I think I’ve led a good life.

Sometimes, I think I’ve led a very blessed, very safe life. Very ordinary and hence, unremarkable, but only because I haven’t done enough charity or recorded my first ‘albumen’. Otherwise, on the whole, I am satisfied.

But I am an easily satisfied person. I think that’s a good thing, although you may disagree with me when this entry is through.

Of course, there are regrets. Such is life, or else it would be One Big Bore, wouldn’t it? No, there aren’t many, but enough to keep me up some nights, wondering the could’ve beens and what-ifs.

When I wrote that essay about things I would tell my 16-year old self, I’m sure you, my astute reader, knew it was in effect an essay about regrets. But there is one huge regret I did not mention, and that is the regret that I didn’t try hard enough to finish college.

I’m sure it shows in my writing. Once, four years into my career as a journalist, a colleague of mine in Singapore wrote my boss an email, commenting that I wrote like an O-level student.

I had written a short essay about…something, I don’t even remember what. It was one of my first non-tech essays in my very own column in a Singaporean lifestyle rag. And you know what? He was right. Two issues later, the mag folded, my column along with it. I returned to a dismal subsistence, the toil of tech reporting, hammering out one product launch after another, one media lunch after another. Contrary to popular misconception (and what the government will have you believe), there is no glamour in the Malaysian tech beat. Not for the mag business anyway, and not for the tech writers that slave in it.

I read law as an external student with the Uni of London for three years, and at the cusp of my final year, out of funds and faced with another year of digesting Jurisprudence, I decided to apply for a job. Any job that would take me, as long as it would pay the bills.

And there it was, a small, inconspicuous ad of four lines in The Star:

Staff Writers Wanted
No experience necessary
English proficiency a must
Call (the number eludes me)

And so, one crisp Wednesday morning in 1995, I walked into the offices of E&O Media Asia in an ill-fitting three-piece, black panty hose stretched perilously over bulging calves, thundering thighs and a nervous stomach.

And walked out a staff writer. The rest, as they say, is history.

After 12 years of doing this, I am still an O-level writer. You may think I write well, but with all due respect, I don’t think you read enough. That’s what I tell my husband.

Perhaps I hold myself to standards too high. Standards like Ian McEwan and Marisha Pessl and Amir Muhammad and Zedeck Siew and Zadie Smith. You will never know how many times I have looked at the lifeless yet dying words on my screen, and deleted entire posts, before logging on guiltily to level my priest, or curl timidly under the covers to bathe in the words of my masters, hoping that by some miracle, some of the ingenuity would soak through.

Would I have achieved greatness if I’d finished my law degree? A big part of me thinks so. Had I the discipline to complete my education, even if it had nothing to do with writing or literature, I might’ve lost the excuse I have today for not writing better.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not completely devoid of hope. I am nothing if not stubborn, even as I toil the daily corvee that is motherhood. I am not Mommified. Not yet anyway. After all, look at where I am: The Land of the Living Mommies. If you look at the number of mommy blogs, books written by moms (might there even be a Mommycon?), you can’t help but be inspired. And that is what I am hoping for. To be culturally influenced to write better.

And if that fails, one can always go back to school, right?


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