Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Word by Word and Step by Step

Ovidia--every other Tuesday

Warning: I'm still on antibiotics, painkillers and self-injected blood thinners so I'm just going to write a happy post today. 

(I thought of warning you this post might not make too much sense--but that would suggest I make sense the rest of the time, which isn't true either, so--)

The procedure was nothing serious. But because of the epilepsy, the blood that tends to clot, the heart valves that don't always close as designed, the preparation and recovery stretch out over two weeks. And everything hurts!

Still, life is good. 

I was miffed to miss the events on the opening weekend of this year's Singapore Writers Festival, but I'll make it there come Friday for my 'Conversation' with two brilliant women--Jesse Q. Sutanto and Balli Kaur Jaswal, moderated by the wonderful Sharmini Flint.

And working up to the event this Friday, I've finally ventured outdoors again.

I think of this grove of 'iron plants' 铁树 (Tie Shu) just outside our side gate as friendly sentinels. They seldom flower, but when they do, as part of a mass flowering all over Singapore, the fragrance is fantastic. 

I've also missed the smaller plants. 

Like the whitehead sedge here. I know they are 'weeds' (because they grow so easily?) but I believe in the 'old days' people used to boil down its roots to treat fevers, while the whole plants was used to bind and treat sprains and bruises. 

I remember playing with them as a child. Unlike lallang, the sedge leaves aren't sharp enough to slice through flesh. And if, starting from opposite ends, you pulled apart its triangular stem along different grooves, you end up with a square (though I don't remember why we did that!)

The harder to spot Chinese Violet is another old friend,

It looks like a tiny orchid, but the flower is actually tubular, with purple markings on the lobes of its lower lip. What's really great about these tiny flowers they are a host plant for butterflies.

I tried following a trail, but it was really muddy, and when I reached a couple of fallen trees I figured it was time to turn back!


 Here is one compensation though--

This flat whorled mushroom is a polypore. It's actually consuming and decomposing the wood it's growing on. It sounds kind of creepy, kind of like how writers consume the life around us to produce dramatic patterns on flat surfaces! 

Though occasionally something useful comes out of this--the lingzhi mushroom, known for its health benefits is a polypore and so is the Kofuki-saru-no-koshikake of Japanese mushroom tea!

And I've been trying to keep up with NaNoWriMo too. (Wendall, your post made me laugh and pulled me back from the edge, thank you!) 

I've also gotten several books out of rough drafts that only came to be thanks to NaNoWriMo, and I still write on Scrivener, which I discovered (and love) via NaNoWriMo.

Right now I've got a vague idea in my head of what happens in the book to be, but as for the why, I've resorted to holding interviews with my characters and writing down the answers towards my word count.

For example:

Me: Bad Guy W, why are you so mean to Protag N?

BGW: I'm not mean to anybody. I barely noticed her until she started getting in my way! The other one, though. Your Protag S. I think she's deliberately provoking me. See? She just came and pushed me aside!

Me: She's trying to run her hotel and you keep breaking the rules. You're the one who's provoking her.

BGW: You know how much money I put into the hotel? How much money I'm losing here? If I pull out now they'll crash! They need me! They should show me some respect! Even Protag S's mother thinks she should treat me better! With more respect!

Me: Why don't you pull out your money to teach Protag S a lesson?

BGW: I can't. Not now. Anyway, hotels are expected to lose large sums of money.

Protag S: Is this going to be about money laundering? BGW has been giving my Ma so much money on the side? He pretends it's to win her over so he can court me, but I know that's a lie.

Protag N: Why not? Singapore is known for being squeaky clean, so if you want to launder money you should go to the best laundromat, right?

Me: Maybe that would work... let me look up some figures... thanks very much, guys!

Left to Right: Samantha Song (Protag S), Wang DaRen (BGW), Natalie Harris (Protag N)

Having something physical to move around is a Huge help when I'm trying work out who's doing what, where and why!

Good luck to everyone else who's working through NaNoWriMo right now! 





  1. Glad to hear you're on the mend, Ovidia. I think a mystery consisting of an interview between the author and the characters could be really interesting...

  2. I hope you are completely recovered very soon, Ovidia. Michael read 'The Word is Murder' by Anthony Horowitz. The author talks about writing a book about the writer writing a book about a character in the book. Thumbs up.

  3. Hi Ovidia,
    I hope your Conversation today at the Singapore Writers Festival went swimmingly! And that you are more than well on the way to fully mended. NanNoWriMo seems to work in mysterious ways for many. Maybe next year for me. :)