Beats Apart is available in bookstores

beats-apart

Three years after being first published as a free-to-read digital writing project, Beats Apart finally found a publisher home. Kevin and I are happy to let you know that starting today, you can find the printed version of Beats Apart in both brick-and-mortar and online bookstores located all around Indonesia.

Some online bookstores that sell it are:

For those who are based outside Indonesia, kindly let us know here and we will try our best to ship a copy to you.

Here is its Goodreads page.

The Relief

I am a spiritual person, but not at all religious. I truly believe there is a Greater Power (of God – that is), but to be frank, my religious practice has been far from perfect. Nevertheless, there is a surah from the Quran that I dearly like.

“The Relief” (QS 94)
Did We not expand for you, your breast?
And We removed you from your burden
Which had weighed upon your back
And raised high for you your repute
For indeed, with hardship (will be) ease
Indeed, with hardship (will be) ease

It has made me keep on going. Whenever I had to face any kind of hardship, I always remembered that there would be ease that follows. There would be a way out, from any kind of difficulties we face.

What I might have failed to remember is that it might work the other way around, if only I had rephrased the sentence. With ease, (will be) hardship. I had received so much, so many blessings that made me happy in the recent years.. Little that I realised, I would have plenty of difficulties that followed them through as well.

I just hope I have all it takes to endure this.

The Skies Are Almost Asleep


This is an ode,

to my dear, nocturnal being

whose nature attracts me in

to all of his restless nights

of opened eyes

of enchanting tunes, of exchanged words

of fate,

and to where it has brought us

 

An ode

to my dear, thinker being

whose nature attracts me in

to all of his wandering wonders

of limitless possibilities

of terrifying bits, of corresponding feelings.

 

Of lust,

of love.

 

This is an ode to you,

my dear, nocturnal being

whom I could only see at nights

when the skies are still quite awake to see us

but too sleepy to tell what they see to anyone else.

 

Hamburg, May 4, 2015

BOOK LAUNCH: Travel Young at TOMS Grand Indonesia

 

At the end of last year, I did not only got engaged but also got the chance to launch my (long-awaited) new book, Travel YoungThe book was officially launched on 21 December 2015 in TOMS, Central Department Store, Grand Indonesia. TOMS is definitely one of my favourite brands in the world, thanks to its awesome concept that when you buy a pair of shoes, you are also giving another pair to someone in need. They were going to open their first store in Indonesia, and I was flattered that they wanted me to launch my book to “open” their store!

The book launch was a rather intimate one due to the limited space, but I was really happy because a lot of media friends came, a couple of close friends, and my partner were there to give their utmost support. :)

Travel Young is basically a travel memoir that documents my journey to a number of destinations, mainly outside Indonesia, to attend conferences or speak on behalf of young Indonesians in international forums. I shared my journey to those places, as well as my journey on growing up and embracing adulthood — a process I had never thought could be documented in writing.

Have you read Travel Young? If so, kindly let me know what you think! And if you haven’t, go grab it at the nearest book stores (including online).

Photos taken by my partner. 

#KetikaMenulis: Bernard Batubara

Di #KetikaMenulis kali ini, saya mewawancarai teman penulis yang sama-sama bernaung di bawah penerbit yang sama dengan saya, Bernard Batubara. Bara dikenal melalui karya-karya fiksinya seperti Cinta. dan Jatuh Cinta adalah Cara Terbaik untuk Bunuh Diri. Berikut adalah wawancara saya dengan Bara mengenai cara Bara menulis.

