Why no farmer will ever buy a tractor from Mr Lawrence Wong – The Way of the Farmer

September 24, 2012

What is the mystery Lawrence? You mean, you still can’t figure it out? Let me make it very simple for you to connect the dots. Listen up! In an age of perpetual hype and spin, authenticity sells. Phoniness on the other hand just turns people off and provokes them to tune out of the conversation.

It is really as simple as that. Why don’t you run along and pass the message upstairs – tell them all to just cultivate the art of being comfortable in their own skin. Instead of trying to engineer consent like the Truman show and not try be someone that they’re obviously not? Besides who are they trying to fool?

Start there and the rest should take care of itself very nicely. But NEVER try to shift the blame to others just because you and your motley crew can’t seem to get up to speed on how to crack the Da Vinci code to prosper online by being real and authentic. That’s just plain rude and insulting.

Like I said, it’s as simple as that. Anyone who wants to make it more complicated than what it already is – simply doesn’t know how to have a real conversation. Or for that matter sell tractors to a farmer who simply cant bear a whinner spouting happy sounding bullshit. Please try to take this constructively. As I mean. I do. Believe me.

Darkness 2012


“Read this very slowly. Don’t speed read. When I first began writing sappy toe curling love stories to save up money to buy land many years ago – I made it a point to make as little spelling and grammatical mistakes as possible. I refrained from using “too,” when I should rightly use “to.” You know that sort of thing. And one reason why I did all this was because that’s the way I have always thought about books in general. They’re all well sentenced, paragraphed and typefaced. Added to that when I first started writing love stories online. I wasn’t really confident with wordsmithing. What you need to understand is writing doesn’t come naturally to me. As deep down, I am a technical sort of man. I am good with numbers and I have a way with tools. That’s just me. But despite my best efforts at scripting perfect sentences, paragraphs and chapters. I noticed that all it did was corset my style. So naturally no one was really interested to read what I regularly churned out – the plot came out trite – the characters card boardish and scenery two dimensional. Something was missing – a certain je ne ce quoi, maybe depth or perhaps even style. Or the lack of it. In short, the crowd simply weren’t interested.

One day I just decided to write off the cuff, spelling and grammar mistakes galore. It didn’t matter to me. Not in the least. You could even say all  I was just really focussed on was getting the story out in the way a man empties his bladder. In one continuous stream with no breaks – that was when the characters in my novels acquired a reality than went beyond merely flesh, bone and muscle – they had soul.

Within a very short period of time. My readership shot up by nearly 10,000%. I had chapters opening up all over the world. And one reason was because many of those readers began to see my work as something that wasn’t really in the commercial genre – they couldn’t quite figure out where this peculiar work should fit in the larger scheme of things. It was really so odd that it couldn’t even be pigeon holed. Defined. Or even categorized. As what you have to bear in mind is e-novellas was still a relatively new genre at that time. It hadn’t really existed till then. And my work was really a prototypal experiment of sorts. Something that resembled a man writing one chapter everyday in a deserted island, snuffing it into a bottle and just throwing it out into the digital sea of infinity. But one thing can never be discounted. My writing improved. I developed my own style. I was comfortable with it in the way I am comfortable when I look at tabula data and numbers. Everyday thousands of secretaries, middle managers, policemen, high class call girls would log in and read about the adventures of the Singaporean gangster in London. Since then I have written over 36 e- books. I churned them out like Toyota motors.

But something strange happened. Since what I wrote was true to me in every sense but with really terrible grammar, spelling along with probably inverting the English language on its head. Many of my readers began to rework the stories I once wrote. This was possible as icered.com was an open platform. Some even took ownership of certain chapters to the point where they no longer even considered me as the author. Can you imagine. I, the author was baned from a thread that has set up to debate about the vapid life of Jeannie Yu and her torrid affair with the Singaporean gangster in London! The temerity. The barbed repartee. The effrontery. I remember this was slightly disconcerting at first. As its only natural for one to be possesive about one’s work. But when I began to reflect on this deeply – I realized a shift might have occured. One where the power to narrate has shifted imperceptibly from the author to reader. That’s to say reading is no longer just a passive exercise where one just vicariously experiences the intrigues of the plot.

Instead it had been inadvertently transformed into a dynamic and living thing, where the reader actually believes, he has both the right and power to take ownership of the narrative. If they didn’t believe the femme fatale should be wearing a red cheong sam as it was considered too kitsch. They just changed it. That sort of thing. So in essence when you speak about many of my e-book love stories – my work has ceased to be mine in the true sense of the word. And was instead a tabula rasa, very much like one of those blank walls where you will find alot of people scribbling all kinds of stuff on it. That to me, has to be a very exciting thing. A precious thing. As it’s not easy to get people involved in anything these days. They have grown so jaded and it’s hard to get them excited these days. Harder still these days is to build up enthuiasm in a community of readers for them to make that commitment to be not only passive readers but also stakeholders in the story. But the strange thing is when people believe (whether real or imagined is not important) they have every right to shape the speed, cadence and trajectory of the narrative. Then a sort of magic occurs. Something significant stirs. And soon its not whether you control it. But whether it will eventually control you. It’s like detonating a nuclear bomb. That’s especially true when one is writing for the thinking crowd versus the Xiaxue and Wayang Party readership cachet. Thinking folk need to be stimulated. They need food to feed their minds. And they never ever form a good opinion about those who bring them pain.

