Sunday, December 04, 2005

Wondering about writing

LoLlieS asked me a long long long time ago, how my family and I became so good at writing.

Well, firstly, we don't think we're that good. At least I don't think I'm that good at writing.
But I would agree that I like writing, reading and telling stories, and so does most of my family members (even The Sister Who Does Not Blog', henceforth to be referred to as TSWDNB, or maybe DNB (Does Not Blog), for short). So maybe I could shed some light on how we became this way.
damn.. i make it sound like it's some kind of affliction..

My siblings and I grew up telling or listening to stories. When we were young, sources of entertainment was limited. I remember that TV shows only started at 5:30pm or so. If you switched on the TV before then, you'd only see the test pattern. So we had to occupy ourselves with other stuff. When we're not gallavanting in the bushes (Trengganu was filled with bushes then), we're probably hanging out on some wooden platform (gerei) with our friends, or hanging out near the huts where the adults were cooking (nasi dagang or keropok lekor) and listening in to their conversations. Sometimes we made up our own adventrues and stories. I remember one time when mokciknab and I drew elaborate diagrams and made up complex processes on how to turn shit into ice-cream. I am not kidding.

My grandmother's house in Pantai Merang was worse. It didn't have any electricity until the generator was started at dusk (around 7:30pm roughly). So again, we occupied ourselves by playing or hanging out among the adults and listening to their stories. I remember killing at least half of the day watching this old woman who lived in front of my grandmother's house making nissang (sugar made from cooking coconut milk ..err so, 'palm sugar'? *shrug*). It was pretty fascinating to watch her patiently stir the coconut milk in a huge wok, watching it turn from white to sticky brown and then seing this thick gooey stuff being poured into the round moulds and harden up. Then we got to ate the bits that stuck to the bottom of the wok. Yummy. But I digress.
My grandparents would tell us all sorts of stories. Sometimes it was stories about how they or my dad grew up. Sometimes it's silly made up stories, like the one about 3 guys, one with big ears, one with a sharp bum and one with a lot of discharge in his eyes (taik mata), who got on a boat and how the guy with the sharp bum made a hole in the boat when he sat down and the guy with the eyes patched the hole up with his eye-discharge and the guy with the huge ears was used as a sail.
During blackouts in our house, we would sit around my father's feet and he would tell us jokes (some dirty and unfit for young ears) and stories about his childhood or travels. My mom would tell stories about her childhood too, about how she and her 8 siblings lived in a one room house that doubled as a tailor's shop (her parents were tailors), how she got a chance to study in England, her travels around Europe, how we lived in remote Kuala Berang.

My parents were avid readers, we had tonnes and tonnes of books in our house. In fact I remember we once had a whole wall of bookshelves filled with books. So I guess it was only natural that my siblings and I enjoyed reading. Some of us are more voracious than others: me being the worse, because I am quite picky about the books I read and DNB is the slowest (she took forever to finish Lord Of The Rings). Mokciknab is prolly the most well-read in terms of breadth of subjects coz she reads all sorts of technical books, while TulisJe would be the more literature-concious and artistic one, and the male rotidua would be the more adventurous one, appreciating both the well-written and well-drawn stories. I am not sure about Mimi, since I don't get to observe her reading habits first-hand. But I think you can't part a Bustaman from his/her books.

Except for Tulisje, none of us had any formal education in writing. Mokciknab took law. Male-Rotidua went into the visual-production field. DNB took Teaching English as a Second Language. I took engineering. Mimi .. is still in highschool, and it looks like she's leaning towards the performence arts. TulisJe was the only who has a Degree in 'English', which I guess involves alot of writing and reading..

Our backgrounds are reflected in the way we write, I think.

My dad, for instance, used to work for the information ministry and then moved on to the Prime Minister's Department to develop informative documentaries. So the posts on his blogs are mostly like Public Service announcements or documentaries on the Trengganu culture, catered to appeal to the masses. And from the popularity of his blog, you can tell that his writing do have a massive appeal.

Mokciknab tend to be very journalistic in her posts. She tends to write about issues (or makes issues out of the goings on of her everyday life). Her writings are always concise and focused, fit to be in a 5 minute slot on the evening news. Her 'connections' also has given her the ability to look at things from a lot of different perspectives, and listen to the same story from all the different sides. It also sometimes make her a bit jaded and sceptic about things.

The Male Rotidua, when he does write, simply blows you away with his eloquence and his perspective on things. In person, he is just like the way he writes. He doesnt say much, but what he says mostly matters, is rational and makes sense. (Note: The Female Rotidua, though is only related by marriage, suprised us with her eloquence and quirky sense of humor in their blog. We're proud of her :) )

Tulisje is the accomplished writer among us. You can tell that her posts are well-thought out, and probably went through a few drafts, coz they come out so perfect. She tends to write about deep things (except when she talks about college football and the UMich Wolverines) and I am often amazed by her imagination and her ability to convey stories in such a beautiful way.

