There were two men sitting in a restaurant discussing life over a plate of fried chicken and a mug of beer. The young man seemed harried; he had just gotten off the phone with his father, who told him that he was eating too unhealthy, drinking too much, and staying out far too late. Knowing the young man quite well, and thus was sure the young man was simply being too hard on himself, the old man asked the young man a question:

“Have you heard the story about the man who only ate healthy foods, and never drank, and never stayed out, and never spoke a bad word but yet he died a happy man?”

“No,” the young man said.

The old man took a hearty swig of his beer and set it down on the table, wiping his lips with satisfaction. “Me neither.”

I wasn’t super productive this month in terms of writing, but this month was very positive overall and I’m happy about it. Here’s a quick recap:

Personally …

1. I told the truth.
This month I got to exorcise some demons that were holding me back. Got a lot of stuff off my chest. If you haven’t read it yet, check out my two posts Confessions Part 1 and Confessions Part 2.

2. I started living a healthier lifestyle, but mostly I just chilled.
I guess you can say this was a transitional month or even that I took the month off. Because for the most part, it was mostly spent healing, getting my mind right, doing some self-reflecting, and of course a good amount of chillin’ with friends. Burgers and beers, people.

But recently, maybe the past week or so, I’ve been managing myself better in terms of the day-to-day stuff. I’ve been getting my priorities straight and trying to center myself. I spend a lot of time morning journaling and it helps me get my thoughts in order. I feel much more balanced now.

Writing-ly …

1. I’m letting myself be guided by my artistic impulses that don’t really fit with my overall game plan.
I wrote a short story; something like a metaphor. It’s called “A Boy and His Balloon”. I’ve commissioned a talented artist to do the artwork for the cover and hoping to do something interesting with it. I’m considering it a multi-media project. Very short, but happy with where it’s going. This has zero commercial viability. And it doesn’t fit with the whole “thriller” thing that I’m trying to do, but to hell with it. It’s fun.

2. I opened back up two work-in-progress short stories.
Sent them out for some feedback to trusted readers, seeing where to take things. One is solid. The other one is proving rather frustrating. But that’s the game. Sometimes you crack them on the first shot (and be thankful when you do). And other times, it takes several drafts.

3. I continued outlining a novel!
Yeah, the short stories are the focus these days, but I still find myself drawn to the bigger narratives. It’s very rough, but has lots of potential.

Well, this post kind of seems like a jumbled mess. But for anyone concerned out there, really, I’m in a good space right now. Thanks for all the support 🙂

New short story comes out in April. Title: “Memories from Someone I’ll Never Know”

-Peter

It was 3 AM at a sooljip in Bundang and a friend that I hadn’t seen in nearly a year let me know what he thought about me: “You’re too careful.”

By that he meant that I tend to be too guarded, that I don’t open up to people. I’m rather tight-lipped about my personal life and my opinions. And it’s true. I usually play my cards really close to the chest. I don’t know why I do it. Perhaps it’s a self-defense mechanism. I think it comes from my agreeable personality trait, or the society that I grew up in; I’m so concerned with how people perceive me that I wind up saying nothing at all.

But recently, I’ve realized that, by being overly concerned with protecting my neck, I haven’t shown people the real me. Either way, I realized that I am pretty guarded. I’ve just hoped that people would take me at face value. But the accusation made me think. Then, if not the raw truth, what have I been showing people? At best, a veneer. At worst, a lie. One of the banes of my existence is the politician who is serpentine with their words; orating something that I call “non-speak”- a carefully crafted and articulate response yet containing nothing of actual substance. Have I become something that I despise?

And I’ve been thinking about this overall characteristic has been affecting my writing. If withholding our thoughts, ideas, and personal information (refraining from speaking the truth) in our everyday lives can be detrimental to our personal life, then can it also hurt our writing? And of course the antithesis of that; would being an unbridled truth-teller liberate us to freely express ourselves in writing? And since the highest form of writing is self-expression, shouldn’t every artist strive to speak the truth in every arena, not just their chosen mediums?

Hemingway said that the writer’s job is to tell the truth. So if to write is to tell the truth, then the highest quality of a writer then is honesty. And since writing, or the state of being a writer, for many, forms the very fabric with which they weave their lives, then of course being a truth teller should permeate every aspect of their being, not just when they are engaged with work.

What does this mean for me? Simply put, it means being honest with myself.
I can’t only speak the truth in storytelling. I need to embrace truth everywhere. In my personal life, in the banalities of daily living, in conversations, in love.

I used to think that being truthful could hurt me, but now I regard it as a source of strength. Because great writers are honest. I can learn something from that.