Anda telah menerbitkan sejumlah buku dan mempublikasikan sejumlah cerita pendek. Apakah ada karya yang menjadi favorit Anda?
Saya menulis puisi, cerita pendek, dan novel. Karya favorit saya adalah buku pertama saya, Angsa-Angsa Ketapang, kumpulan puisi yang terbit pada awal tahun 2010. Buku itu saya terbitkan secara mandiri (self-publishing) dengan kesadaran bahwa tidak ada penerbit major yang mau menerbitkan naskah kumpulan puisi saya. Pada waktu itu, semua penerbit major hanya menerbitkan kumpulan puisi dari penyair-penyair besar. Penyair yang tak punya nama seperti saya bisa dipastikan tak menarik perhatian mereka. Maka, saya mengumpulkan uang bulanan dari orangtua (saat itu usia saya 20 tahun, kuliah tahun ketiga) dan mencetak kumpulan puisi pertama saya, hanya 50 eksemplar. Itu pun saya bagi-bagikan gratis ke teman-teman sesama penulis muda, dan orang-orang terdekat. Setelah menerbitkan buku itu, selama sebulan saya hanya makan nasi dan mi instan.

Boleh dibilang, Anda merupakan salah satu penulis Indonesia yang cukup produktif. Kapan biasanya Anda menulis? Apakah Anda lebih senang menulis di pagi atau malam hari?
Sebenarnya sih masih banyak yang jauh lebih produktif, mereka bisa menerbitkan empat sampai lima novel dalam satu tahun. Saya, sejauh ini, paling banyak dua buku dalam setahun (kombinasi antara kumpulan cerpen dan novel). Saya menulis ketika saya ingin menulis. Untungnya, saya selalu merasa ingin menulis. Saya bisa menulis kapan saja. Pada suatu fase, saya menulis setiap bangun subuh, pukul empat sampai pukul enam pagi, sebelum berangkat kuliah. Pada fase yang lain, terutama setelah saya lulus kuliah, saya menulis siang hingga malam hari, pukul satu sampai pukul delapan atau sembilan malam. Pada fase sekarang, yakni ketika saya sudah menjadi karyawan dan memiliki jam berkantor, saya menulis setelah jam kantor usai, pukul tujuh sampai sebelas malam. Saya pernah menjadi morning person dalam waktu yang sangat lama, sebelum akhirnya kebiasaan bangun pagi itu berubah setelah saya tidak lagi kuliah. Saya sulit bangun pagi karena hampir setiap hari saya begadang untuk menulis. Kalau ada jam-jam favorit untuk menulis, mungkin malam hari, sekitar pukul delapan sampai tengah malam. Tapi, pada dasarnya, saya bisa menulis kapan saja, asalkan tidak sedang diajak bicara.

Di mana Anda sering menulis?
Saya tidak bisa menulis di tempat sepi. Saya menyukai tempat-tempat sepi, karena tempat-tempat sepi membuat saya tenang dan nyaman dengan diri saya sendiri. Namun, kalau untuk menulis, saya lebih memilih tempat-tempat yang ‘bersuara’. Saya butuh suara-suara untuk tetap sadar dan melek. Saya pernah mencoba menulis di dalam kamar, tapi seringnya malah mengantuk dan berakhir dengan ketiduran. Ternyata, saya tidak bisa menulis jika suasana di sekeliling saya terlalu hening. Keheningan membuat saya mengantuk, dan kalau mengantuk tentunya lebih enak tidur daripada menulis.

Saya menyelesaikan sebagian besar naskah novel dan cerita pendek saya di kafe. Kafe memberikan saya suara-suara, dalam kadar yang pas. Ada suara-suara orang-orang yang sedang berbicara, suara-suara mesin penyeduh kopi, suara-suara langkah-langkah kaki, semuanya membuat saya tetap sadar dan tidak mengantuk, sehingga saya bisa berpikir untuk menuliskan cerita-cerita saya. Meskipun saya membutuhkan suara-suara untuk menulis, saya tidak bisa menulis sambil mendengarkan lagu lewat earphone.

Bagaimana susunan meja kerja yang Anda miliki?
Karena saya jarang menulis di dalam kamar, saya tidak punya meja kerja. Lagipula, kamar kos-kosan saya tidak memberi ruang yang cukup untuk saya membeli meja kerja. Di rumah orangtua saya di Pontianak, saya memiliki meja kerja, tapi saya belum pernah menulis dan menyelesaikan naskah apapun di sana karena saya hanya pulang ke rumah orangtua sekali dalam setahun, setiap menjelang lebaran. Meja kerja saya adalah di manapun tempat saat saya menulis: meja bundar kecil di sudut kafe, meja di kamar hotel saat saya sedang bepergian keluar kota, meja di minimarket 24 jam. Selama ada meja, dan saya sedang ingin menulis, maka itulah meja kerja saya.

