried to educate her comrades about the "scene". No surprise there, Ashvini happens to be one of my fellow writers in "Write Out Loud".


  1. Yohohoho...Ted! Good one! Just because they don't write, they blame their inability to write to the censor thing. Actually laa, if the gomen gonna censor your writing about sensitive issues like race, religion or politics, you still have lots of things under the sun to write wer...right?

    I think they prefer thumb-texting, games and others than to weave words. Tough job mah.

  2. Yea lar... know how to talk big only these fellers.

  3. Or maybe it's just not too visible (yet). Bet these same students know there is a thriving local music scene although they may not be a fan. Bet these same students know there's a still alive local malay movie scene although they won't buy a cinema ticket to watch one.

    I'm in the opinion the local writing scene lacks exposure. BUT .. it is slowly getting some. Thanks to the efforts of some good people *wink.

  4. I dunno... music and movies are "easy" entertainment. It's easier to be exposed to them. Books on the other hand tend to get ignored or avoided even when people try to expose them more. The way I see it is, the problem isn't that the local writing scene lacks exposure, it's that the people don't care whether they're being exposed to it or not.

  5. Saya merasakan bahawa pelajar-pelajar di universiti tempat saya bekerja sememangnya tidak mempunyai keinginan untuk membaca. Jangankan buku yang berkaitan dengan pelajaran malah buku cerita yang dapat membina minat dan watak seseorang pun tidak pernah dihadapnya.

    today British Council came to promote their online library which is linked to 20 extremely useful databases. It's only 50 bucks per year but no one subscribed except for me and a few other academicians. Sad aint it?

  6. Sad indeed. But I don't think it's just your university.

    Besides, why would college students want to read? Reading, by itself, does not guarantee:

    a) scoring in exams
    b) scoring of hot chicks/guys
    c) unrestricted access to latest music and movies

    And because nobody reads, nobody writes. And when they do, the writing sucks.

  7. Nobody reads so nobody writes. That's a vicious cycle. But there is hope . . . right here in blog land where everyone is writing!

    Some bloggers can write. Some bloggers want to be heard. And bloggers read other blogs . . . so writing and reading is beginning to happen.

    Let's slaughter a chicken. Our sacrifice to the writing Gods!

  8. Ha! You can slaughter the cow at the top if you want. Got more where they came from...

  9. I agree with sharkgila. Lack of exposure is the culprit, not the college students' attitude. Be fair - u say if they were interested in writing, they would know about the writing scene... Duh! Don't forget that the writing scene can be rather daunting... Our music & movie scene gets big corporates and to sponsor and promote and whathaveyou... And our writing scene has.... MPH??!? Uhhmm, not cool man...

  10. Excuses, excuses.

    Whether MPH is a "cool" company is irrelevant. If you want to write, you write, daunting or not. And when you write, you will have the initiative to find like-minded people.

    That is how you discover the scene. Not while waiting for a "cool" corporate image to turn up and hand out sponsors.

    Lack of exposure happens because nobody wants themselves to get exposed.

  11. Ewah,ewah, Ted, kuatnya sahutan anda about not needing a cool name as sponsor. I like the way you defend this. Cool, man!

  12. Mwahaha! Badan cergas, minda cerdas, maka sahutan pun kuat :p


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