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Friday, September 16, 2011

A writer's anniversary

On this day, in 2005 when I was in IIUM, I sent a manuscript to Alaf 21. It was entitled "Seorang lelaki dan Cinta Zulaikha". I didn't send the whole manuscript, just half of the story because I had once experienced being duped by another publishing company. I didn't get any reply until a year later, a man called Encik Mohd Ali rang me and told me that I was rejected. By then, that thing about Alaf has long gone from my mind.

But then he told me there's a good news. There is this new publishing house called Buku Prima and he is going to take my manuscript together with him with one condition - that I will develop the storyline. But I didn't start straight away. I was in the mid of what you call "the horrific semester". Six assignments, 5 tests and end of semester exam looming in the dark. So it took me another six months before I start rewriting the whole story - after a friend told me the story of her male cousin who (together with a bike convoy) got detained at the Malaysia-Thai border when he tried to cross so he could go fight in Afghanistan.

I sent the manuscript later in 2006. I graduated from IIUM the same year and the book was published in 2007 under an editorial-picked title "Soalnya Hati". Until now, not many people knew that it was the first book I have ever published. A lot of people think that I started with "Plain Jane" because that one totally change my rule about writing. When the book was published, Buku Prima was still a young sapling with only six books in hand. In those days, if you tell people you are writing for Buku Prima, they kinda go "Who?"

It was also part of the reason I got the job at Cinema Online - when I brought it together with me and showed it to an interviewer named Marcel who later became my boss.

Eager to finally show what I have, I started penning "Plain Jane" as soon as SH was in stores. It was originally titled "Plain Jane untuk Mr. Darcy". And THAT was published in 2008. And then I had a one year relapse due to a permanent job. I only started writing "Aku Kan Novelis" in 2009 (originally called "Novel Cinta", an inside joke for me since I kept getting that question "What books do you write?" that I thought if I just put the title "Novel Cinta", then that settles every bit of question that comes after that), after quitting my permanent job, and it was published in 2010. "Valentina Nervosa" followed suit - readers called it 'darker', which is true in one way, but I call it "playing-with-fire-with-tongue-in-cheek".

So yes, if you want to count the day from the first time I sent my manuscript, it has been seven years. If you count it from the moment SH was out fresh from the oven, then I have been a writer for five years. When I started, it was hard for me to find a place - the writing world is filled with bestselling authors in the likes of Sharifah Abu Salem and Fauziah Ashaari. At that time, at the age of 24, I was considered "a young writer". Nowadays you can find novelists as young as 17 years old! How times have changed.

(It was also the reason why any time a new novelist came into the picture introducing themselves as "the young writer", yours truly will just smile and thinks, "Yeah, for a month!")

And I have always been the "not" writer. I am not indie, not artistic, not mainstream enough and not a bestseller. Which means that I am not an award-winning, artsy, lovable writer with a load of cash in her bank. Hahaha. But I love my readers just the same.

So yeah, happy Hari Malaysia to yer, and Happy Writer Anniversary to me.    


saadah razali said...

suka novel soalnya hati..lain dari yang lain... mula2 just baca dlm mingguan wanita (kalau tak silap) then trus pergi beli novel ni kat kedai dan baca dlm masa 1 hari je... lepas tu bagi kwn2 baca novel ni...dorang suka dan siap beli lagi novel soalnya hati. hehe lepas tu, trus beli semua novel yang u tulis... dan suke gak novel akukan novelis...dari situ dapat tau life seorang novelis.. teruskan menuliss ye ... saya menyokong dari jauh ... hehehe tak sabar tunggu AKN2.. ;D

Shika said...

Happy Hari Malaysia and Happy Anniversary to you..:) I read ur plain jane 1st. Then I bought AKN, then when I started to follow ur blog, I got to know soalnya hati was ur 1st book. Since I couldn't get the book anywhere I had to become MPPJ community library's member just to borrow the book:) Then i bought Valentina nervosa last month and finished a week ago.

I love all ur books. My most fav was Plain Jane and valentina nervosa. Maybe i love this 2 books coz i have gone thru some of the scenarios from the novel in my real life too....hehehehe biasa lah kan:) tak sah zaman uni kalau tak go thru all this kan;)

I love ur writing sincerely and glad to declare that u became my first ranking favorite novelist. Keep the spirit going Shai..:)

Shai Kamarudin said...

saadah - terima kasih banyak2. InsyaAllah akan try the best utk tak buat AKN2 dull. amiiiin.

shika - thanks a lot. seriously. appreciate it to the core. ^^