Mimi .. is still young, and writes like a teenager should. I live vicariously through her shopping trips, teenage-angst and adventures on stage.

Me, having an engineering background, has made me very technical and analytical about things. I think I am best when I am writing instructions and procedures (like when I give out recipes). Ask me to write about one thing and I will break them into little pieces and analyze them bit by bit (like I'm doing with this one). I am always asking Whys and Hows, trying to figure out cause and effects of things that happen around me or that I'm doing. Very Boring.

So, I don't know whether this has given you an insight on how to be a 'good writer', but I hope it has given you an idea on why my family and I write the way we do :)

Blog Comments

Posted by:+PrimaryBasic
Date: 12/04/05 at 10:58 AM (1M1w ago)
if everyone writes in the same style, we would be better off reading just one from the same group.

saya suka blog ini.


"In fact I remember we once had a whole wall of bookshelves filled with books. So I guess it was only natural that my siblings and I enjoyed reading."

we also have tons and tons of books on the bookshelves. but, kenapa my younger ones tak nak membaca? :(

Posted by:elisataufik
Date: 12/05/05 at 5:40 PM (1M1w ago)
I wasnt that keen on reading when I was younger too.. but I saw everyone in my house reading and I got to thinking, "Apalah yang syok sangat baca buku cerita ni ya?" So I started picking up one of my dad's books (I think it was Robert E Heinlein) and was hooked. Thanx to my siblings' 'adventurousness', our family was introduced to Tolkien, Pratchett, Gaiman, Garcia-Marquez.. kalau tidak, jangan harap I nak beli kalau tak kenal..

Posted by:famygirl
Date: 12/04/05 at 11:30 AM (1M1w ago)
this is very nicely written. saya rasa terinspired.

i hope my kids will grow up being ardent fans of books and become good writers like you and your siblings... as you've known, i have started my own collection of tons and tons of books on the bookshelves (I wish I have the luxury to read each and every one of them right now)

Posted by:elisataufik
Date: 12/05/05 at 5:44 PM (1M1w ago)
well, judging from Sofea's talkativeness, if she doesnt become a good writer, she'd definitely become a good pengacara or penyanyi nasyid.. ha ha!

Posted by: Tengku Sheril Amirah (View Website)
Date: 12/04/05 at 3:25 PM (1M1w ago)
performing arts all de way man!!

muahahaha, oh yeas, and you asked me to leave a "not" here, so here it goes.

I don't really want anything frm The Land Of The Sand(my friend is already bringing me back melted snow in a bottle from UK) but I don't mind a shopping trip back here in Malaysia. *grin*

but den, its the thought tat counts so juz hantam and get me anything you think mite be nice *pssst scanky tops and bras*

Posted by:elisataufik
Date: 12/05/05 at 5:52 PM (1M1w ago)
okay.. a skanky top it is then.. I hope I have the time (and money) to go shopping before next week..

Posted by: ninuk (View Website)
Date: 12/04/05 at 4:01 PM (1M1w ago)
and i can vouch you are also good at "writing programmes/sql scripts" dan yang sewaktu dengannya !

Posted by:elisataufik
Date: 12/05/05 at 6:01 PM (1M1w ago)
oh.. I don't know whether I can still remembr how to do that.. the only 'serious' writing I do nowadays are notes to the boys' teachers..

Posted by:LoLlieS
Date: 12/04/05 at 4:37 PM (1M1w ago)
I see I see. I am very intrigue with the storytellings and listening to stories that you folks had when you are little. it definitely runs in the family. simply amazing

Posted by:elisataufik
Date: 12/05/05 at 6:07 PM (1M1w ago)
I am sure your kids will benefit from your love of storytelling as well :)

Posted by:+pizzofmine
Date: 12/04/05 at 8:01 PM (1M1w ago)
hmmmmm.....*nodding sagely*

Posted by:elisataufik
Date: 12/05/05 at 6:11 PM (1M1w ago)
encik namra.. kamu akan datang ke gathering tak????
heh heh .. i'm gonna bug bug bug you like a ghost haunts and abandoned house.

Posted by:+pizzofmine
Date: 12/05/05 at 6:21 PM (1M1w ago)
I'll have to take a massive rain check on that. Got so many datelines all lining up screaming my name as if I am some rock star

Posted by: The Elusive Mr R
Date: 12/05/05 at 1:49 AM (1M1w ago)
Joe, who's Mimi?
There's kak long, u, megababe, didie, who's mimi??



Posted by:elisataufik
Date: 12/05/05 at 6:17 PM (1M1w ago)
Mimi is my youngest sister. Eh I never told u about her meh?

Posted by:nekbat
Date: 12/05/05 at 2:31 AM (1M1w ago)
Am always enthralled at your stories, however mundane. And you are creative other ways too. I istill remember your upside down signature masa kat maktab, which I thought was real cool.

