Creative Outputs and Where to Find Them


/not turning back on the title!

We’ve all been there. Writer’s block and all their relatives. And yet, we always forget that creativity can’t be forced. It has to come through inspirations or some form of motivation. Creativity also comes when you seek it, not when you’re waiting for it. Like it or not, creativity is an effort, not a gift. You may be gifted with talents, but unless you put your time into crafting your work, you’re not gonna go far with what you already have. It’s basically like investing.

For at least two months now, things have been quiet, work wise. My precious Macbook pro was away for longer than I remember because other things demanded more of my time and money that I would like. I’ve been happy, then unhappy, then happy again, and then finally, feeling lost. I started questioning everything around me like I usually would when I have all the free time in the world to sit down and think – what if. What if this, what if that. Nothing really comes out of them, but the questions were my muse. And then my phone became my occasional “solution”.

Until one day when I came into work. It just dawned on me – I’m creatively deprived and I’m unhappy. I need to do something. I want to do something.

It’s hard to explain the feeling when my work rarely demands creative (read: not innovative) outputs. I don’t freelance anymore and I’m a part of a somewhat rigid work system. My priorities have changed and I have to make an almost 180-degree shift in mindset for my job. But, I only felt the pang after things have quiet down for a long time and I cannot revert to The Sims 4, random music recordings or writing, and even making some random video that most likely will never end up anywhere on the world-wide web. Anything that I would’ve done to express myself creatively.

Not that I’m complaining, though. I love where I am in life so far, I just feel like I’m not much of myself lately and I don’t feel particularly ecstatic about it.

So here’s what I’ve started doing:

  1. Talk to some friends about it. Especially when they’re in the same line of work. Maybe, they share the same feeling. Talking things out tend to take half the load off your mind for a while, and then from here, you could either choose to continue with your life or set out a goal to meet.
  2. I didn’t really set any goals, but then I said yes to a project and surrounded myself with a different group of creative people, partially unrelated to what I do every day at work. Okay lah, 90% unrelated. But hey, it was what I used to do when I freelance, so why not. I got out of my routine and I actually enjoyed myself a lot. It was fun! Set out to do something that is out of your normal routine, even if you can’t think of a goal to achieve. Just do what is typically different from what you normally do.
  3. Looking for inspirations. Find out about what’s really up with me with Mr. Google. I haven’t really found anything yet, I just want to take a break from work and do something else first. That’s all I know now. Main thing is, you understand what is going on with yourself/life.

So today, for example, was the most mind-stimulating day for me. I haven’t felt like it in a while. Ideas after ideas just came to me, almost taking me away from reality in the midst of conversations among my friends. I was jotting away when more ideas stemmed from inspirations all around me. It was great. It felt great. All it take was for me to get out of my normal routine, the people I see almost every day, and being a part of a project that isn’t part of my job scope. I was even excited to fork out my savings to pay for my MBP’s graphics card when I was completely against this idea months ago! I was just on fire to get something done!!

Don’t believe me? Check out my new online personality name – mxll. I swapped the e for x. You still pronounce it “Mell”. And I am feeling content. I finally feel satisfied with my online personality name. If I’m going back to writing songs, this is what I’m gonna use from now on. I’m gonna be working on it as a brand, and I will carry it everywhere I go online. “news and shoes by mxll”. YAS.

There is a list of things that I’m going to do, or at least want to do before things get busy after Chinese New Year. I realized that a lot of things are just within reach the moment I stopped being a couch potato contemplating life. I’m a doer, but with seasons. Complications. But. I just wish I had taken my time more seriously when things were extremely quiet before I got my full-time job. I could’ve done a lot of things but I spent it all on sleeping, watching useless YouTube videos, and God knows what else. I can never get it back, and it sucks because I’m turning 24 soon and I don’t feel like I’ve done enough for myself.

But I don’t have time to regret. The project isn’t over yet and I’m getting my laptop back soon. Time to get to work!!

