Prosaic soliloquies performed by a quixotic person

Six Words

with 15 comments

Sunday be bringin’ the blue funk. I don’t enjoy Sundays like I used to, anymore. Bah, humbug.

I got a notification via email from Nicholl Fellowships, this morning--the Nicholl competition is now open for 2012 submissions. I’ve been wanting to enter the competition since two years back but, apparently, I still haven’t gotten around to writing a single word.

OK, so I may portray myself as all talk and no trousers, but I’m not guilty as charged, folks. Nuh-uh. Some months back, I did join a one-time session for amateur writers. Well, actually, the session was more of an informal get-together for writer-wannabes who wanted to make big. It was fun, though. Anyways, in the class, the writing coach-cum-organizer gave us some examples of short stories written by famous writers; one of them was by Ernest Hemingway and the story was only six words long. Some claim that this six-word novel is the work Mr. Hemingway was most proud of:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Right after the coach read those six words, we writer-wannabes started weeping uncontrollably and calling our shrinks. It was that deep, y’all. Those six words inspired me and instinctively, I wanted to have a go at it. I wanted to depict an intense emotion, a sense of what I feel about Sunday, and bring that feeling to life--in just six words. I was successful (I think).

Sunday, followed by Monday. Blue funk.

POW, POW, DOOSH! Like triple sucker punches in yo’ gut!


Written by SZA

19 February 2012 at 12:29 PM

15 Responses

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  1. Very good you are intelligent


    19 February 2012 at 4:03 PM

  2. From one wannabe screenplay writer to another, I can’t tell you how elated I was to find another M’sian who was looking at the Nicholl Fellowship. I mean, I know for a fact that there have been entries from M’sia (Nicholl posted a map of entries on FB) but I was wondering who these elusive, possibly reclusive, M’sian writers were.

    Are you going to enter this year? There’s still about 21 days to the deadline – and yes, unless you’ve already got at least one draft out and just need to polish and tweak, it might be a Herculean or even Sisyphusian effort – but hope springs eternal, no?

    It would be great to be able to talk to someone other than my writing partner (who is also my twin) about screenplay writing. Let me know if you want to chat about the craft sometime, it would be a much-needed salve to my sanity. πŸ™‚


    12 April 2012 at 1:53 PM

    • Wahey! You’ve no idea how surprised and happy I was when I read your comment. Hullo, my fellow Malaysian! πŸ™‚

      Twenty-one days left before the deadline? Oh, snap. And I’ve not done any writing yet--not even a single word. Truth be told, Cheech, I’ve been having a very long spell of writer’s block. (But really, I’ve been procrastinating.) Seriously though, deciding on what genre to write about is big enough a challenge for me as it is, and what more to say about writing a full story. I suppose, I’ll put my writing off for another year…again. How about you? Are you going to enter this year? If you are, best of luck to you and your twin! πŸ˜€

      Oh, yes, definitely! It’d be really great if we could talk about our pursuit, sometime. I’d be so grateful for that! Yes, I need some comfort to regain my sanity, as well. The feelings are mutual, my friend. πŸ˜›

      Oh, boy, can’t believe I’ve finally met a Malaysian-screenplay-writer-wannabe-who-wants-to-join-Nicholl-Fellowship. So exciting!


      12 April 2012 at 3:38 PM

      • Ack! Apologies to my new friend who will write a screenplay… someday… soon…? (Note the gratuitous use of ellipses to create tension and drama). When I saw your post, I was so thrilled I fainted. OK, if fainting was jumping up and down as if I were doing some form of deranged isometrics, then I fainted. Except I didn’t. But all that jumping about meant I was really excited to have another writer to talk to about (yay!) screenwriting! Finally! Yes! πŸ˜€

        But then everyday life (i.e. work, chores, personal hygiene and basically nothing related to writing) landed on me like a ton of bricks and I’m still sifting through the rubble and trying to catch a breather. I promise to get in touch and chat about writing and the Nicholl the minute things ease up. My fingers and eyes are duly crossed in the hopes that it will be sooner rather than later.

