As many of my ER know by now, I am also writing a leisure column for TheSundayPost based in Sarawak rotating with fellow Bloggers. I sent off the folowing piece for TODAY's PUBLICATION, but just note that when you write for a newspaper, your article is subject to EDITING by the Copy EDitor.
I am okay with this standard procedure.
But in a previous workplace some juniors had complained to me that when their copies had been subbed (sub-edited), the outcome was rendered poorer in quality.
What I am not okay with is when there are sub-editors or copy editors who are not up to the task. The reporter submits a story written in good Englsih and it's re-written in a way even a well-read primary pupil would take offence to. I cite an example (an analogy so that the poor blighter would not be exposed unlike the Emperor at Putrajaya in his new clothes...)
The detainee heard other cellmates shout and scream for help. He could hear some prisoners groan above his cell.
The detainee heard other cellmates shouted and screamed for help. He could hear prisoners groaned above his cell.
NOTE: The example cited is NOT from any of the newspapers, online or print, I am now contributing to. But rest asured it is a True-life Case, not a pigment of my imagination, admittedly as vivid as my Sunday CON BF and endless cups of tehtarik I still can afford at this gleefool moment.
ANOTHER feature to remember is that when you contribute anarticle to any news medium, it is the PREROGATIVE of the Editor to edit (including drastically cutting down the length) the original to suit the style and other requisites of the particular medium. If any contributor finds this a constraint, he just has to bear with it, and adapt accordingly. Or as a last resort, ship out. Many writers of novels and essays can be stubborn to want their articles untouched except for language and typos, not its contents and length. I guess if thou art in the league of William Shakespeare or Salman Rushdie or Earnest Hemingway, or an UnearnestyHumminggay, you can have that privilege. It's still a privilege, never a right.
Now try to ENJOY my unedited Times and Chimes piece if you can.
If you can't, it's not your loss, it's my regret.
Living dreams through the child
by Desiderata-YL Chong
In my first Times & Chimes article, I had shared that
I would have traded the world to become a lawyer,
instead of being caught in my present station as a
journalist. I also noted the irony that a recent
acquaintance who was a practising lawyer had wished to
become a jornalist. I thought aloud how wonderful itf
only we could have traded places.
A poet whose works I admire, Max Ehrmann, had in fact
qualified as an attorney but earned his bread and
butter mainly helping out the family meat-packing
business. He later earned a name in history by
pursuing his passion in writing. My favourite of his
poems "Desiderata Of Happiness" starts with "Go
placidly amid the noise and the haste, And remember
what peace there may be in silence." And of course, my
penname, "Desiderata", was derived from this most
quoted poem, a sort of American peace anthem of the
hippies era of the 1960s.
We all have our own individual dreams, and lucky are
those who manage to carve out a career in adult life
that is a culmination of their dream. For those who
fail, often many adults try to live out their dreams
through their next generation.
I plead guilty to the same offence. I tried my best,
not too subtly, to persuade my three children to study
law at university. I never failed to tune to TV
channels showing the galmour and drama of court cases
like LA Law and Ally McBeal. Those attractive,
articulate men and women attired handsomely in
immaculate black suits -- I had hoped would work some
magic on my sons.
To say I was disappointed when the "little boy" (yes,
parents always refer to the youngest thus as a sort of
psychological hope that the child remains cute and
innocent, yes, Forever Young!) opted to take up
Economics and Finance at a local university is an
under-statement two years ago. His brothers had
graduated in Mass Communications and Information
Technology and Business earlier. What could have been
a blessing in disguise was I did not have any daughter
-- for it could have turned out she might have
overdosed on McBealism, and acquired actress Calista
Flockhart's "Twiggy" look. What if she collapsed in
walking up the stairs, and other parents could then
accuse me of starving her. "Child abuse!". the
pressman in me could visualise the news headline.
How many parents have not been guilty of pushing their
children to study the Sciences although their kids
might have been more inclined in the Arts? I have seen
many parents forcing their sons who did not even study
Biology in upper secondary school to pursue Medicine.
A normal six-year course could turn into double the
time taken to complete. And I believe the
psychological burden would have taken a heavy toll on
such young ones, permanently stuck like being a square
peg in a round hole. Parental choice for ecstasy, a
child's lifelong agony.
Another TV programme I enjoy is the "American Idol",
especially the audition rounds. I am amazed at the
fact how many delusionary adults there are out there
trying to chase impossible dreams. I truly appreciate
one of the judges, Siimon Cowell, who pulls no punches
in his opinions of the contestants.
A recent press report quoted Cowell as lamenting that
it was parents who had goaded on their tone-deaf
children to audition.
"I'm presuming the paernts have heard them sing before
they leave to go to American Idol," he said.
"they hear what we're hearing and they go 'Fantastic,
you're going to win', so they're the ones who have
been cruel this year."
Even as I watched these contestants leaving the room
-- after singing in the wrong pitch and switching
several keys in just one minute of singing! -- their
parents waiting in the wings would console the weeping
youth that the judges did not appreciate their
talents. And the losers still swearing curses at
Cowell and Randy and Paula Abdul! Parents living
dreams through their child -- but both parties wearing
Back to me, so I landed up writing -- I proudly
announce I deal in wordsmithry! -- for my three round
meals and a weekend continental breakfast, and
occasional family holiday, my "capitalist"
indulgences. I deem myself mostly a socialist, the
term I used to describe myself to tease my new-found
friends. But now thinking back, it was the most
natural occupation to be in, playing around with
wordfs I mean. I had excelled in writing since the age
of fourteen, penning short stories and essays for
student magazines, earning enough to take my siblings
for weekend "cheap matinees".