When do I get to believe the work I do is important to me?


i mean, i still don’t know.

after my last post, i lost track of time and just rolled with it. time, i mean. i was doing okay for a while, learning to bend my ego and accept things as they are, unless i need to speak up. speak up, that’s another thing i’ve learned too. starting a new job tends to intimidate me because many times i feel like speaking my mind up and…i just couldn’t. but i slowly learn how to. more importantly, when. there are many times i filter myself, out of fear, but in hopes that it does me good than harm.

filter. the word people use these days not as its original definition. and it’s something that i have been slowly doing since middle of this year. i’m sharing lesser and lesser each day about my life and my thoughts on social media. i left twitter in august, uninstalled facebook on my phone, and very occasionally on instagram for the pictures that i really, really want to share. i am taking a step back from everything to find back what drives me to wake up every day and do what i love. because i really don’t know.

i mean, if you want to talk about goals and everything, i will be very honest – to travel the world and raise a family. so what’s stopping me?

doubts.

questions.

the people around me.

sure, it’s easy to do the “ignore what they say and just do you” thing but the thing is, i haven’t decided what i believe to be the most important work in the world…..yet. i mean the things that i do now to meet my goals. travelling the world is cliché, i know, and raising a family doesn’t sound much like a goal but hey, these are what i really want to do in the future. everything else will be just hobby. i’m not depressed or short-sighted or anything, i just focus more on the now than i do on the future. what i decide now is basically what my future is going to look like.

so, what do i really want to do now? honestly – be a freelancer again – and that is only because i don’t have time to creatively express myself or even time to rest. not to be a negative nancy or anything but if you asked me 3 years ago what do i want to do every day my answer would have been work, because i saw myself as a workaholic even when i was a student. but work became an endless routine that didn’t really have a destination for me to go to so that slowly died and replaced with, you guessed it, laziness. i feel lost. i don’t want to waste my life away but this is honestly how i feel  – lost.

i have said the word honest like 4 times now.

i am doing what i can to improve in all areas at work; in administrations, leadership, and planning. i got myself started with a bullet journal system to organize my work, i learn to communicate better, and i am slowly taking up more responsibilities as a challenge as every day i am learning about my limits and then i push. this results in me becoming slightly less emotional in my decision-making and more….i guess you can say mature. meh

meh is how i feel. in true malaysian accent – doing all this for what? 

i don’t hate what i do. i actually love coming to work and i guess i’m saying all this is because i don’t know if what i’m doing now is for me or for my future. “me” and “my future” can be one and the same, but in this case, i’m talking more of “now” vs “my future”. like gah. i’m lost. i’m questioning everything. i can feel it in my bones that i am changing but i don’t know if it’s for better or for worse. i still feel like i’m going in circles even though some people would kill (lol pls don’t) to have a stable-income job like i have now over anything that they may want more than anything out there. i don’t even know what i truly want.

i’m not competitive in my work field and so that makes it seem like i’m uninterested.

this past week i got little sparks of inspirations and so i played a bit of music. that felt nice. 

so i guess my next step from here on is to convince myself that, if i want to be able to provide for my family one day, one of the ways to do it is to improve myself, earn XP points, and level up. questions will eventually lead to answers so there is no harm in trying out a few options before discovering the best way to overcome my problems. or so i tell myself. and maybe THEN i get to tell myself “hey, you’re finally able to call this your most important work in the world!” otherwise, along the way, i do hope to find where is it i want to go or what i want to do for the rest of my life. right now, it just feels like it’s the beginning of everything.

goals and passion


it’s like i don’t even know anymore.

this is an extended version of what i wanted to write in my bullet journal, but seeing as i intend to go deeper into this, pointers do only half the job. this is my (first) journal entry on the feelings and self-doubts that i have been having since working full-time and slowly leaving my freelancer life.

Δ i am scared.
Δ i am not good enough.
Δ i have no passion.
Δ i have no goal.

why do i feel and think this way?

ego.

to think that ego would make you feel and think otherwise…

the thing is, i don’t know when have i ever invited ego into my life. growing up, i had low confidence and near zero self-esteem, especially in schools. i don’t know when i have started thinking that i know it all. and yet at the same time, i constantly battle with “i’m not good enough”. because i know i have not reached a certain level of skill sets or standards that i tell myself all the time that i’m not good enough, and frankly, having written typing this down, i realize now that instead of praying over my mountain, i only ever speak about it. sometimes even brushing it aside temporarily.