Oh, ya, biasanya saat menulis, di atas ‘meja kerja’ saya pasti ada hal-hal ini: laptop, bloknot, pulpen, novel atau kumpulan cerpen atau buku puisi, dan sebotol air mineral (berganti-ganti dengan iced lemon tea atau double shots iced shaken espresso, tergantung saat itu saya sedang ingin minum apa).

Saat merancang outline atau plot untuk novel, membuat bagan karakter, saya menulis di bloknot. Saat menulis draf puisi juga saya menggunakan pulpen dan bloknot. Saat menulis draf utuh naskah novel atau puisi yang sudah selesai ditulis di bloknot, barulah saya mengetik di laptop. Beberapa kali saya pernah menulis puisi di ponsel, saat sedang dalam perjalanan dan tidak sempat menulis di bloknot. Namun demikian, saya belum pernah menulis cerita pendek dan novel utuh di ponsel.

Apakah Anda biasa mendengarkan musik ketika sedang menulis?
Sekali-kali, saya mendengarkan musik. Meskipun sempat saya katakan sebelumnya bahwa saya sulit berkonsentrasi kalau menulis sambil mendengarkan musik. Saya mendengarkan musik, seringnya, hanya untuk membangun mood. Lagu-lagu yang saya dengarkan biasanya sesuai dengan adegan yang sedang ingin saya tulis, dan ambience yang ingin saya dapatkan di dalam adegan itu. Misal, saya sedang ingin menulis adegan yang mellow dan sedih, maka saya mendengarkan lagu-lagu mellow dan sedih. Atau, saat saya ingin menulis adegan cute dan manis, maka saya mendengarkan lagu-lagu yang bernuansa manis. Begitu pula saat saya ingin menulis adegan pertengkaran atau marah-marah, maka saya mendengarkan lagu rock, metal, atau bahkan underground (tapi ini jarang sekali, karena di cerita-cerita yang saya tulis jarang ada orang marah-marah).

Kadangkala, saya mendengarkan musik yang sesuai dengan karakter dalam novel. Draf terbaru saya, Sarif & Nur (sedang menunggu giliran penyuntingan di penerbit, direncanakan terbit tahun ini), tokohnya adalah seorang pemain biola, dan di dalam plotnya banyak lagu-lagu klasik yang muncul, maka saat menuliskan Sarif & Nur saya selalu mendengarkan lagu-lagu Brahms, Bach, dan Chopin.

Bagaimana “hari menulis” Anda biasanya berjalan?
Saya punya “hari menulis” ini jika saya sedang mengerjakan sebuah novel. Untuk cerita-cerita pendek ‘lepas’, saya menulis kapanpun saya ingin menulis, tanpa pola tertentu. Untuk puisi, karena pendek-pendek, ‘pola’nya seperti menulis cerita pendek, kapanpun saya ingin. Sebelum saya memiliki jam berkantor, saya punya “hari menulis”, dan berlangsung kira-kira seperti ini: Bangun tidur pukul sembilan, sarapan, mandi, pergi ke kafe setelah makan siang, menulis sampai petang, makan malam, lanjut menulis sampai tengah malam, pulang ke kos. Rutinitas ini berlangsung hingga draf pertama novel saya selesai.

