i knew this day was coming, but i kept on going anyway, until it’s finally here. the day when i finished writing a story.

that doesn’t sound too big of a deal, does it? but it is a big deal to me. because this story has occupied my head (and heart) for around 15 years. until now. now it’s finally there, black on white, albeit only inside the computer and not printed out, but still.

when i was around 8 or 9, i had this small notebook, in which i would write short stories. i started doing this because i once saw a classmate of mine writing her short stories into her own notebook, and she wouldn’t let anyone read it. she said i especially couldn’t read it, because she wrote something inspired by me and this other classmate (a boy) that the whole class seemed to think had a thing for me, LOL. i guess i decided then that i could write my own story if she wouldn’t let me read hers, so i did. the short stories i wrote were all based on what i experienced, or what the people around me experienced. i would make a few illustrations too, since my real passion was drawing after all. after writing around 6 or 7 stories, i ran out of ideas. 😀 and i guess i decided that drawing was much better, so i moved on to… making comics.

oh, those were the days when Japanese manga was something new and exciting, so i began to draw comics. i’d staple 4 sheets of A4 papers in the middle, fold them, and start drawing on it. after i was done drawing in all of the pages, hey presto! it’s a comic book! 😉 just like before, i drew what i knew. girls, elementary school life, the beginning of puberty, etc.

after a while, i moved on to drawing on A4 papers, without making it into a book. 1 sheet of A4 drawn on both sides, and that’s it, one “volume” of a very short manga, to be continued to the next A4 paper. after this mode, i moved on to drawing on blank loose leaf, and this way i could always add new pages whenever i felt like it. sometimes i even drew 2 different mangas at the same time (2 different stories altogether), so whenever i was bored with the other one, i could switch to the other, and vice versa.

i went quite far with drawing. i even attended a manga school. yes, seriously. i was around 20 by this time. i had a Japanese mangaka teaching us how to draw manga the REAL way, and the papers we used were B4 sized. well, that’s a bit hard to get, but then i practiced using A3 papers, which is a tiny bit bigger than B4. again i started many mangas at once, switching between this one and that one.

simultaneously, i started writing again. in high school, i wrote horror stories (hey, RL Stine was popular back then!), and then in college, i wrote light romantic stories (highly influenced by my fascination over Japanese drama series).

unfortunately, all of these “projects” had one thing in common. they’d die before they were even finished. i did manage to finish one manga when i was in middle school, but it was one of those that i lost interest with and decided to put the word “the end”, just so that it would end, LOL. another unfortunate thing is that they’re all probably gone, all those hundreds or thousands of papers, during all the recurring floods at my parent’s house.

about 2 years ago, i felt the need to write again. i was thinking, well, i probably won’t finish this, AGAIN, what else is new. but i had to let it out somewhere, these stories i had in my head. it got very near to the end, before i again put it on hold. again, i began to feel that it’s just way too cheesy, i didn’t have the energy to turn into a blue cheese myself, LOL.

by the end of last year, something suddenly came back to me. a story i had in my head when i was around 14, that i never got the chance to write or draw, except for the 3 main characters. and then i thought, hmm… what if i start to write that now? and the funny thing was, i actually already have the ending in my head too. not just the ending, but also the beginning, and the middle part.

so i began writing it late last December. i started at the end, and continued with the beginning. all the free time i had, i used it to write. it was almost like magic, since the story had been in my head for so long, writing it down didn’t even take that long. those times when i didn’t write, i would use to write down the “sketches”, scenes to fill in the gaps between the main ideas that were already done in my head. connecting the beginning to the middle and to the end. sometimes, i felt like going back to my old habit, to leave the story unfinished. but for some reason, i always managed to push myself to go back to writing it, come on, just one more page, one more, and one more, yes, that’s it… and before i knew it, i was back on the roll.

before i knew it, i was writing the last page of the last chapter. before i knew it, i already reached the 435th page of my story. before i knew it, i typed the last dot. period. the end.

and then, it hit me. the empty feeling afterwards.

this is something i’ve never felt, obviously, since i never did finish any story before this one. my husband said, i should feel happy that i’ve finally finished my writing. he said that it’s not really “gone” from me, but it’s now somewhere that i can read over and over again, and i don’t even have to try to remember how the story goes anymore, because it is now written down.

but i guess i’m still in a surreal mode right now, not quite believing that i’ve actually created a finished product that took years of process. it’s a different thing than when i finish sewing something, because, well, when i sew something, it usually lasts for 3 days at the max.