        Btw, love the honesty and the more honesty – a writer who knows herself is a rare beast. πŸ˜€


        13 April 2012 at 9:50 PM

        • OK, get this--both of us are Malaysians, we both are amateur screenplay writers, we both wish to join the Nicholl Fellowships, we both got all worked up when we met each other, we both had the same hyperbole-esque reaction to meeting a new fellow writer…oh, God…are you thinking what I’m thinking? I must be your long lost triplet! 😯

          Oh, fiddlesticks. Don’t worry about it. Things have been quite crazy on my end, too. I understand that life can get pretty hectic when your plate is overflowing, especially if you’ve got a saucer for your plate. So now, prithee, cease crossing thy eyes, or that way they shall remain forrrevahhh!

          P.S. I’m liking your sense of humour. Wouldn’t surprise me if you said that your writing genre was comedy. πŸ™‚


          14 April 2012 at 6:06 PM

          • So there I was fiddling with my nails – having learned the lesson of not trying to emulate Carlos Santana on my guitar while wearing fresh polish – when I realized that I had totally left my long lost triplet hanging! πŸ˜›

            And btw, perceptive much? πŸ˜€ I do indeed favor comedy as my preferred genre. How could you tell? I thought I hid it so well. Look, look – I made a rhyme. I do it all the time. And now, I’ve apparently lost my mind, as well.

            But I’m telling you – comedy is not easy. There’s a lot of truth to – “dying’s easy, comedy’s hard”. The first feature-length screenplay we attempted was sooooooo bad. I forced all my friends to read it and when I read it back myself about a year later, I had to go apologize to everyone for making them read it! πŸ™‚ Even I couldn’t get thru it in one sitting.

            Seriously, it was milk-curdlingly bad. If I had lived in Salem, Mass. back in 1692 I would most certainly have been burned at the stake. On the plus side, I could then have been featured as a major character in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible 260 years later. πŸ™‚

            What went wrong? Where do I begin? A lack of story, just a concept played out over set piece ideas that were neither cohesive nor progressive. Lack of character development – the protags never evolved, never changed – no clear motivation, primary or secondary. The only thing to recommend it was that we (rather, my writing partner cause I was flying blind) had somehow managed to shoe-horn it into a structure that held together. But while structure is important, it’s not worth much without story.

            But hey, live and learn right? At least I survived that debacle to live to write another day πŸ˜€ Could have been worse, it could have been the Titanic of all screenplays. I mean the ship that went down, not the extravaganza that James Cameron did pre-Avatar. I have a theory that it was actually Rose plodding around in that steerage dance scene that sunk the ship and not the iceberg. But I might be alone on that one πŸ˜€

            P.S. I’ve uncrossed my eyes as requested. You’re absolutely right, they could stay that way forevah. It also made driving very tricky.

            P.P.S. I’m trippin’ on yo’ sense of humor too.


            28 April 2012 at 10:30 PM

            • I’m so sorry! Oh, boy. I knew I should have warned you I’m really bad at keeping in touch. I used to have a couple of penpals (ah, the good days of yore) and it always took me more than a month to reply to their letters. Poor Val and Aje. They were good penfriends. I wonder how they are doing now. Hm…

              Wow, I’m really impressed, Cheech, that you’ve made a head start in your pursuit early on. Character development? Structure? Oh, my. I’ve never really thought about the technical part of writing a screensplay, really. If I’d written one, the characters and the story itself would have been one dimensional. So not good. And I dare say it’d have been worse than you could ever imagine. The cringe-worthy sight of Miss DeWitt Bukater flailing around gracelessly when the ship sank got nothing on it. (Wait, did she flail around? I don’t know since I’ve yet to see the film.) Alright, I’m exaggerating, but you probably get my drift. πŸ˜›

              Well, ’tis a good thing you mentioned about the technicality of screenwriting. I really appreciate it. Thank you, o kind lady. πŸ™‚


              24 May 2012 at 11:58 AM

  3. Just a quick update, the Nicholl Fellowships is now underway and guess how many entries there were?

    7197! How crazy is that? There were 6 from Malaysia. How cool is that?

