This is a blog about my obsessions, whatever they may be.

January 31, 2010



I like to start things.

Starts are fun. They are bright and shiny and new and they make you feel all happy and excited.


I love to start new stitching projects. So I am having a 2010: The Year of Starts.

I aim for at least 12 starts, but I can start anything and everything I want. I have at least 12 projects kitted up (meaning that all I have to do is put the fabric on the frame and go go go!). That is how much stash I have accumulated over the past few years.

I have begun my January start, which is Sampler Cove’s Taking Flight.

Tomorrow, I shall start something new.


I have discovered that I don’t enjoy starting new writing projects nearly as much, however.

Writing projects, especially big writing projects,  require mental preparation. A lot of mental preparation.

I used to like starting them. But that was because I didn’t do any mental preparation – I could and would literally start something new just because of a pretty new sentence. I never, and haven’t, finished anything.

And that absolutely has to change.

January 30, 2010


The Plan:

1. Write first thing every day for half an hour.

2. Email to sooper-sekrit account.

3. Rinse and repeat.

January 29, 2010


Exams are over.

Immediate metamorphosis into social butterfly.


Unwriting to commence as my Model has collapsed, partially due to lack of brainwork and mostly due to an attack of the Heebie-Jeebies.

January 27, 2010


My novel has reached the 10k mark, and according to WriteWay, ahead of schedule as well.



I need some.

In fact, I think I need loads of it.


I’m seriously contemplating Dutch courage. Except I don’t think it’s good for me to do stuff that could lead to addictions.

I already have an obsessive personality. If I add addictive to that, I think the rest of my life will just go down the toilet.


I have been driven to this because I’ve realised my barrier to finishing this book is me.

I mean, I’ve always known that. It’s generally true of everything one wishes to accomplish.


The difficulty that I mentioned a few days ago has become clearer to me, if not at all simpler to resolve.

I have the ‘small story’. By this, I mean the storyline of the characters in the novel. But I haven’t yet been able to put the ‘big picture’ into writing.

If the small story is what’s on the chessboard, then the big picture IS the chessboard.

Don’t ask me how I play chess without a chessboard because I will hurt you.


I sent a brain-dribbling-out email to Nadia a few months back, maybe late summer last year, and looking it over, I’ve realised that all that was in there was the small story.

I know I have the big picture. It’s In My Head.

It just never appears to translate into what’s on the screen. Or if it does, it’s buried so deep even I can’t see it.

I acknowledge that this has always been a problem for me. How else would I have achieved partial manuscripts with only 2 characters?

But I’ve never felt this as keenly, maybe because I never had enough of the small story to realise that there was still stuff lacking.


So back to courage.

I need some, I think, to get the big picture out of my head and in words.

Doesn’t matter how awful, or how bad it is. I need to get it out where I can see it so I can tear it down and fix it.

Which sounds so easy, and is probably why all the writing advice ever given to me boils down to:

Write the damn thing. Fix it later.

January 24, 2010



I swear I’m undergoing difficulties…but WriteWay tells me that I’ve written over a thousand words in the past two days.

And I would say that WriteWay has lost its mind (a theme so prevalent in my life right now that it ought to have its own tag) but for the fact that I thought about it, realised that I have written one completely new scene, and added to two others.


This novel has been different in every way.

The writing of it has been surprisingly easy. Not that I don’t wrack my brains over the plot and so forth, but I have never felt like I’ve to cut myself to bleed the words out onto the page.

Nor have I wanted to throw out this entire draft to start all over, despite the fact that I am nearly at the 10k mark.


Still thinking about January-in-February.

Joely said she’d be my accountability partner for it.*

I dread the thought of getting up early to scribble three pages before class, though I know what’s good for you is often hard to do.

It’s the logistics of it that bother me. I don’t know how I want to do it.

I do know that I want to get up in the mornings to do it.

But do I do it by hand on paper and toss it? Open up a new word doc every day, write it in an email and send it to sooper-dooper-sekrit account? How?

* If you’re interested, just ping me. I am Cardinal Emily of Gmail, with a full-stop between Cardinal and Emily. Apparently there’s another, more evil Emily Cardinal out there.

January 23, 2010


I’m stuck at a…difficulty.

I hesitate to call it a wall, as I can go around it. Climb over it, and come back to it later, at least in principle.


In principle because if I was thinking about plot, then yeah, I can come back later.