When that happens, the most difficult and wisest thing for an author to do is to simply take a back seat and watch it all go by like a speeding train. This I readily admit is easier said than done. I can recall vividly feeling an acute sense of being appropriated when all this happened – as what you need to understand is this was really my work. It may have been a mangled opus. But nonetheless, it was truly mine. That was how I saw it. And so I hated these people. I remember, even told Tim the owner of ice red.com. I was pulling out.

Tim even flew down to Singapore to persuade me to stay. As by then my love soap opera series had gone viral. One night I reflected honestly and truthfully. Then it came to me, it really had more to do with my super inflated ego cum inferiority complex than anything else. And that’s really the truth. Once I figured that part out, it was much easier to let go and just enjoy the whole experience. So this is something that is incredibly edifying – its really the moment when a man learns for the first time to be comfortable in his own skin.

Many of you who are young who may be reading this. Especially the guildsmen from the Interspacing Guild can relate to what I am saying – and I think that many bloggers can relate to this sort of positive feedback whenever they take the time and effort to wordsmith a really killer essay. This is where I feel the PAP has been slow on the up take in investing in the real and authentic. Instead what they have really done is outsource the whole idea of how to look better to some PR firm. And what we are really seeing today is a polyglot of contradictions that simply boils down to an outfit that seems to embody the form without the right content. That is why is you look very carefully at their modus operandi, it really only boils down to throwing canon balls out of a boat to move forward – they’re using so much energy, but they’re really getting a lousy return on their energy. As they haven’t really learnt the art of leveraging on the power of real and using it to good effect. That is no good. As our Northern cousins will say, “tak boleh pakai lah,” No bloody good at all.

At this point, it’s worth mentioning that if you attend one of the many read clubs (Mr dearly unfortunate) from Korean, Malaysia to Hong Kong or anywhere else in the world, where people from all walks of life come together together to discuss, splice, analyze, compare, contrast my e-novella’s in some wine bar – one of the funniest things that you will notice is no one really bothers to ask me why I wrote that chapter this or that way. They probably think, this guy can’t write for nuts – why the hell should we even ask that hack! He can’t even string a proper sentence without mangling his verbs and adjectives. So they probably reckon, he is making up the story as he writes. But most importantly, ALL of them in one way or another has bought lock, stock and barrel into the notion: We just need to help this hack write. Otherwise he will just end up making a bloody fool of himself. When that happens. Unbeknown to them, they have already made a commitment to be part of the story – it’s really something that they can truly call their own. As for me, I have no illusions. I am simply there for the ride. Probably the least important person in the room.

And that is really how it should be when a conversation has taken off in earnest. And anyone who tells you different just hasn’t learnt the art of being perfectly comfortable with in their skin. Authenticity is hard to pin down. If I was pressed to define it, then I will probably find it in one Japanese word, wabi-sabi – the idea that perfection resides in imperfection – that may at first sound like a contradiction in terms. But when you look at it from a practised eye – that is really how it is in nature. Nature isn’t neat and rowed. It’s messy. Scruffy. The stuff of  seasoned leather, the scruff of regular and frequent use, five o’clock stubble on a man, rolled up sleeves, bush jacket, well worn boots that sort of thing. That if you must know is why even today I still incorporate many spelling and grammatical mistakes in whatever I churn out.

I think if politicians just learn to write with a few spelling or grammatical mistakes in eithertheir facebook or blog entries – they will slowly get a feel about what I am talking about. They will find that their responses will have that special human touch. Instead of just coming across as contrived, deliberate and metallic.

To me it’s never a good idea to use words such as ‘calibrate’ – that is something that I would use for setting machines for crop spraying or truing my shot gun – it’s not a parlance that I would normally use in an ordinary sense – as I would prefer ‘manage’. But I guess in the age of perpetual hype and spin to say that something can be better calibrated sounds better than mismanaged. My point is to people who know words beyond the dictionary meaning that sort of officialdom speak just smacks of phoniness. It does add as much as subtract.

I guess if politicians are going to use bad grammar and spelling that itself may stirr up its own set of problems – as many will be wondering how is it possible for someone at their level to make a typo. But the way I see it, the pay outs far outweight the penalties. Asthey wouldnt have so much problems as coming across as human and even fallible.

And that is really the skeleton key that opens up the door to creating the ambience of authenticity – being human that is. Or shall we just say, being really comfortable in your own skin. Instead of trying to pretend that you’re superman and the sun comes right out of your ass. I mean in this day and age. You just have to ask yourself – whose going to buy that clap trap?”

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