my mountain is being lazy. no real efforts in learning and improving myself. that is what my ego is fed on. my view frame is small and near sighted. no further than trying to get through the day while completing only my task. what is my job scope? what are things that i need to do today? here? at this moment? can i go home and sleep now?

sigh.

my past freelance work comprises of 2 categories – touch ‘n go & big project(s). the touch-and-go ones are the most frequent ones, where the job scope is the same most of the time, and it’s usually a one-man job. the bigger projects need more time and extensive job scopes because they’re not always sound engineering. so what’s my problem here?

well, i say that i always dream of working with a team and not working by myself, but how far do i mean by that? like, why is it so easy for me to juggle between PR work, and then self-appointing myself as a production manager while running Front of House when I recognize the needs…. and yet, i fail to apply the same intensity when it comes to work lately, especially this morning. i seem to forget that we’re all on this same ship. we either sink or we work together, covering each other. although i had no intention of doing it, but i seem to deliberately let my teammates save me while i deliberately force myself to swim when i know i can’t.

so what’s my excuse here? i can think of a million reasons why the set up took us really long but that would take me right back to my ego.

so, here is what i can do;
→ i can annoy the shit out of everybody and start asking questions in areas that need my help.
→ i can slowly learn how to adjust my view frame and accept everything as my responsibility.
→ seriously put my phone away and stop having my brain from getting “bored” aka lazy.

aaaand i’ve only covered 1 point out of 4 thus far.

i never really had an real goal, and by that, i mean at least one that i’ve managed to keep up with. i know goals can change over time due to various circumstances and change of interests, but now, i feel like i have no passion to begin with, thus no solid plans for the future. at least, in terms of my career anyway. like, why am i here? what am i really good at that i can contribute to my team, my company?

this is where i sleep on my issues.

so, i’m scared. scared that i’ll still be doing this even when i’m married and planning to start a family with a salary that is less than ideal for more than one person. i need to first find out the root of my problems before it grows into a tree. being lazy is definitely it for now. i need to put on my A game and hustle through. it’s not enough to just say it.

sigh.

×i’m too sleepy to continue×

What I aim to achieve in 2016


More weekend getaways, please.

2015 has been a year of keeping myself grounded. When I launched News and Shoes Productions I wasn’t sure the kind of brand I was going to offer. I know the kind of services that I wanted to do, but I need a lot more work on branding. Even my business card is very generic. I have no logo because I haven’t quite figured out what News and Shoes really is. But rest assured, one thing stands, I’d still want to create a platform for freelancers when I can.

Now before we go into what 2016 will be like for me, I’d like to go over my 2015 goals that I never achieved. Because frankly, I abandoned most of them after Singapore. Nothing else mattered!!

  1. to quit my current job.
  2. to grow back my long hair.
  3. to read at least 15 books.
  4. to travel to at least 1 neighbouring country.
  5. (at least) 1 photography gig.
  6. (at least) 1 music video gig.
  7. new fashion style. (ahahahahaha who am i even kidding)
  8. to blog a minimum of once a week!!!
  9. to complete 15 free online courses!
  10. to release my compilation of originals! oh my :3
  11. to be a part of 1 album production.
  12. to write 15 short stories!
  13. to publish at least 5 newspaper articles, / contribute a section in the opinions column.
  14. to release video letters every month.
  15. to write 1 song every month! pressureeeeee!

Everything else can just suck it because Singapore is everything.

But seriously, I haven’t been spending the time to be creative this past year. I just allowed myself to work and work and work and when I don’t work, I rest up so I could be mentally and physically ready for the next job. It’s a cycle. There’s no value in a lot of the things that I did. No complaints, though, I lost some relationship and gained few new ones. So far the new ones mattered more than the ones I lost, and I am perfectly okay with that.

One of the things that I learned this year was to trust my heart more. Trust in my intolerance, trust my frustration, trust anything that my heart deems red alert. Because as soon as those things are gone from my life, I literally feel liberated. Sure, they seem like an opportunity for me to grow in patience and to adapt, but when being put down and unjustly criticized becomes a routine or habit from someone, enough is enough. Indeed, your life is a lot better when you learn to filter the things thrown at you.