I know what happens in this chapter, and, until maybe a scene or two ago, the balance I had in mind was carefully maintained.

Then I lost it. Probably together with what was left of my brains on Tuesday after two exams back to back.

That symmetry amuses me as much as the symmetry I see inside my work every where.


Structure, on the other hand, is different from plot.

It is the hidden cogs of the machine, a lot more complicated to fix than grammar or story.

The former can be learned, and the latter has since become, if not simpler, then clearer to me.

But you can’t fix what you can’t see. Yet.

January 20, 2010


Yes. I know. I’m supposed to be dead to the world and unwriting*.


But sometimes the urge takes over and exam tomorrow be-damned.

My cast is slowly expanding, and my multiple storylines are weaving themselves in and out to make a coherent whole.

Never mind nailing Euler equations. This is a whole new level of high.


I have decided I will be doing a January-in-February** challenge, to kick-start my 3 pages in the morning habit to empty my not-so-little mind of its detritus first thing.

I haven’t decided yet how I’ll do it. Pen and paper just doesn’t really appeal to me. At the moment, I’m considering typing 3 pages, whilst listening to Britney Spears’s Three on repeat, and not saving any of it.

Except…what if there are gems in there? There might be, like, diamonds in the rough.

*unwriting is my version of unwinding.

**Something I’ll probably not be able to do next year because I would like to celebrate what might be my first and last Chinese New Year at home in years in proper style.

January 19, 2010



This isn’t the first blog I’ve had. Not even close. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least three previous ones.

Two I kept for a good long while, with regular updates. One must have had over a thousand posts over its several-year lifespan. Maybe even two thousand. I suspect that I can check because I don’t think my attempts to delete them were successful.

But some things are best left dead in the water and hopefully decomposing into nothingness


For most of my blogging life, I have had more than one blog a time. Sometimes because I contributed elsewhere, but mostly because I wished to keep my book blog and my writing blog separate.

To be honest, I don’t know why I wanted the separation. I did think it was better for my audience, such as it were.

But it was hard, especially towards the end.

I am a writer first, and a reader second. The fact that I am a writer too has changed the way I read.


Which brings me to this: consolidation.

I don’t have the time for more than one blog. But at the same time, I do want a blog.

I like that I have a platform to say whatever it is I want to say, and I am arrogant enough to think that what I have to say is worth reading. It is, naturally, your prerogative to disagree – in which case, I do have to ask, why are you reading this?


Especially since this blog is more about and for me than any of the previous ones I have had in the past. Which isn’t to say that I don’t welcome comments, because I do, but simply to say that this blog is focused on me.

As I told a sooper-dooper writing pal in an email today, this blog is my mental space for Emily Cardinal*, and Emily Cardinal is this person who’s writing this novel without a title** about reincarnation, obsession, and how the world will/could/should/might/should not change in allegory.

*In case you did not realise, I am not Emily Cardinal in my day-to-day life.

**I am waiting for inspiration to strike so that I can change the tag from TLOL to something else. And no, it does not stand for The LOL. Well, it does, but not in the Laugh Out Loud kind of way.

January 15, 2010



I wouldn’t say that I had a fetish for minimalism, though I do prefer simplicity, clean lines and elegance over baroque, over-the-top chaos.


I’m using Blogger rather than something else because I had to have this template – I think I still prefer WordPress, but WP’s interface…

True, I could probably have found a substitute, but in this case, Minima refers to minimal work involved.


My words stand for themselves.

In Minima, there is nothing to draw your eye away from my words.

It’s not to say that they wouldn’t if I had a fancier template, but I think the simplicity of this one makes a statement by itself.

January 13, 2010



This is by far the coldest winter I’ve experienced in my three years in Manchester.

I remember that I was wearing just a sweater right up to mid-November 2008. But I was wearing my long black coats by the same time last year.

Not to mention I think I only wore my brown calf leather jacket like twice because it got too cold, too quickly.


It’s so so so so cold.

When I left Singapore, it must have been about 30 C.

Friday morning, it was –10 C when I stepped out of the plane, and snow everywhere. All I had was a wool sweater. I thought I’d never be warm again after that.

I came home, and climbed into bed and stayed there until I could feel my toes again. And my ears too.

It seemed like a perfectly rational thing to do at the time, never mind the fact that I was starving.


It’s not negative degrees any more. This I can tell because my ears no longer hurt when I’m outdoors.

