Sunday, October 17, 2010

Are you going to be a millionaire?

Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. ANON

I couldn’t resist quoting the above although my post has nothing to do with crazy people. I want to tell you, dear reader, about the different reactions of friends, acquaintances and strangers when they learned that I’ve written a book.

“Oh? You’ve written a book? Are you going to be a millionaire?”
That made my jaw drop. I couldn’t decide if the poser of question was ignorant, or he was just pulling my leg

If it was spoken in jest, it wasn’t funny at all. If ignorance was his excuse, he should ask: if one could get rich by writing and publishing a book in Malaysia, then why aren’t a few million Malaysians churning out books for publication instead of struggling at their nine-to-five jobs?

While many, many people wish me well and hope my book sells briskly, there are also friends(?) who get physically sick when someone mentions about my book in their presence! Well, it happened… at least once. I had to change the subject and spare her ladyship the details so she wouldn’t throw up on my favorite sandals.

Then there are those who probably have a fixed perception of what a writer should be: well-educated with at least a doctorate in something; dashing and eloquent. And I’m not at all any of these. In fact, I look so ‘uneducated’ that an officer at the Income Tax Department (where I had once taken Mama to settle her tax problem) asked me: Can you speak English?

“Sikit-sikit,” I replied. A little. To which he smiled a smug, little smile.

I’ve also come across a few people who thought they’d do me a great favour if they supplied me with ideas and plots for a book. All I have to do is just write the book, they insist, and when it’s published we’ll share the profits fifty-fifty. They can’t understand why I keep refusing to accept their generosity.

There had been quite a number who asked if I could give them free copies of my book. They thought I could just go to the publisher and get unlimited free copies!

Some of the loveliest people are those who became my virtual, online friends after they’ve read my book. All of them just wish me well and say they hope I’ll continue to write. Several of my old school friends, bless them, have also been very excited and happy for me and bought their own copies.

I only wish that instead of asking for free copies, friends (and relatives!) would simply ask: where can I buy your book?

Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Perhaps you, too, have been baffled with unexpected reactions towards some undertaking you had done?


  1. When I came across your book (in a bookstore in Miri, I think), I didn't think twice. I have been looking for books on Sabahan's culture and history and as you know, they are few and far in between (and my father got a copy for himself too, since we don't live together and we could not wait until we next meet up before we get to read!)

    I hope there will be more such books on what life was like in those days, from you or from other Sabahans - our younger generation need to know our historical background so we won't forget that life hasn't always been about the internet, Lady Gaga and iPhone :-D

    All the best with the sales of this book!

  2. I got mine (your book, signed by you) from my 72-yr old dad-in-law. Great guy, him: I want him to relate the many experiences and stories he had as a Malaria Control government guy in the late 50s when he traversed the State especially the interior.

  3. Hi Jewelle and Rayner!
    Thanks for popping in.
    @Jewelle, I'm also hoping that more Sabahans will write about our various cultures and history. I'm touched to hear that you and your dad couldn't wait to read the book.

    @Rayner, your dad-in-law must be that guy who told me that he used to travel all over Sabah as a medical officer. He doesn't look 72! I told him he must write about his experiences. What a treasure to leave for you all!

  4. that's normal aunty. I always got that 'look' whenever new ppl get to know me in Paintball. Owh well, at least we proved something that they didn't have. *grins*