THE 21 CLASSIC MALAYSIAN WRITERS
AS A BOOK EDITOR for a good many years now, I have been very fortunate to have met lots of writers from all walks of life and from all levels of emotional intelligence. Here are just a couple of them—classics in the annals of Malaysian wannabe writers—to whet your appetite:
- “As far as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a writer. But I’m so busy with work commitments and all that I have no time to write. Writing is so hard and time-consuming. Do you think you could pay somebody good to write for me? But please make sure my name appears on the cover of the book, okay?”
Well, as far as I can remember, I have always wanted to write for others.
- “I know my grammar is really bad—but you can clean it up for me since you are the editor, right? I give you permission to rewrite it for me if you want to.”
I know I will die rewriting it. In fact, I have died a thousand deaths just doing this through the years.
- “You can do anything as you please with my book. You are very good.”
I am really not that good.
- “I am not a writer or anything. But could you fax me a sample contract and a guide to submitting a manuscript—just in case I do decide to become a writer one day.”
I could also fax you a list of suggested hors d’oeuvres to serve during the launch party if you wish.
- “My English is not good. But I don’t want people to edit my stuff. I want to retain the essence of my writing. So, do you want my book or not?”
- “Could you tell me how to get my book published in
Londonor ? I don’t like to publish my manuscript in New York because I don’t want my book edited. You know anybody in Malaysia Bloomsbury, HarperCollinsor Random House?”
- “Everyone has a book inside them. All you need to do is to write it.”
Though it is true to say that everyone has a book inside them, most books are meant to stay where they are: yes, inside them! Some books are not meant to see the light of day.
- “I would like to discuss about the promotion of my book. What shall I serve for the launch?”
This from an author who hasn’t written his book.
- “I don’t want to make any appearances to promote my book. I’m a very private person. It’s your responsibility as publisher to sell my book. I don’t want to sell my own books. If I have to sell my own books, I might as well publish them myself.”
This from another author who has yet to write his magnum opus.
- “I am calling from my mobile phone. I have written something but I need somebody to advise me. Could I have your mobile phone number? Maybe we can meet up and chat about it? You want to be my literary agent?”
- “You are so lucky to be an editor. You get to read all the wonderful stuff before they appear in the bookshops. Imagine: you actually get to read them before others.”
Wow! I never thought about my job this way. Yes, I must be so lucky!
- “How much is the royalty? So little one-ah? Never mind-lah, I will check with other publishers first.”
Shopping around for a publisher who would pay her a royalty of 20 per cent for a book she hasn’t written! By the way, J.K. Rowling only gets a royalty of 11-plus per cent.
- “You just tell me what you want and I will write it for you.”
An angel from above here to answer my prayers.
- “If J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown can do it, I can do it too.”
Yeah, go ahead and do it, man! And quit talking about it!
- “I cannot fax you samples of my work. I’m afraid that you just might steal my work.”
Go ahead and keep it to yourself then!
- “I have not published anything. But I have an agent in London.”
- “You may not like it, but there are many people who will enjoy reading it.”
It’s my solemn duty to spare people the agony of reading it.
- “Yes, I know I don’t have enough material for a full-length book. Perhaps we could use a bigger font, put bigger spaces between lines and use higher-grammage paper to make the book look thick, substantial and overflowing with knowledge. What do you think?”
I think I won’t have a place in heaven if I do what you are telling me to do.
- “What about my class assignments?”
Well, if they are good, why not?
- “You don’t need to edit my manuscript. It’s as perfect as it gets. My wife has edited it. She teaches English, you know.”
Yeah, I know.
- “I want to know how much my royalty would be if I were to write a book. I would like to check whether it is worth my time writing a book.”
Well, if you sell a million copies of your book, you will make at least a million. However, if you do not sell any copies, you won’t get any royalties at all.