My first book was an ABC book of English with phrases like "A is for Apple"; "B is for Boy"; and "C is for Cat".
But here I am not talking about the first book I read. Some of you may know that I have been writing a children's book. Its title is quite a mouthful - "Horse-powered & Man-powered Transport: a philatelic excursion." (More about the contents of the book in a later post.) It is my maiden book and it has just been published. I am now officially an author. Yeah!
Actually, I really should not be claiming all the credit because the book has 2 other very distinguished co-authors - Dr Tan Wee Kiat
and Noel. Dr Tan (not to be mistaken with his namesake who is the CEO of National Parks Board) is a stamp enthusiast, a veteran author and a retired NIE lecturer, all rolled into one. Of course, he is a very good husband, father, grandfather and babysitter to his grandchildren as well. He has written several children's books
based on stamps. As for Noel, I think I better let him introduce himself since I do not know enough of him to do him justice.
I have never imagined in my life that I would write a book, least of all when I am over 50 years' old. So how did it all start and what motivated me to do it?
It started on 25 Nov 2006, the day when Chun See
gave a talk on blogging for seniors
. When the talk ended, Wee Kiat, who also attended the talk, approached me and broached the subject of co-authoring a children's book with him. Frankly, I felt both honoured as well as apprehensive at the same time.
I asked Wee Kiat, "I feel very honoured but I have never written a book before. Do you think that I am up to the mark?"
fatherly Wee Kiat was very reassuring, "I've read your blog before and you write quite well. Moreover, I heard you mentioning that you wanted to blog about the trolley bus of yesteryear. So why not write a book instead? I can search for all the relevant stamps to be used as illustrations. I would like my books to have a new perspective. A blogger's perspective would be nice. Then the books will not always have my same old style and angle which can become kind of stale after a while. Besides stamps, we can include photos as illustrations as well."
Wee Kiat further explained that when writing a children's book, we should keep our language simple. We should also include lots of colourful illustrations to keep the book interesting. Children have short attention spans and if the first few pages of the book cannot hold their attention, they would not read on.
Writing a children's book is just like writing a blog post. Some of Wee Kiat's previous books have only about 20 odd pages with each page containing only 2 or 3 sentences. A few of my longer blog posts could possibly have more words than some of his books.
Yet, I was still not very sure so I asked, "Is it a lot of work?"
Wee Kiat replied, "Sure it is a lot of work. But then, it is also a lot of fun.
Wee Kiat's motive in writing children's books is to share knowledge and not to make money. In fact, he told me that he had to "come out money from his own pocket" for most of his previous books. Not because there were no sponsors for his books, but it was mainly because he gave a lot of complimentary copies to his friends, relatives, ex-colleagues, libraries and other organisations.
Shucks, and I thought I could become rich and famous. Now, I can only hope to be famous.
Wee Kiat taught education psychology when he was in NIE.
No wonder he is so good at convincing people.
He finally talked me into living up to the title of my blog, i.e. Taking Up The Challenge. So it was not so much "what
" motivated me to write the book but rather, "who
" - Wee Kiat, of course. I cautioned him that I have a lot to learn and he would need to be very patient with me.
(As the famous Cantonese storyteller, the late Lei Dai Soh
would say, "So what happened then? Tune in at the same time, on the same day, on the same