ALL RIGHT. Putting the negative things aside, 2015 has been an amazing year! One of my fondest memory is singing at my friend, Audrey’s wedding last September. I was singing to Us The Duo’s No Matter Where You Are aka their wedding vows.  Audrey’s reaction was priceless!! ❤ I also drove all the way to Ipoh for a day trip work! Mom came along to go with me and help driving back a little at night. My first road trip!! And of course, the first time I travelled out of Malaysia, I got to visit/work in Singapore. You guys, Singapore is glorious. Such a beautiful country built for their people. You don’t necessarily feel like you’re in a different country because it’s like Malaysia but better. Ha. If it weren’t for our currency and if I were to actually live and work there, man, I could do so much better with my savings. Like, really. ❤

And now, for 2016, my goals are going to revolve around me and my “freedom”. Mostly, since I’ll be living on my own, I now have the liberty to do what I’ve always wanted to do – renovating the apartment. I won’t be going as far renovating, but I dream to do 10 things first, in no particular order:

  1. Replace the wooden floor in all the bedrooms.
  2. Maximizing storage spaces in the kitchen but getting maybe 2 Ikea shelves and incorporating tips I found online that works best for me.
  3. Convert half the living room into half my workstation until I’ve decided to get a TV.
  4. Get rid of all the wooden wardrobes in every room. Currently thinking of replacing them with Ikea’s RM60 rack and stand and a couple of baskets.
  5. Set up dining area with a wooden bench for the wall side, and 3 stools on the other side.
  6. Information center in the kitchen – tips, recipe etc
  7. Set up a tea/bar area. This is a fun idea!!
  8. Create a mudroom area. With whiteboard, calendar, shoe storage, a bench, notice board etc
  9. Build wall shelves for decoration – photos, candles etc
  10. Mini studio corner in my bedroom.

As far as work concern, the beginning of the year with nothing planned is always a scary time. When you’re a freelancer, you rely (most of the time) on your work performance and networking, hoping that others will call you to come work for them, for lack of better words. But there’s one thing that 2015 has taught me is that, as long as it is work, I’m willing to give it a try. Because of that, I’ve become what I have called myself to be – Jack of all trades, Master of none. I’m expanding my area of ability towards theater and artist managing. I’ve just recently learned that in theater there is no such thing as production manager, as the role is the same with the stage manager. Huh. Explains why I got the funny looks when I suggested the musical theater that I was working on required a stage manager. Mah bad. But hey, you learn as you go, right?

Anyways, here’s to fruitful 2016. Happy New Year, guys! x

The Big Move


Guess who will be living on her own next year?

My dad used to joke (or so I’d like to think that he’s joking but he probably never did lel) whenever I bring up the idea of moving out. He would tell each one of his children, especially the “rebellious” one *cough me cough*, that none of us would move out of his household, even when we’re all in our 30s, unless we’re married. Now, you gotta understand my dad – he’s the most loving person I know, and that is the only reason why he’d want us to stick around for as long as we can. And I really appreciate him for that. I grew from wanting to leave as soon as I turned 18 to wanting to be an adult that he could trust, an ally. And I especially love family trips because it means we get to spend time together, something that I haven’t been able to do since my schedule wouldn’t allow me so. But now, in two weeks’ time, they’d be moving back to Kuching.

*plot twist*

Yes, you read that correctly. Exactly two weeks from today, on the 23rd of December, my family (and I) will be flying down to Kuching. We won’t be moving in right away as we’ll be spending Christmas at the longhouse with grandma and cousins and aunties and uncles. And then we’d be spending some of our days at a hotel, compliments from my dad’s company. Only then we’d be moving in.

My dad got his transfer of letter a few months ago. He was due to move in October, exactly 7 years after moving to KL from Bintulu. I remember the day my dad got his transfer letter to KL; I had mixed emotions about it. Partly sad because my dad would have to fly first while the rest of us had to stay back until I was done with PMR. I remember the day the truck came to get our stuff. I remember two guys. I remember after they were done, they asked my mom if they could take a shower at the guest bathroom at the back. I remember the amount of sadness floating in the air upon take off, leaving behind all the familiarities. I remember my mom crying because one of her “anak angkat” sent her countless amount of crying emojies.

