On Digital Story Telling #UWRF14

There’re some static aspects of writing, such as intrinsic and extrinsic elements of it. They’re so universal you can find them in any stories from ancient times to the digital age. These days, however, writers enjoy more varities of writing media and the media could be one of the most dynamic aspect in writing. It always evolves along with the advancement of civilization and technology. As bamboo paper, papyrus and lontar have turned relics of the past, we now are more accustomed to blogs and social media. These popular digital media may not change the essence of stroy telling which we may assume is as old as the human races on earth but it surely changes the way stories are told to audiences. “I don’t any platform will change story telling. The story has to be great, first and foremost. What those platforms will do only change the way we experience the
stories,”Daniel Dalton told us with confidence. He’s a British who now works as a staff writer at BuzzFeed in the UK, where he covers books, art and culture. Aside from BuzzFeed, his fiction and essays have appeared in “Cuttings”, Medium and Thought Catalog.

At The Digital Story Telling session on October 4th 2014 in Ubud Writers Readers Festival, I was sitting there to get to know what these digital authors had to say about the digital world as a channel of their literary creativity. Aside from Mr. Dalton, another speaker of the session was Angela Meyer, an Australian author based in Melbourne. She works also as an editor and literary journo. Her books are “Captives” (Inkerman & Blunt, May) and “The Great Unknown” (as editor, “Spineless Wonders”). Meanwhile, the other spaker was Elliott Bledsoe , a digital producer at Regional Arts Australia. He earns a living by working as a freelance digital producer, looking after all things that publish, play, post, tweet and trend. These three speakers were telling their own experiment with digital story telling.

Digital and print media cannot be seen as different, separate entities. They in fact are intertwined with each other, complement one another. As the digital media rise, authors can’t ignore the traditional print media. So digital media may never murder
conventional media although we have to admit that digital media definitely change how readers consume content. But still it’s much to early to claim conventional media have lost their edge completely.

Being asked on what digital platform is the best one for writers, Meyer could provide one certain answer. Rather, she answered,”Authors need to keep an eye of the kind of platform or the kind of established online journals perhaps that work for the kind of stories they want to tell.” Each of those already have its kind of audience. Maybe it takes time to find the most suitable platform to write on but eventually, as you’re experimenting with more and more digital media, you’ll find one that suits your needs and content best. Because different people often have different luck when it comes to this. Meyer recounted one of her friends published stories on his personal Facebook account, his friends like the stories a lot and all of a sudden he got a book deal out of the blue. So there’s no hard and fast rule about the best digital platform to write on. Dalton also added he experimented with Tumblr with his stories. Some of his blogs onTumblr worked but the rest just didn’t. Just experiment and you’ll find it. And listen to your instinct as a creative person.

As a digital author, we’re lucky enough to be able to unpublish or ‘recall’ the works we’ve released as soon as we find it wrong or profane or simply embarassing (though Google can still record it on their cache). Or if the works are too dear to delete, you can simply make it private or hide it from the public for your own consumption. This happens also to Meyer, who admitted she felt embarassed by her own blog posts she wrote years ago. One of them was hidden from the visitors as she thought her voice of writing at that time was far from her current idealism as a writer with a more developed voice. “I just wrote so badly… because you grow as a writer, you write all the time annd inevitably you grow, you get better and that includes like, writing tweets and stuff like that. You’re just constantly honing the way you develop your voice and your voice can be spread to all different kinds of platform.” She advised that we write on the place (digital platforms) where we feel the most connection with. “Because it speaks to you and you may also have something to offer for them (audience),”the female writer elaborated.

Still about digital platforms experiment, Dalton used John Green and his VlogBrothers campaign on YouTube as a perfect example on how an author uses online digital platforms to his advantage. From YouTube, he builds and strengthen his audience and their loyalty. He started vlogging in 2007 when no one gave it a damn. Vlogging, as Dalton put it, helped Green publish his works and build his fan base from time to time. No wonder his book sales are getting better. So that’s why writers need to actively engage in digital platforms that suits their personalty most because not all platforms work best for different authors. You have got to find one and leverage it. Authors now are challenged to go to digital world and craft their own digital story telling that could be different from the traditional methods.

