Space

One thing I’ve come to value a lot in all of my partnerships these days, is space. 

In the last few months since my newfound freedom, I’ve explored potential partnerships with several people and I’ll be honest and say that I have a favourite. 

We’re working on something that’s far more complex than setting up an ecommerce store or a media website. It involves government regulations and consideration of user privacy. 

With marketing and advertising policies that are even stricter than what I’m used to, it’s not an easy industry to navigate within. To top it all off, it’s a side hustle for now — we both have our respective businesses — and we are getting this off the ground with minimal capital. 

It’s been a long process. But we are still grinding. 

What I appreciate most is that I’m given space, and yet am held accountable.

There are no incessant late-night messages with an expected instant reply to deal with. In fact, instant replies are never asked for. There are no last-minute meetings or requests for right-now deliverables. 

These were things that were previously expected from me and I now realise that lack of space is a sign of disrespect. It says, “Your time is less valuable than mine.”

This partner and I still have deliverables and deadlines but these are planned out in advance. We neither over-promise nor over-expect. We communicate when we can, when we need to.

I’m grateful for the space that I’m being given. And I’m doing my best to give the same in return. 

Trust

I once read somewhere (probably written by Cory Doctorow or Neil Gaiman) that piracy isn’t the worst thing for a creator. What’s worse is obscurity.

I’ll admit that I don’t always buy the books I read. Considering how much and how wide my consumption is, my book budget just doesn’t allow it.

And a free ebook is how I discovered the Veredian Chronicles series by Regine Abel, an author previously unknown to me.

After reading the first four books in the series, I had to see how the story ended and eventually signed up for a Kindle Unlimited subscription (something I’ve been wanting to do but have been putting off).

If the writing were better, I would have probably read her other books as well. After further browsing through the selection available on Unlimited, I ended up adding more of Regine Abel’s work to my library.

While some writers might think that putting up their books (or other writing) for free might take away from their income, the truth is, it’s a great marketing strategy.

As creators, I think we have to be humble enough to realize that value doesn’t just come in the form of money. Time and attention are of value as well.

And we have to trust that the people who love our work will want to support what we do.

Generalist

I’m currently reading The Art of Fermentation and while on the surface it looks like a book about food and drink, it’s also a book about microbiology, which was one of my favourite areas of study in university.

It’s another reminder that different disciplines are not as separate as we think they are. This was one of the reasons that being in the structure of school was so frustrating to me.

The majority of it (even at the tertiary level) didn’t have room for natural curiosity. I was constantly told, You don’t need to know this, it’s not being tested. It won’t come out in the exams.

Although I was good at school, I didn’t enjoy it. It was just another system to crack.

Then out in the real world, I keep discovering over and over again that knowledge from all these supposedly separate disciplines are constantly colliding.

The Scientific Method is used in marketing, product development, UI/UX design. Things I learned during the coding bootcamp are used to improve non-digital workflows. The risk planning exercises that I did for science labs in university had a similar structure to the manuals and policies I wrote when I worked at a bank.

We live in a world where it’s becoming increasingly beneficial to be a generalist (with some focus). Why is the education system still churning out specialists?

100

The #100DayProject season is about to begin and this year will be my first attempt since I heard about it. While I’ve been making things throughout my life, sharing is something that I’m still learning to do. 

Some questions I have are: what should I work on? And what should I share?

In the past, I would have said write 200 words a day for 100 days. But I’m already doing that for hopefully, beyond a 100-day period. I may miss some days but the point is to try again

(Since I began on Jan 9, I’ve missed two days but by the end of this month, will have a 30-day streak. Yay!)

So, some ideas I’m toying with:

#100DaysofWhisky

Make and document one whisky cocktail every day. Starting with the classics like Old Fashioned and Rob Roy, then based on my learnings on different kinds of whiskies move towards crafting other whisky cocktails. 

The alternative, is to sketch bottles of whisky with tasting notes. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do but have put off for some time. 

#100SimSightings

Write creative captions for weird things that my Sims do. The problem I foresee with this is addiction because when it comes to The Sims 3, I have relatively low self-control. 

#100DaysSexyTime

Write short pieces of erotica based on curated photos. Erotica is something I’ve been attempting to write since I was still in uni. Perhaps it’s time I commit.

Other things on my mind are 100 botanicals or 100 ideas — for business or stories. 

But I remind myself, the point of this 100-day thing is to practice and learn, and in doing so, grow. 

So I guess the real question I need to ask myself is, “In what area of my creative life does growth matter most right now?

Are you planning to do a #100DayProject? If you are, tell me about yours!

Value

Chicken rice is one of the staple meals you could find at any hawker centre in the Klang Valley. It’s the one stall that any coffee shop worth its salt has to have. Just look for the stall with whole chickens hanging from hooks in its glass display. 

Considering how commonplace it is, it’s somewhat unexpected that people have their favourite chicken rice stalls and that it’s possible to even have a debate about which chicken rice shops are better. You’d think that any hawker could get it right. 

I have a favourite chicken rice stall. The rice is perfectly oiled and seasoned. Their chicken — no matter which part — is never dried out. Their cucumber is always crisp and fresh. But what seals the deal for me is their soup. 

All chicken rice stalls serve soup as a side but it’s typically MSG (and sometimes salt) in hot water. 

This chicken rice stall that I frequent however, serves proper chicken soup. Although the soup is clear and they don’t use many other vegetables (or even much salt) for flavour, the soup still tastes rich and heavy. 

On days when I ask, they give me free refills. 

You would think that with so many chicken carcasses lying around, every chicken rice stall would make a proper soup. It’s something that doesn’t take too much effort, yet adds value.

That’s how to make a product stand out. 

Focus

There are days when a kind of haze sets in, mostly when I’m too focused on a current task. To the point of forgetting sleep or hunger.

I’ve found that efficiency can sometimes come out of elimination. When you remove all other distractions, only laser focus is left behind.

Until a certain point. And then everything becomes hazy.

On days like these, I wonder if focus is always a good thing.

Even after reading The ONE Thing, I still think about whether having just one thing is all that.

If I had focused on writing to the point of excluding everything, I would have missed out on so many of the valuable career experiences that I’ve had.

I would have never learned how much hustle is required to run a business. I would have never explored (and fallen in love with) marketing. I would have never learned to code.

Having multiple passions has not subtracted from my writing life. In fact, it has enhanced it.

It’s given me more to be curious about, to explore, to document.

Perhaps this means that I have yet to discover my ONE thing. Or perhaps I haven’t figured out what having one thing really means.

Balance

Balance. It’s a word I keep hearing over and over again in the world of food and drink.

But while balance in the world of food requires controlling Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat (a must-watch TV show for all food lovers), drinks are a slightly different species.

A good cocktail has to have spirit. Literally, otherwise it would be just a mocktail. It has to have sweetness, sourness, bitterness. And bringing it all together is ice.

I’m not a bartender… yet. And most of the drinks I make at home are functional eg. to kill a bottle of liqueur lying around, to enliven a carton of juice, to put guests at ease.

But gone are the days when all I do is pour vodka into pink guava juice (or milk). 30ml of lime juice can go a long away in taking a drink from just okay to yum.

Although, I don’t always follow this rule. One of my favourite things to drink, especially at night before bed is a mix of 30ml amaretto, 90ml milk.

(I measure it out with a jigger. Does that make it a cocktail?)

I guess it’s also about finding that balance between making what I like, and trying to grasp the craft of making good drinks.