I remember my dad picking us up, booked a van for the six of us and all of our stuffs. I remember my mom telling us not to look so sakai, in awe of the skyscrapers in the heart of KL. I remember the nervous face the four of us had when we were in the van, on the way to our hotel. I remember the our little room, with only 2 queen beds to fit the 6 of us plus our boxes and luggages. I remember my dad took us to KLCC. The 14th of November was the day we moved into our first home in Taman Mayang Jaya. It was a single-storey house with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. We slept on the floor in the living room, with only our clothes as our blankets, “mattresses” and “pillows” for almost 3 weeks. I remember cooking on our little portable stove, with enough gas to last us maybe two weeks to feed 6 mouths. I remember the night our stuff finally arrived, and a different night when our cars arrived. We stayed only for a year because the owner wanted to sell off the house.

10399790_1235899934302_7160199_n
the book shelf which served as a partition between the tv area and the family computer area as well as a gallery in our first home.

We moved into a double-storey house in SS4 and stayed for 2 years. We’ve found a little apartment we’ve called our home for the past 4 years now back in the same neighbourhood. Soon, it will feel empty and quiet. When I call out mama, no one will answer back. I won’t be able to tease my little sister any more on the silliest things. I won’t laugh at funny pictures with my second brother, and I certainly won’t be able to work with my ever-countable partner-in-crime first brother. No more politics and Christianity talks with my dad. Well, this could only mean that I’ll have a lot to catch up on whenever I’m back in Kuching, or every time they come to visit me here in KL.

Now, as my family is busy packing things and I’m counting down to the days when everything would finally feel real in my hands, I’m counting my blessing. I’m grateful that I’ve grown up so much the last 7 years. My perspectives and my way of living changed tremendously. I’m still a little but stubborn, but this time I’m not afraid to make mistakes. I learn to trust my gut even more, and I’m opened to all sorts of ideas. I’m not as easily angered as I used to or would break down emotionally when things get tough, but I still have a lot more to go with patience. I’ve definitely gained a lot of weight lol but I’ve never been happier, especially when I’ve always struggle with the way I look growing up. I also have learned how to filter the negative things people say to and about me. To me, this is something only the big(ger) city can do.

So my only wishes to my family once they settled in their new/old life back in Kuching is to not be contained back in a box. Always be opened to changes, new possibilities, exciting opportunities. Never ever settle for comfort. I find that “the box” is something that took me awhile to get out of since living in KL/PJ. Things won’t always go my way, and it won’t be the end of the world when it does. I learned (and still is learning) to grow out of my comfort, experience new foods, adventures and even culture. Sarawak is home, and thus automatically make you succumb to comfort. And I hope especially my growing siblings that they’d be opened to new ideas. When there is a will, there is a way.

Here’s to a new life – one that I am happy to call aunty life – paying household bills, collecting recipes, browsing on household appliances, and doing chores. Here’s to hoping that I will finally have better discipline to complete my goals. lol

x

Hello November


Since my last post, I’ve been keeping things low-key. I took 3 days off social media, kept (most of) my opinions away from twitter, spent a lot of my time off at home, and rethink just about every plans that I had made for my future, be it days, weeks, months, years away. And I’m kinda glad that I did all of those things. In a way, they kept me focused on the “now” – current projects and bigger (than usual) events. I also get to spend more time with the family, because my dad got a letter to transfer back to Sarawak. And I’ve decided to not go with them.

Work wise, so far one of my favourite projects to date was editing a short film produced by Observers’ Playground, a production “playground” that I’ve been a part of since The Lovesical. There had been multiple miscommunications and technical difficulties that almost cost us the deadline. We were doing count downs with series of pictures and two trailers so there was no way for us to miss it due to “technical difficulties”. As the (self-titled) manager for the count down, I wasn’t going to let this slip.

So, I went on and downloaded Adobe Premiere Pro and edited the entire thing myself.

First thing – OMG PREMIERE! I mean, it’s so much lighter than Final Cut Pro X and iMovie. They’re both rubbish to me now LOL. I have never used any Adobe softwares until the day I started editing the movie. In fact, I did everything in under 12 hours – edit, colour, music, and upload. Passable, but there is still so much to learn. I wish I have more projects to work on so I could keep Premiere, even if they are personal projects. Which brings me to a throwback – Letter to November. I really do miss doing these kind of videos.

