The Book Is Born

It’s been a most exciting (exhausting) month! Praise be to God!

My book, A Clean Breast, has finally been published, hallelujah. What started as a book outline in July 2011 has finally been born—and I can see why Singaporean writers struggle! Given our fast-paced lives, writing a book is both an exercise and an art, and above all, a marathon that brings out our discipline and “tong” power (as my friend Lawrence Yeo calls it), or lack thereof!

I am grateful to God, my ever-present help in time of need; my husband, who endured nights of my chair scraping and rocking on our floor as I grumpily forced myself to type out chapters that I would later declare “LAME! USELESS! REWRITE!” Mr Threez also wrote the best chapter in the whole book. My kids, Big and Middle B, who gamely let me interview them for their contributions.

I’m thankful for all the kind voices that gave it their reviews: Mdm Halimah Yacob whom I met at the Singapore Woman Award, such a humble and unassuming woman with big brains! Mayor Amy Khor, my mayor, who always writes so beautifully and from the heart. Laura Hwang, who says Mr Threez’s chapter made her cry. Flo Lian, my former colleauge and head of MediaCorp Radio, whose time, I know, is so very precious. My doctors, co-authors, ex-boss…all the amazing people in my life who actually took time to read this book!

I know God sent my publisher Chin Kar of Write Editions into my life for such a time as this. We have known each other for a number of years, through many different portfolios, but it is this author-publisher arrangement that has brought out the best in both of us (or rather, the best in him and the most challenging in me!)

But through thick, thin, serif and san serif, we finally completed this work.

A Clean Breast, which covers my journey through cancer—some of which you have read here, and much of which you haven’t—launches this Wednesday at a private event, and will be in all major bookstores by early December.

Retail price is $20. You can buy it at Kinokuniya or you can buy it by mail here. More details soon!

Thank you for your support and encouragement, and most of all for the inspiration. The book was birthed out of the blog, and the blog exists because of you.

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The Reason For The Long Silence: MY BOOK IS DONE!

My proof-reading copy of the manuscript. No this is NOT the cover!


I had the idea to write a book about my cancer experience about a year and a half ago when it struck me that getting so many people emailing me to ask all sorts of questions about breast cancer was a sign that there wasn’t enough information (or easily-found information) out there on what I had experienced.

I thought it would take me, oh, maybe three months to complete it. After all I am a professional writer and editor so what’s a three month deadline?

Three months turned into 18.

My poor publisher Chin Kar waited a long time for this manuscript. When I finally delivered the first (extremely choppy and unpolished) version in April this year, I think the poor man got a rude shock. Very gently, he broke the news to me that there was no way he was going to publish that, and that I simply had to rewrite “some parts”.

“Some parts” turned into 75% of the book.

It was a struggle, but I basically started all over again in May. I ripped apart what I had previously written, took into serious account what Chin Kar had wisely advised me to change, rewrote parts, wrote new ones, and what was meant to be a 10-chapter book turned out to be 37 chapters long, divided into three parts.

There were moments I wanted to give up. It was just too hard, and when it comes to writing, I am easily discouraged. If something isn’t “coming together” quickly enough, I begin to think, “It’s not meant to be.”

I can’t go into details about how I decided to carry on, but I will share that one day, after praying, I wrote myself this note on a yellow Post-It and stuck it in front of my desk to remind myself why I was putting myself through such agony.

That note kicked my butt every day. And every day (or as many days in a week as I could squeeze time out of) I wrote.

Finally, the day came. I finished my manuscript. I sent it off to Chin Kar, who read it in one day and sent back his corrections that same day. Awesome feat. He is a very dedicated publisher, and I am blessed.

Next I had to invite people I respected and liked to “endorse” my book. I hate the word “endorsement”, it makes me think of some poor TV actress holding a bottle of sugary drink in a poster, claiming that she loves it (when clearly, she wouldn’t touch that stuff if you fed it to her through a 24-carat gold straw).

So I worded my requests very carefully, and so far, all of them have said yes.

As I write this now, I am awaiting the final few. Some of them have made me cry.

Pretty pink cover makeup by Charmaine. How to not love someone who makes you look younger and fresher?

Today I had a fun day doing the shoot for my book cover. I can’t give away what it’s going to look like, you’ll see it soon enough. But I can show you what my makeup looked like—I do love it, I look pretty and modern and maybe 5 years younger!

Next, comes the full manuscript with all the forewords and backwords and cover, and then it’s off to print.

We’re scheduled for a November release. Stay tuned!

PS Today, 4 October, is my late mother’s birthday. She would have been 73 today. Thinking of you with a heart full of love, Mom!