And the snow, it is melting.


The snow is now that dreadful thing called Slush.

I hate Slush even more than I hate snow, but I think less than I hate sleet.


The slush has refrozen into ice. I am ice-skating in regular, non-ice-skating boots.

It is a lot of fun. Especially the part where you skid/skedaddle your way with 2 bags and a bunch of groceries. But as an exercise, it leaves much to be desired.


The ice is melting too. But not quickly enough.

Melting ice water on top of ice leads to Shinkansen* speed skidding/skedaddling.

(If you are meant to be part of my audience, you will appreciate the lovely alliteration, bolded for your admiration.)


Tomorrow, I shall appreciate the rapidly melting ice from comfort and warmth of my bed, with 13.5 tog duvet.

*I do believe that the new Chinese trains between their major cities will be or are faster, however,  in the face of alliteration, even accuracy must falter.

January 11, 2010

Going on writing hiatus for the next few weeks.

Writing economics essays is not a conducive environment for writing fiction.

Besides which, I need to consider whether I will actually splurge for WriteWay. I like it, but it is still 30USD that I could use for something else.

January 08, 2010



When I arrived in Manchester yesterday, it was white everywhere.

The city never looked so clean.

Or so cold.


Snow to slush. Ick. Now Manchester is back to the dirty city I’ve lived in for more than two years now.

I decided that I needed better shoes for the snow after I fell twice on the way into town.

Originally, I wanted wellies. I mean, I live in the UK. I ought to have a pair. Besides, my fake uggs got wet and really manky and after I slipped twice, I decided I needed shoes with better grip. But all my shoes are pretty and adorable and heeled and not so much on practicality. Because I’m vain like that.

Instead, I got another pair of black boots. They look a bit like combat boots, but not quite. I’ve been eyeing boots like that for ages and ages and ages now.

So now I own five pairs of black boots. I think they cover every kind possible because I have them in suede, regular leather and patent leather. I have them in ankle-height, calf-height and knee-high. I have them in lace up and zip up. I have kitten heels, thin near-stilettos, chunky and nearly flats. I also have comfy, sooper comfy and OMG-they-are-killing-me.

I may have to stop buying a new pair every year now.

…I cannot believe I just said that.


Since I'm a writer, I cannot possibly have a post titled 'Slush' without bringing up the dreaded Slush Pile.

I've never been in the slush pile because I've never submitted anything.

I hope that changes soon.



My cousin did a tarot reading for me.

The sum total was that I should live in the moment more, and worry about the future less.


My doctor thinks the nausea I’ve been living with for months now is more stress-induced than anything else. He also said some other things that I refuse to dignify by mentioning them here.

I’m not surprised that he thinks stress is a big part of the problem. But to extrapolate from one to infinity…As a scientist, I think he needs to re-learn the scientific method. And some basic statistics.

But he also said that I should be kinder to myself, and that is almost certainly true.


The first leads to the second, which leads to this: I know of quite a few writers who sit down each morning, and the first thing they do is churn out three pages. Of something. Whatever they want to write or have to say. It doesn’t matter, so long it’s three pages.

A big part of why I haven’t wanted to try this is that I’m not a morning person. It’s just really hard to get up early for anything, much less write three pages that aren’t Work.

But maybe it’ll help me empty my mind of all the detritus, something I’ve found to be practically impossible all my life.

January 06, 2010



My father's brother is dying.

I haven't seen him in a very long time. I'm not sure if my father has either.

I cannot say that I will mourn him, for I did not know him. My memory of him is merely of a tall, thin and dark man who smoked.

What it does is drive home the point for me that my parents are no longer young. Every year, when I come home, I notice little things.

My father's hair is whiter, his movements a little more erratic. My mother seems to grow tired more easily. Both of them eat less and less.

They are not that old. My father is still working, if increasingly fewer hours. My mother needs no help around the house but a maid who comes in once a week, something we've had since I was a child.

But they are no longer the strong, invincible adults of my childhood.


This post came together with the title of this blog. The juxtaposition of mortality and eternity makes my inner wordplay geek squee with joy.

I'm not obsessed with my mortality, though I've always been one of those people who feel that time is running out for them. Not for any particular reason. I just feel it, some days more than most, and today is one such.

But they say that anything you put up on the internet will be there forever. That's why this is here.

Welcome to my eternity.