I’m still doing events at Laundry Bar and The Bee. I took my braces off and now annoyingly wearing a retainer. Every first week upon receiving my paycheck I spend a portion of them on food, like really good, brunch food. I am currently on a Buzzfeed craze – Facebook videos, recipe lists, you name it. I am collecting recipes, doing budgeting, and making a list of things that I will need to buy after my family move out, because you know, the house will be empty and quiet. Wireless printer, check! I also sang at my friend’s wedding, in front of 300++ people.

Here’s my glass for the remaining two months of the year, where I will fill my off days with wishlists, making and saving more money, and planning next year with DIY projects, experiencing kitchen conundrums, and hopefully being able to blog more about my life. I’m particularly excited about home organizing and design ideas, since I will have the entire apartment to play around with!

signing out,
mel x

here is the latest picture of my face, taken earlier this morning on the way to church.
here is the latest picture of my face, taken earlier this morning on the way to church.

 

maybe i’m just not cut out


i need somebody to help redefine the meaning of passion, because i’ve been stripped from it.

up until now, i have always known what i wanted to do. it has always been music. anything behind the scenes, some kind of support to push the industry….if you call me asking me to help i will not have second doubts. i’m beginning to think that the act of putting other people first has been compromising my vision – what i want for myself – and now i just don’t know what to do. it doesn’t help that it’s the first hour of shark week, i’m feeling a little bit all emotional, so maybe i’m just being dramatic.

sure, everybody has one of those days. a bad gig, maybe. i’ve never run away deliberately from something until just awhile ago. i feel like a coward. a loser. anything to be away from total embarrassment. i hate being adult sometimes. i hate to put up this “i know what i’m doing” face even though at times i have zero clue on what i’m doing, but as long as i carry my confidence badge and going through my list of “this will not get you in trouble” i am usual okay. tonight i was not. and it had to be two days after i was told that a rental company wouldn’t hire me because one of the bosses doesn’t like me.

don’t get me started on that one. ranted about it on twitter, so i’m not gonna start talking about it here.

maybe i’m just not cut out you know, to be a sound engineer. i tried. i’ve been learning. i’ve been teaching myself to work under pressure, to have things in control, but tonight, obviously i was not in control, else i wouldn’t be asked to step aside and give my job for the night so somebody better could take over. i could think of a million reasons why things went wrong tonight but it’s just not worth it. i couldn’t stay anymore. i’ve lost my place. i had to leave. i can’t even begin to describe how embarrassed i felt when i was stripped of what i was putting so much effort into, but it’s just not enough.

you can’t compare someone with less than two years of field experience to someone who brags about having 6-10 years of experience. i was given a chance, and i proved to them that i could do it during sound check, minus one percussion player. don’t get me started on that one. she’s a picky person when it comes to the sound of her cajon. the one person i worried the most was the one who couldn’t make it for sound check. anyway, turns out, the biggest feedback tonight wasn’t from the usual culprit – vocal effects – but rather, the overhead mic. and the feedback came from the house, which never got me to think that it would feed from the monitor since i didn’t send any.

excuse my train of thoughts.

i don’t think being fired is the big problem here. this whole emotional, self-doubt journey started when i mixed my first big show, at the same venue, by the same company. things just snowballed from there. which got me thinking – maybe i should just take a break. quit sound engineering for awhile and focus more on PR, marketing, and managing work. engage with my surrounding more and teach myself to be more attentive. one thing about diagnosing yourself with having ADHD, you find yourself always being trapped in your own world, juggling between fantasy and reality. my mind’s not focused on live sound, at least not in the mixing department. i can run, think, and manage well on behalf of and for everybody, but i just can’t mix.

no, i haven’t gotten better at all. so i’m going to take a break. not entirely; i still need to earn some income. but i’m gonna focus more on the administrative and public relations side of things.

this is me simply hoping that it’s just the period cramps talking, because i feel done. i’m done.

 

(this blog is written purely from my frame of thoughts with zero editing. excuse the mistakes.)