    Btw, maybe you should try comedy as well, I read your Bad Dogs post and it killed me.


    18 May 2012 at 9:04 PM

    • Yes, I know! After I read your comment, I immediately paid a quick visit to Nicholl Fellowships website. That IS crazy! Ah, the six contestants from Malaysia are doing me proud :). Are you one of them, Cheech? It’ll be really cool if you are!

      Well, although I’ve not decided on the film genre yet, I think I’m more inclined towards drama with a good dose of humour thrown in. I’ll give myself a whole year to write a good piece for next year’s entry, God willing.


      24 May 2012 at 12:20 PM

      • 7197 is up like 400-over entries from last year, I believe. I don’t know the exact numbers. As for the technical aspects of screenwriting, I would love nothing more than to tell you to forget about it – “Sharifah, just write the story and say blah to the rest” – but I can’t. It’s always helpful to know them since they’re useful tools in your storytelling arsenal.

        So dear miss (how very Jane Austen of us – which I love) one of the most important things I’ve learned in writing screenplays is that Story is everything. But it can be enhanced or destroyed by the way you tell it, hence the rules/technicalities. Also, sometimes genre dictates story and sometimes story dictates genre.

        I read somewhere that a good rule of thumb is to write and get really good in one genre before even thinking about branching out. Sort of like typecasting for writers but it’s supposed to help you get better in your craft. So it’s kinda cool that you know what genre you wanna do – dramedy. I believe Little Miss Sunshine was a semifinalist in the Nicholl, then later nominated for an Oscar. That’s a dramedy. I also rate 500 Days of Summer, Sideways, Dan in Real Life as good dramedies.

        Personally, I tend to enjoy straight-out comedy like Marx Brothers, rom-coms and spoof films or black comedies like Thank You for Smoking, Wag the Dog and the excellent oldie-but-goodie Death Becomes Her. But then again, I love all types of movies (even the so bad, it’s not good actually – it’s just plain terrible, B-grade movies) which might help explain why I want to eventually make a living from it.

        Btw, it’s not a bad idea to give yourself a year to get cracking on your entry for Nicholl 2013. That way you might even save yourself some money with the early bird entry instead of paying full price. Live up to your M’sian heritage – we love good deals and bargains! Only thing better is free stuff! πŸ˜€


        27 May 2012 at 7:07 PM

        • Awesome pointers, Cheech! Thank you. Sonnets and odes shall be penned in your honour.

          About what you said, I get you--story per se is vital, but one must take writing techniques into account, too, so the story can be narrated in such a way that the audience/script-readers can be lulled into a trance-like state, because the story is that amazing. While there may be rules for writing a script, I feel that a writer writes best when they feel comfortable with their own approaches. However, I’m of the same opinion with you when you mentioned that it’s really good for writers to know the standard principles of script-writing, because they can come in real handy (especially, for novice writers, like Yours Truly). I believe that one can neither be too rigid nor too lax, technical-wise.

          By the way, that’s the first time I’ve heard of ‘dramedy’. Didn’t know there was a name for such genre. Actually, dramedy wasn’t something that I’d go for, initially. Or drama, even. Because I assumed that other genres would be more effortless to write, if I were to compare them with a ‘more weighty’ genre. And besides, like you, the films that I mostly watch are of comedy genre. So naturally, I imagined that I’d be writing a comedy piece for Nicholl Fellowships.

          Speaking of favourite films, it’s pretty uncanny that we’ve the same liking. But that shouldn’t be a surprise, since we’re non-biological triplets. It’s great that you do enjoy watching grade-B films, as well. Sometimes I wonder why some of the films’ ratings are so low, when they are actually pretty decent. But then again, whatever rocks your boat.