Posted by:elisataufik
Date: 12/05/05 at 6:25 PM (1M1w ago)
you know what, I still sign upside down.. but now instead of 'elisa bustaman', I now sign 'elisa taufik' :)
people always ask if my singature siamese, and I always love the expression of wonder on their faces when I turn it around and they could read it.

Posted by: AzeedA
Date: 12/05/05 at 3:39 AM (1M1w ago)
Hi, Kak Lisa! I'm one of most prolly many others who hops around ur 'blood blogs'.. really enjoy reading u + family's creative entries.. KEEP IT UP!!! and... luuurrvveee PJ's Alive sign up there... ;)

Posted by:
Date: 12/05/05 at 6:30 PM (1M1w ago)
On behalf of my family, thankyou for visiting us.. datang lah lagi.. :)

Posted by: Alsa aka Ayu lol (View Website)
Date: 12/05/05 at 6:27 AM (1M1w ago)
My goodness gracious! Mata terbeliak baca entry ni. I to love to write but ill never be as good as you - Syok baca ur blog- ever thought of blog em up in a book? oi bukan nak bodek yer... its true! hehe suka ati u la nak call i ayu ker, ape ker, np .. hmm do u hv IMs? can i add u? my yahoo id is ayulinro n my msn is - take care

Posted by:elisataufik

Date: 12/05/05 at 6:35 PM (1M1w ago)
I have msn, but.. ermm.. jarang on-line because I think it's slows other stuff up.. but I'll add you in. You'd never guess what my msn id is..heh heh

Posted by: Tengku Sheril Amirah (View Website)
Date: 12/05/05 at 3:00 PM (1M1w ago)
to The Exclusive Mr R - *i brought it upon myself to answer dis comment* ehem, I'm mimi. The youngest of the Kustamangs.

Posted by:elisataufik
Date: 12/05/05 at 6:37 PM (1M1w ago)
maybe I should right about you lah one day..

Posted by: TheCharmedOne
Date: 12/05/05 at 4:11 PM (1M1w ago)
Turn shit into ice cream!!! It's disgusting!!! Nothing to talk about ke that time?? :)

Posted by:elisataufik
Date: 12/05/05 at 6:43 PM (1M1w ago)
wehhhhh I was maybe 6 or 7 and mokciknab was 10 or 11. We were just fooling around, probably while waiting for the kuba bala (kerbau gembala) to walk past our front yard (behind our house was a paddy field).
Fun apa...

Posted by: JoKontan (View Website)
Date: 12/06/05 at 2:43 AM (1M1w ago)

This post answered a wholelotta questions, I had earlier. I've been reading and enjoying all Kustamangs delicious posts sejak azali lagi. Ek, dunno male rotidua has one ?.

But this is the first time commenting, feeling inferior, terasa 'seperti dua darjat'. I, simply cannot write.

When Modblog went Posa 6, few days back, I was busy looking around,."Bila nak on nih ?"

Posted by:elisataufik
Date: 12/06/05 at 5:40 AM (1M1w ago)
Your writing okay what... very enjoyable reading. Especially bila terkeluor loghat pahang sket sket.

Posted by: The Elusive Mr R
Date: 12/06/05 at 3:03 AM (1M1w ago)
Joe (and Mimi if ur reading),

I swear to god i tak pernah tau the existence of *your youngest sister* ni until now. I'm beyond astonished that only now I discover that there's another sister. I dah pegi rumah u banyakkkkk kali dah, and tak pernah pun jumpa Mimi ni. Either I was stoned everytime I was there, or you have never mentioned it to me, or something doesn't add up. It's like Sydney Bristow finding out that SD6 were the baddies...heheh.

Posted by: elisataufik
Date: 12/06/05 at 5:22 AM (1M1w ago)
and I am astonished that you have the time (and energy) to watch Alias..
Dah lah ada anak kecik 2 orang.
ini mesti kes laki-bini dua-dua suka tengok Alias nih...

Posted by: marinadelrey (View Website)
Date: 12/06/05 at 7:32 AM (1M1w ago)
so that's the story.. i've been wondering the same thing all this while...i applaud the fact that u and ur whole family are so expressive in ur writing and can freely let forth ur thoughts via blog and it is something that all of you can share among family members as well...writing for me is a very private part of myself..and i find that there are things i can't even express freely, without worrying that the rest of my family may be reading it...thus, the anonymity... kudos to u n the whole Bustaman clan 4 ur excellent blogs! I'm a great fan of all of u...:-)

Posted by:zan
Date: 12/07/05 at 7:23 AM (1M1w ago)
saya pun terinspired...thanks for the entry, moi very bad with languages, let alone writing...

fyi, mr zul pun selalu puji your style in writing.

Posted by: Tengku Sheril Amirah (View Website)
Date: 12/10/05 at 2:38 PM (1M4d ago)
to The Exclusive Mr R(again) - I like to lead a quite life. my sisters are always so busy with their kids and everything that I just sink in because I'm family. and usually, family members need not be mentioned. *winks*

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