In the good, olde days, children spent time either in
the library's corner, or playing outdoors, and I must
admit I was spending more time on the former,
devouring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes,
and Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, and at one time,
I harboured hopes of becoming a golbe-trotting
detective. Also gorging on Rider Haggard's and Robert
Louis Stevenson's fantasy or true-life adventures of
heroes, pirates and fortune hunters, and the
inevitable beguiling beauty as the trophy-heroine.
But today, when my home computer breaks, I visit the
Internet cafe, and I am sad to see so many teenagers
glued to playing computer games. Even as I take leave
after working four hours, they are still stuck to the
PC screens, breaking out in laughter or victory cries
after achieving some high scores beating "imaginary"
foes. I wonder where they got their money from, and do
their parents not worry they are wasting away their
childhood and youth? And acquiring colourful language
which during our days only the non-school-going
country bumpkins would dare use. You know, those
expletives in Hakka or Cantonese we would term as
"expletives", including that four-letter "F" word.
How times have changed, and in my opinion, for the
worse, and if there is prejudice on my part, please
excuse my bias. In the past, we would rather go
fishing and play Cowboys and Red Indians, or painting
Uncle's fences on his farm, ala Tom Sawyer or
Huckleberry Finn. Contrast this close embrace with
Mother Nature with modern day kids "lepakking" at the
mall or Internet cafe -- give me the former activity
I guess 21st century life brings along more and
greater stresses to working parents, and many
compensate for their absences from their children by
giving them lots of pocket money. And a maid to do the
home-caring. I even had a fishmonger friend whose son
was caught playing truant from school spending some
RM10 a day (a conservative guess) playing computer
games with his classmates, then maybe adjourning to
the adjourning cinetheque for a break.
Along with modern living come its conveniences and
gadgets and very often, the currency to these gadgets
and conveniences is Money. And the lack of money
drives many to the edge. To steal, to borrow, and in
the worst scenario -- to committing suicide. I urge
parents to get to know their children better and know
also the people they hang out with. Peer pressure is
the shaping influence in a teenager's life, and
remember that "Birds of a faether flock together" and
I pray few parents find out too late they have lost
their child to drug addiction through their own
neglect and negligence, unwitting though it may be.
Another secret I would now confess to. My youngest
boy, now 21, is blessed with musical talents, having
studied piano and poicked up guitaring and singing on
his own. At one stage, he expressed to me his
aspiration to pursue a degree in Music. After a long
pause, I advised him that his survival in this higly
competitive world would be best served with a first
professional qualification, and he could chase his
musical dreams as a hobby. He relented, and even today
I don't know if I had decided "rightly" to advise him
To many involved in the field of entertainment, the
greatest pressure is to always to perform well.
Success does not come easy. For many aspiring singers
and actresses, money or fame seems so elusive. For
every one who reaches the peak of success, many would
have fallen by the wayside, into oblivion.
Even after attaining success, the pressures of
performing drive many to dabble with drugs, and there
are many, even among Hollywood greats, who had
succumbed. One of my idols, Elvis Presley, was a
victim. "Ray" the movie also depicted vividly the
tragedy of Ray Charles who became blind at a young
age, but carved a successful career in singing. Who
could resist singing along with his "I can't stop
loving you"? But along the long adult nights of
travelling and performing and away from home, women
became a diversion, and drugs consumed him.
I hope my "musica" son would still follow his dream
after getting his economics degree as I can empathise
with his enjoyment of singing like all in my family.
Finally I share with parents these verses from Elvis',
dedicated to all as enjoying words in verse set to
tune crosses all age barriers -- young, old and
Follow That Dream
Follow that dream, I gotta follow that
Keep a-movin, move along, keep a moving
I've got to follow that dream wherever that dream may
I've got to follow that dream to find the love I
So I end this piece with an advice to the children --
don't rush into adulthood prematurely. To the parents,
I say "Let It Be" when the young ones wish to pursue
their own dreams if that's their talent and God's gift
they wish to hone. For each must follow his or her own
destiny according to the calling. To school and collge
students, learn to enjoy the outdoors flying kites and
bicycling or fishing and travelling. Such times of
abandon and carefree activity may not ever come again
when the cares and challenges of adulthood arrive,
often before you realise it and you're not quite
Dear young ones, when it's raining cats and dogs
outside, though this is the Year of The Fire Boar,
pick up a book by Charles Dickens, like "David
Copperfield". I hope you are not thinking I am
referring to that magician who could make a Boeing 747
disappear into thin air!
__________ Ends T&C article_______________
DESI: All writers need a good Editor. A second person reading one's copy can "detect" any obvious typos or lapses. From my unedited article, note the following:
"Siimon" was spelt in one instance with two "i"s.
The transposition of e and a in one word in "Birds of a faether flock together"
If you manage to spot any more "Howlers", please inform this Scribe. But you don't get a prize, mayhaps a price to pay for being such a dar'ing Boar!:)