          You know, talking about all this gets me all excited for NF 2013. I can hardly wait! But I doubt I’ll be one of the early birds…being a procrastinator, that I am. But surely good deals and bargains are great motivators for Malaysians, even for this hardcore procrastinator, no?

          From what I’ve known about you, Cheech, you’ve a pretty extensive knowledge about films, script-writing, and all. I hope you and your twin will do well in the industry. πŸ™‚


          27 May 2012 at 11:31 PM

  4. Hehehe, I like the idea of sonnets and odes to me. But which girl wouldn’t? πŸ˜€ Yay!

    But ack! about the rest – I am, by no means, expert at anything. I was just talking about screenwriting with a fellow writer. I think we’re always learning. I know I am. However, I have to concur – you’ve got to hook the reader asap and completely. Because here’s what you always hear about readers (studios/prod co’s).

    1. If you haven’t got them in the first 10 pages, you’ll never get them cause they will likely put your script aside. Some do it earlier, some say they know from the first line. Scary or what?

    2. As a newbie, your script needs to fall within the 90-120 page count. Experienced readers can tell from just the heft of a script whether or not you’re under or over. Now it’s just getting into scary, weird territory. πŸ™‚

    I consider myself a novice as well. And it’s heartening to hear that someone else feels that one should not be too rigid or too lax. I think being adaptable is probably best but I would say that, cause I think I write organically. Like a hydroponic plant.

    Actually I’m not sure if ‘dramedy’ is an actual genre but I first heard it in relation to this show called Ally McBeal, which I have to admit I never really watched. I believe it’s the use of comedy in tandem with difficult dramatic stories – thus a lightening of tone in what would otherwise be very dark. Example: Juno (teen pregnancy/adoption) or American Beauty (ennui/midlife crisis/infidelity).

    My two cents is that drama’s a little more accessible than comedy because comedy is actually such a subjective thing. What one person finds funny, another might not. Whereas a normal person’s reaction to injustice, death, divorce and suffering is common to all. I guess that’s why the majority of entries in NF is drama. πŸ™‚

    About fav films, it’s super uncanny. I think we are sooo non-bio trips. And yeah, I’ve seen some pretty entertaining B-grades – I especially like the ones that don’t try to hide it and just embrace the fun. I also like cheesy movies – any dance movie in the last 20 years, I’m talking about you.

    I’m glad you’re excited about NF. Hehe, I hope that you get off your procrastinating posterior and get to it. πŸ™‚ And seriously, the difference is like RM52. You can save RM52! Do you know how many McD Value Lunches that is? And while I have no doubt you’re pretty hardcore, I think you’ll find the motivation. Eventually. πŸ˜€


    28 May 2012 at 12:12 PM

    • Oh, wow. Took me almost two months to reply to your comment. I’m so very sorry if you’ve been waiting for my reply for aeons! Told you I’m terrible at keeping in touch :(. I’d a long spell of pain in my lower back (herniated disk), and because of that, I was pretty much in no mood to socialize actively on the Net…except on Twitter (the poor girl’s only amusement during her bedridden days).

      Of course, I’ll definitely reply to your above comment as soon as humanly possible. Won’t let ya hanging there!


      13 July 2012 at 3:34 PM

      • Don’t worry about it, I’m used to hangin’ around πŸ˜‰

        Ouch, your back thing sounds major. I have no idea what that is like but I’ve seen other people who’ve had similar injuries and it looks excruciating. I can’t even begin to imagine! *shudder shudder* I’m really sorry that it happened to you.

        Anyways, like I said, forgetaboutit and you get better. We’ll talk when you’re back on your feet. Literally.


        2 August 2012 at 6:44 PM

        • Aw, shucky darns! There I go again--making promises to constantly keep in touch only to do the opposite thing…again.

          The back’s good now, which I’m really thankful for. Lots of things have happened during my long spell of MIA; too bad writing a script isn’t one of them (go figure).

          Well, I look forward to talking to you again! Miss ya!


          6 November 2012 at 9:34 AM

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