On that note, Bledsoe added how digital story telling for writers on social media is seen as an advantage by publishers in Australia. The staff of this publisher told Bledsoe that they will not publish potential authors who don’t have a certain amount of following on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Dalton also told the same stories, that his friends in Sydney and London are confronted with reduction of marketing budget. “So you come to the publishers with great stories and the ability to market your stories.”

Dalton thought Tumblr is good for building fans base. He also mentioned WattPad, which is a huge digital publishing platform where people love reading fiction, so it may be good for fiction authors to market their stories there.

One thing Dalton and I were agreed on is that writers don’t have to sell hard their works. Just be genuine and interesting, that’ll be the best selling points ever. “I quickly unfollow writers who promotes his books all the time,”Dalton giggled. I do, too.

{image credit: Commons.Wikimedia.org}

Why Everyone should Love Literature

Why you must love literature


I found the quote on Elizabeth Gilbert Facebook page and it rang true to me. Studying literature would be different from studying medical skills, and it is not as grand as architecture because piles of books need a huge library an architect designs. With JK Rowling and some very few famous names, it is clear as well that being an author is not as lucrative as, let us say, a property tycoon or investment banker or big data analyst nowadays. That said, studying and, if you are good enough to pen some nice words, creating literature cannot be deemed as leisure useless non-impactful activities. To me, literature is one of the things that separate us from other primates. We are humans because we can communicate verbally, and alphabets enables the words and messages to stay intact and to get them understood by the subsequent generations. Literature is thus timeless.
How about you? Do you think literature deserves the place?

This is How Jonathan Franzen Writes #writing

Jonathan Franzen on his writing process: Tone does matter.
Jonathan Franzen on his writing process: Tone does matter.
“It is such a huge question. I mean I really literally could talk all day and barely scratch the surface…

It’s always about TONE. If the tone is not there , then there’s no writing. And to get anything done, I need tone and a sense of outline. And the outline is much easier to get to the tone. I don’t have the heart to try to make an outline until I believe there is a piece of writing to be done and the piece of writing will exist as soon as I believe there is a tone to write it in.

A piece of writing is not interesting or worth doing if there is not some personal risks, if it is not dangerous in some fashion, whether your’re exposing some part of yourself you’d rather not talk about or whether it be being sincere about something that would be much comfortable to be ironic about and vice versa. If you’re being sarcastic or ironic about something that people people take seriously.

There can be some contempt risks. You don’t want to be seen writing such a thing or literally something somewhat obscene to do for journalists. But particularly if there is some elements of psychological risks, there is a discomfort. The first thing you have to know is: “Can I find the way to write about this uncomfortable thing that will not make people uncomfortable when they read it. And that distance is always navigated by way of a piece’s tone; do you like how you sound as you write about it or do you sound like a pompous asshole? And you cannot immediately know that but as soon as you start hearing, “Oh this I could read aloud and it would not kill me and yet people might simultaneously enjoy but also be slightly uncomfortable about it. That is where I wanna be.

And as you start hearing that by reading some paragraphs that you see,”Ok, I can read the whole thing in that voice and that will be OK”. At this point it is safe to make an outline and go on.

So that’s my process.” (As transcribed from a BIG THINK interview)

How Blogging Landed Me a Job

Watching and Blogging
Blogging (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s true that blogging is my savior. I guess blogging is another channel to bring my writing to a much wider audience, which later paved my way to the job I’m having now. Here’s my story.


It’s been always my fascination to live a life as a writer. Not only as a career choice but also life path. I was still always shy to show my writing for an excuse that it was just a shameless show-off. And I didn’t feel like there was an audience out there wanting to read my writeups, with my academic mentor as exceptions. But I got sick of writing thesis. Because it was more of a chore than a calling or passion. That’s what may happen to someone who thinks that his/ her favorite pastime would be a great choice of academic pursuit. It turned out bitter. I am certain that I love English and some literary works but doesn’t necessarily mean I enjoyed having to attend philosophy or ethics classes.


At that time, I was a teacher. A lecturer working part time to be frank. Realizing I’d never gone extroverted so much, I then seriously considered writing. Writing, in my mind, seemed like the most logical career field for me. I don’t have to meet many people every single day. And that’s such a bliss.


With nothing else other than writing on my mind, I quit my part-time teaching job and started to seek any possible writing-related job vacancies. I still remember how I always would pray for my dream job in my everyday prayer. For almost 8 months, I was literally unemployed. I knew I had to get myself a job but what still came to my mind was that the new job ought to be related to writing. I can’t stand another teaching gig. I’d had more than enough in 3 years and 6 months and would be glad to move on to the next bigger thing.


