First post-GST Silverfish Writing programme!

Our first Silverfish Writing Programme after the abolishment of GST will commence on Saturday, July 14, 2018. Registration will commence on June 1, 2018 (so we can stop collecting GST), and an early bird discount of 10% (from the regular fee of RM1320) will apply to all those who register up to and including June 30, 2018. The10-week programme will run every Saturday from July 14 to September 15, 2018 from 10.30am to 12.30pm, at the boardroom of the Royal Commonwealth Society, at No 4, Jalan Birah, Damansara Heights, 50490 KL. (Tell your ride to come after 1.00pm because our discussions always go on much longer).

Thank God, that’s over. You have no idea what it was doing to businesses. In our mall alone several have shuttered, many sold out, some can't pay salaries or rent, and the mall was increasingly becoming like a graveyard. Many are still wondering wtf just happened.(It will take a while to go back to normalcy.)

You might say that GST was only 6%, so what was the big deal? 

Well for one thing, reports say the government made RM27.5B in 2015 from GST (NST, 21 Mar 2016), RM38,5B in 2016 (The Star, 21 oct 2016), RM44B in 2017 (NST, 24 Jan 2018) and let’s estimate, RM20B in the first 5 month of 2018. In other words, a whopping RM130B was sucked out from our economic system in 38 months! Approx. RM3.5B a month! (Yes, that was the giant sucking sound you thought you've been hearing!) 

I am no expert but imagine half your blood sucked out of your body when you are already ill; you’ll be very sick indeed. Even if all that money was put back into the system (was it?), imagine the effect of leakage (20%, 30% … more?) and latency. (Maybe, a professional economist can help us out here.) The GST was rife with incompetence even before the go.

How did we even manage to survive?

Last year, Raya was terrible, everyone was cutting back — from all that we heard. This year, Raya looks and feels more upbeat, more joyous; there is more skip in the steps, the air smells cleaner, and the head feels lighter. Even the streets seem safer. Motorists are more considerate, one sees more smiling faces, and vendors appear to be bending over backwards to be polite.

It is a good feeling. Let’s make it last. HAVE A GREAT HARI RAYA!!!! You deserve it! We all do.

Oh, you can register for the Silverfish Writing Programme at Silverfish Books @ Bangsar Village 2, Tel: 03-22844837 (cash, cheque, money transfer or credit card) or online: (No booking please, first come, first served). All our previous workshops have been fully subscribed. So, we advise you to register early to avoid disappointment.

And about the programme:

This programme is not about creative writing. In fact, we don't believe there is such a thing. There is only skilful writing, that which keeps out of the way and allows the story to do the talking. Language is only a tool, and must be sharpened like a good chef's knife, but it is not the meal. A chef's job is to create a great meal, and a sharp knife helps (as opposed to a blunt one). Similarly, with the storyteller. Too often, good language is mistaken for good storytelling. (The Malay phrase bunga-bunga is succinct.) If the language is clumsy, blunt or fussy, it will only take over the spotlight and obscure the story, and readers will have no idea what the author is trying to say. The author is just showing off, like a six-year-old in the company of adults. "Mummy, mummy, see how clever I am." So, how does one make language stay out of the way?

Another important aspect of storytelling is the 'voice'. A strong authoritative and authentic voice is vital (not just reading, but writing, although the former also helps). It has been said that all stories have already been told. Maybe. But you can have your own take, use your own voice for an original telling. This is not magic but feels like that once you master it. Yes, it can be taught. Dog bites man is not a story, but if the man bites the dog, it becomes one. How does one look at a story differently? Creatively.

Then there is style, or the absence of it. No style is style. Many people want to write after they have read a book and want to write just like it. Why? At best, yours will be a good imitation; at worse, a bad one. In either case, why would anyone want to read your derivative story? And the style will be someone else's. How do you develop your own style?

These are some points that will be discussed during the workshop.