this one was, and is, so dear to me. i never told the story to anyone at all, and now it’s almost like i’ve shouted it to the whole world (even though i haven’t). well, okay, not really, but when you’re done creating something you’ve only had in your head all this time, you’d feel like you have, in a way, told it to the world… right? because now it’s there. it’s inside my computer, and i’ve sent it to my sister and mum to read and edit (hopefully, if they’re willing to!). it’s no longer just yours. it’s for someone, ANYONE else to see and read… to think about… to enjoy.

and now what?

yes, maybe i’ll try to publish it. maybe the empty feeling would subside after my story is really out there, or maybe it’ll just get worse. i don’t know.

what do writers do after finishing their writings, anyway? how do they get over the empty feeling inside, or am i the only one feeling it?

the art of story-telling

after doing this test 2 weeks ago, i got reminded of my long-postponed project.
a few background stories first though, since i’m feeling chatty tonight (as in, talking to myself, that’s what ).

when i was in 3rd grade, i & my 2 classmates made this “business” where we’d staple some tiny pages of paper together so it’d look like a book, and drew some doodles & created silly stories. then we’d “sell” it to our other classmates, where they’d pay us with phoney money.
it stopped after around 3 days, cuz our teacher found that out.

then on the 5th grade, i & yet another classmate made comic books, which was based on our real life. the idea was the same, we’d staple some (a bit bigger) pages of paper together so it’d look like a book, and actually used rulers to make the comic strips.
then we’d draw straight there, using pencils and of course, no shadings or whatsoever.
on volume 2, we stopped dead. i guess it just happened because our friendship was also somewhat ending.

then, i made comics on my own. oh yes. those days.
first i’d make them on A4 papers (landscape), still using rulers and pencils.
as time went by, i got to know a thing called loose leaf + folder, so i then drew there.
i don’t even remember anymore how many comics i’ve made, but it’s more than 5, i can tell you that! and i’ve actually managed to finish ONE, though my sister (who was the only reader, also my biggest fan, har har!) said that the story didn’t match with the title as the ending didn’t even conclude anything at all (which was true. i was just tired of that comic, and wanted to end it. lol.)

when i was drawing those comics, i found that i had these expressions on my face that’s exactly portrayed on my characters. weird huh.
i mean, when i tried to draw my character being happy, i found myself smiling. when i tried to make them angry, i found myself frowning. and so on.

then, came the time when i actually went to a manga school. i learned to draw in bigger “canvas”, ink them, use copics and screen tones. i also went to a fashion design course, in which i learned how to exaggerate human anatomy, learn the body contours, how to ink & shade them, etc.

afterwards, during college, i & my 3 friends created our so-called collab manga, where we each had our own characters, we all drew our own characters, but they’re all joined in the same adventure. that sounded greater than it actually was, we never got around to finish it, of course (what else is new??).

in the meantime, back when i was in high school, i began reading loads of R.L. Stine’s novels. as in, horror novels. unsatisfied by the sometimes-too-cheesy ghost stories (those are the kinds that attract me most, even now), i decided to make my own. in English.
i got around to chapter 5 this time, if i’m not mistaken, before once again, the papers prolly got flooded somewhere (yes, i actually wrote it down to pieces of paper!) or then i just deliberately forgot to continue it.

in college, as i watched lots of J-dorama, i AGAIN began writing some cheesy love story which was set in Osaka. i even had in mind who i wanted to play those characters if it were to become an actual J-dorama one day, ROTFL. fat chance.
on around the 4th chapter, i finally gave up since i didn’t know SQUAT about Osaka.
i do still have the story in my head though, maybe one day when i finally don’t feel too lazy anymore to do a bit of research, i will finish it. that’s a BIG maybe.

somehow, though, all these “starting up a project and never finishing them” didn’t stop me from doing it again . i can’t help it, i guess. i love reading, either books or comics.
i also am a dreamer, making up stories in my head the whole time.

so last year, specifically in January, i started it again, writing something.
after getting into chapter 3, after a few paragraphs, i stopped yet again.

but then i took that test, and what do you know? i should’ve been a writer afterall!
i don’t know what happened then, i suddenly just got bursts of ideas again, and continued that writing.

then, i find that i smile when my character’s happy, and become distracted when i write how sad my character is. on days when i have to go to work, i can’t help thinking what my character(s) are feeling, what they are thinking now, it’s as if they’re my children.
well, they are, in a way, since they’re my creations.

i don’t know yet how long this bursts of ideas are gonna last, i hope it’ll last until i finally, FINALLY, finish at least ONE whole complete story. i don’t even dare giving it a title yet, let alone showing it to anyone.
so yeah, i don’t know where this is going, but i won’t let this one become stranded in the middle.

btw, this new story i’m writing is in Indonesian. in a way, it’s a good chance for me to keep on practising my mother tongue, and on the other hand, it may be handy if i decide to push my luck & try publishing it in my home country (not making any promises here!).