Today we are launching “A day in the life” series of posts and our first invited guest is the scriptwriter Kaede Loh. Welcome to a day in the life of a writer in Singapore
Usually the alarm will ring at 8 am. I wake up; check FB, Twitter, emails and even games. Those stimulation games give a sense of excitement and achievement after reaching goals. Yes, writers need to play too. About 9-ish or 10, I get ready to go out of the house. I can’t write at home with cooking, washing and talking noises from family members.I do eat out a lot as you will realise by reading this post.
On weekdays where I only start work at 3pm, I have about 4 hours to write or read. After breakfast, I will head to the library which opens at 11. During Singapore tertiary education exams, the library will be fully occupied by students. I will then settle in a café to write while drinking coffee.
I spend a lot of my writing time researching online, finding names of certain objects in the 60s, finding the right vocabulary, or even read up articles on law in certain countries… anything that my screenplay needs. After work which is about 9pm, if I’m not too tired, I will continue to write at the café. Sometimes the scene is left unwritten as I have to catch a bus or train to work. This leaves a very uneasy feeling on me as I excitedly wanted to finish that particular scene, so I have to continue my writing after work. I hardly write when I reach home after 11pm or so. I will watch a movie to refresh my mind or to get inspiration. After the movie, I’ll go to bed, but if I can’t sleep, I will think how the scenes/plots can be linked, trying to ‘watch’ the film.
During the weekends, especially on Saturdays when I dedicate the whole day to screenwriting. I will write up to 6 hours non-stop. Sometimes I have to stop for tea and some food to relax my brain.
I read screenplays of movies that have been made, trying to pick up useful expressions and observe how every scene is crafted. I read novels to strengthen my vocabularies, writing down all unknown words in a special notebook and learn them one by one. I can’t write on Sundays as I have to work in a music school from 10am-5pm. But after work if I’m not too tired, I will try to write at least one scene.
Almost everyday has the same routine, but I’m not bored by it. Every time when I read or write, I discover something new. Usually I commute about 45 minutes on train/bus and this gives me an opportunity to listen to music on my iPod which has over 900 tracks. A mixture of universal pop, classical, jazz, Latin, Tango, movies’ soundtrack, orchestral, opera, ballet, instrumental and ethnic (Japanese Samurai). Depends on the need of my screenplay, I will play the music that can give the mood/flair for example – Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.5 will give me the image of abandoned grand old castles with vampires but Astor Piazzolla’s Tango will give me the melancholy atmosphere of Argentina.
I will loop the music until I reach my destination. This is to reinforce the scenes I ‘see’ while listening to the music. The highest record of looping just one track is 300 times. Singapore is really hot and humid, can’t write outdoor at the parks or beach. You’ll sweat more than the words in your screenplay. But sometimes it’s good to take a walk as Singapore which is also known as ‘The Garden City’ offers lush greenery. Taking a walk, seeing the lush can help sooth the tired eyes.
The most prominent place is the Singapore River. Casino, hotels and shopping malls attract many tourists. By day or by night, that place is jam-packed with people, it’s good if you can spare some time sitting at a café and observe the etiquette of people at different ages. You may find interesting conversations and reactions. And if you are lucky, you may see an outdoor film set.
After an intense day of reading and writing, it’s not always I have the appetite for a full meal but if I do, Singapore’s famous chicken rice will be my reward for a hard day of work. For me, the fragrance of the rice recharges my energy.
I don’t stop there. When I reach home during weekends, I will catch my favourite Football Matches. My favorite team is sky blue, dubbed as the ‘noisy neighbors’. That’s for now, if they were to change manager or players, I may change my team. Besides football, I also watch tennis to relax. I love the fight and determination portrayed by the players – the ‘never give up’ attitude. That’s what writers need. Weekend ends, weekday starts again and my routine will keep going on and on until the day I’m on the film set myself.