February has come and gone and we’re in the middle of March now. What’s the cliche? “Where does the time go?” The weather is changing. Hopefully I’ll be inspired by Mother Nature and I’ll change along with it. February was a tough month to stay focused on work, honestly, but I’ll give an update. It’s long overdue, but they say better late than never. So here goes nothing:

1. I released my short story The Revolver.
Published the first of ten short stories 🙂 It’s gotten some reads and also some kind reviews from people that I am very grateful for. It’s really been a humbling experience to have people connect with your writing. It kind of reinforced the idea of why I started doing this creative stuff in the first place. I’ve been writing “in the dark” for quite a long time and it’s good to come out and share stories with people.

2. Outlined a novel (sort of)
In terms of actual writing pages, I did some tinkering on a new story. By no means is it finished, but it’s got some interesting potential and I’m exploring some different avenues for it. I’m not putting anything in stone yet, which is something I’ve tended to do before; shoehorn the story into what I wanted it to be rather than exploring different alleyways. It’s a non-linear approach, but I’m hoping it’ll be a good tweak in the process.

3. Wrote words on the page (a little bit)
Again, not the most productive month, but oscillated between a number of short story ideas. Didn’t complete them all but worked on each one quite a bit. I think this may have been somewhat of a mistake. Perhaps focusing on one or two would have been more beneficial. Focus is better. Still playing with my style.

So that’s where I’m at. I’ve got a bunch of half-baked ideas and unfinished treatments tucked away in the vault and I’m hoping they can come to fruition soon. I’m going to be dropping a few more updates on the blog this month hopefully to explain to everyone what’s been going on with me personally.

If you’re reading this, thanks 🙂

All the best,
Peter

First update of 2018!

Last month, I made a new goal to write 10 short stories this year and January was the first month of that new direction. I didn’t totally crush this month like I wanted to, but I did make some accomplishments. I completed two short stories and they are currently in the editing pipeline.

Here are some quick highlights of January:

1. Writing Process.
January was all about falling back into the process of writing. I tried to establish a writing schedule, and be more consistent, with my eventual aim to become prolific. Fell short of that goal, stumbled and fell, even, but I’ll make adjustments and keep doing it next month. It’s all about managing the chaos of daily life.

2. “Don’t overthink. Trust your instincts, you’re a talented writer.”
One of my early readers said this to me and I can’t thank her enough for the advice. She was talking about the opening two paragraphs of a short story that I sent to her. Ironically, I spent the most time and effort “crafting” these two paragraphs. As a result, they came off as “stiff” in her words, and overwrought.

I’ve been guilty of dwelling on my writing in the past. Last year, I especially had a tendency to overthink my work to the point that it became stifling. Going forward, I don’t want to work too hard or second guess myself too much, or get so “inside my head” that I get psyched out,  but rather I want to let my thoughts and emotions flow.

3. Feedback.
I’ve been lucky enough to connect with some really helpful, professional readers who have provided some amazing guidance with my work. It is impossible to catch every single mistake that I make and I’m so thankful for the people who have helped with these short stories. If you’re reading this, thank you!

Oh, and a quick shout-out to all the people I’ve met on social media! What a great, supportive community of readers and writers. I’m really glad to have met all of you and I’m looking forward to knowing more about your stories 🙂

Other than that, not much has happened in January. I just want to continue the daily grind and keep at things.

For February, my goal is to flourish.

Will touch base with you soon.

-Peter

“Sometimes you need to go backward in order to go forward.”

A few months ago, I gave my friend Brandon a piece advice about his writing career. He was having trouble with a novel and after scrapping his pages several times, I told him to take a year off from the novel and instead to write short stories.

Well, I should have taken my own advice.

For more than a few reasons, I’ve decided to write 10 short stories next year. The main reason for this is discover. I want to experiment, learn, and fine tune. Maybe even push the envelope with a few. I’m going to be trying on different tones and styles, trying different characters, and subject matter.

So December was mainly about re-positioning myself to write short stories. After my decision, I looked through my writing notebook and picked out a few concepts that I thought could make good shorts.

The first one that I chose was a thriller about a detective searching for a missing person. I tried to complete it, but it just didn’t really feel right it its short form. I wound up putting it down.

But the next one I finished. I picked up an old concept that I just couldn’t crack because I was trying to develop it as a longer piece. I always knew it had to be a short. It’s finished and I’m currently in the editing process of it. And hoping to release it next month, so please keep on the lookout 🙂

For January, I’m planning on releasing the short story and writing another one (maybe two). Hopefully this new direction pans out.

-Peter