While searching for the vacancies online, I also naturally looked for some space to write as well. It was way too maddening and frustrating to stay at home 24 hours a day 7 days a week with only my laptop showing rejected job applications. So one night after a few weeks of my resignation I stumbled upon a web article explaining how easy it is to earn money with a blog. Yes, I needed money! That’s exactly how I can value myself before others. You’re someone after you earn money. That’s it.


From that moment on, I started blogging. Every morning I checked on my email inbox, responded to very few responses and sent as many online job applications as possible. After these mundane daily routines, I always logged in on my blogs. It is still live up to now (akhlispurnomo.blogspot.com). I just blogged about a topic I’ve been familiar with so far: English learning.


That was how I began blogging. I was blogging relentlessly the entire 8 months. I really had nothing else to do other than blogging and doing virtual networking. It may sound funny but I knew a guy who happened to be an Internet marketer. He lives in Malaysia and  another young man whose passion is everything about digital world and entrepreneurship.


(to be continued)



Korean Modern Literature: The Diary of a Torn Nation

IMG1442As I visited South Korea in June this summer, I realized how beautiful this peninsula is. The natural landscape is one of its own, well preserved and promoted. The beaches, mountains, hills, tunnels, woods and the breezes along the way are scattered just like that but still showcase the beauty. The blend of traditional remnants and modern civilization are what anyone can see throughout the country.  It’s definitely the place I can spend forever in.

Yet, what amazes me more is how Korean folks lead their lives. I still remember what my tour guide Rose Lee told me in relatively fluent Indonesian,”We Koreans have a long and deep history of separation. Koreans have longed for the union.” Rose Lee’s father is already 80 years old now and, as she put it, his heart always sinks every time he recalls his very dear brother in North.

Rose Lee’s father is only one of millions of Koreans out there with this fervent hope of reunion. Koreans literally live with this wound. The wound is out of being taken away from their beloved or not being able to see anyone who matters so much in their life.

Perhaps this is why we can observe the subtlety and profoundness of emotions and feelings in Korean modern literary works, and even in their heart wrenching plots in popular movies and TV dramas. The past unhealed scar seems to leave them with higher sense of life appreciation. Every simple moment matters and should be appreciated in any possible ways.

Literature serves as a perfect means of chanelling those pains and capture the moments and experiences a person thinks worth sharing. Cathartic and escapist it may sound to many but these lines of sentences may in turn refine and reshape our understanding towards life and its complexity.


A Feast of Translators’ Souls at Erasmus Huis Jakarta (Photo Albums)

I was having a great time at Erasmus Huis #Jakarta , attending a celebration for translators of literary works. On stage the translators and the author of the translated work collaborated to read the original text and translation result as well as to bring the scene to life.

The long haired tall slender guy is Gustaaf Peek,an award winning author from the Netherlands,whose work titled ‘Dover’ is translated in the lit works translation workshop by the participants. And standing by his side,a blonde English lady named Kate Griffin who specializes in intl literature translated into English.

The workshop is an initial step towards an Indonesian literary translation centre,says Eliza Vitri Handayani the founder and director of InisiatifPenerjemahanSastra.org.

An interesting compilation of lit works and photos published by Lontar Foundation. Lontar is a tree whose leaves were used to write on. Lontar to Indonesia is like papyrus to Egypt. It’s what brought our ancestors to the higher civilization, historic age.

Simultaneous translation is such a pain for speakers,translators and listeners. Many distortions of meaning are found here and there unless the translators are actively involved in each and every progress of a given subject matter.

An impressive performance of a passage from Gustaaf Peek’s “Dover” by 3 female translators from Semarang. Mr. Peek himself said the depiction and translation process gave him a different fresh perspective on his own writing. He reckoned “Dover” too horrifying, and kidded “Who wants to watch such a horrifying movie?” as he explained his novel will be filmed.

The panel discussion last night: look at Arif Bagus Prasetyo, the man sitting at the right end. Isnt he an impersonator of mr @budionodarsono  (CEO and founder of Detik.com) ?

It is not a pricey wealth seminar that can bring me a great deal of money but this is something I’d really like doing even if I already have everything in life: arts and languages.


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