Bisakah Anda menceritakan bagaimana proses yang biasanya Anda lalui ketika menerbitkan sebuah karya – mulai dari membuat kerangka tulisan sampai akhirnya tulisan tersebut diterbitkan?
Saya selalu membuat sinopsis dan outline sebelum menulis draf novel. Setelah sinopsis dan outline beres, saya menulis draf pertama. Proses menulis draf pertama hingga selesai biasanya memakan waktu satu hingga dua bulan (saat ini, karena kewajiban saya bertambah, durasi yang saya butuhkan untuk menyelesaikan satu naskah novel pun menjadi lebih lama, bisa empat hingga lima bulan). Setelah draf pertama selesai, saya endapkan. Proses pengendapan naskah berlangsung tiga minggu hingga satu bulan. Setelah pengendapan, saya baca ulang, dan memulai revisi mandiri (self-editing) untuk menghasilkan draf kedua. Draf kedua ini yang saya kirim ke editor. Setelah draf naskah diterima oleh editor, saya tinggal menunggu editor memulai proses penyuntingan (lama waktu menunggu tergantung kesibukan editor pada saat itu). Proses penyuntingan naskah sendiri biasanya berlangsung satu sampai dua bulan. Setelah penyuntingan, masuk ke tahap perancangan tata letak (layout) dan sampul (cover). Editor akan mengirimi contoh layout dan pilihan cover. Sebagai penulis, saya diberi hak untuk memilih layout dan cover mana yang saya inginkan untuk novel saya. Setelah semuanya beres, maka tinggal menunggu tanggal naik cetak. Seluruh proses ini berlangsung selama kurang-lebih empat sampai lima bulan.

Setelah buku naik cetak dan didistribusikan ke toko-toko buku, biasanya saya diberi jadwal talkshow, untuk bertemu pembaca dan mempromosikan buku terbaru saya. Ini adalah kesempatan untuk membuat orang-orang yang telah membaca buku saya semakin ingin membaca buku terbaru saya, dan orang-orang yang belum pernah membaca buku saya, menjadi penasaran dan ingin membaca buku saya. Bukankah salah satu tugas pengarang adalah mempengaruhi orang lain dengan tulisannya? Termasuk mempengaruhi mereka untuk membeli buku kita. Hehehe.

Saya kira, bagian terpenting dari pertanyaanmu dan penjelasan saya untuk pertanyaan ini adalah, setiap orang yang ingin menjadi penulis (published author) harus mengetahui tahapan-tahapan ini, sehingga tidak buru-buru atau cepat patah arang dan menyalahkan penerbit untuk proses yang memakan waktu lama. Terbitnya sebuah buku bukan proses yang lekas seperti memasak mi instan, kecuali kamu ingin bukumu seperti mi instan: Mungkin cepat saji dan bisa segera disantap, tapi tidak sehat dan berbahaya. Begitu pula jika ingin menjadi seorang penulis, tidak ada yang instan, semua butuh proses. Kamu akan menghadapi kesulitan yang seperti tidak ada ujungnya, kehilangan mood, memeras otak untuk mendapatkan ide dan plot yang bagus, kekeringan inspirasi, dan lain sebagainya. Jika kamu tidak tahan dengan proses ini, lebih baik kamu memelihara ikan atau burung. Sebab, sebagaimana tidak ada pelaut handal terlahir dari samudera yang tenang, tidak ada penulis besar lahir dari proses yang gampang.

The Little Traffic Light Men

I was flipping through the pages of a novel when I got recouped with that particular bookmark. A bookmark made of plastic with lenticular changing image of Ampelmännchen upon it. The uncanny word, in German, can literally be translated into “the little traffic light men”. A definition I still find rather offbeat, in a good way.

Not long ago I learned that the little traffic light men are symbols inherited from the times when Germany was split into the East and the West. Each region had different figures of Ampelmännchen. This bookmark, though, affixed the one East Germans are very proud of and keen to preserve by keeping them on their traffic lights. The kind of men who have big head, short legs, and are wearing the petit bourgeois hats.

I looked at the bookmark and remembered that it was one of the first presents he has ever given me. Bought two years ago, when he was going on a business trip in Berlin. Whichever city in the world he flies to, he always comes back with a memento for me to keep. With this bookmark sneaking through one of my belongings, now I cannot help to cherish our fondness of traveling and how it has brought us to where we are right at this moment.

I remember the years of 2010-2012. Even in those years, both of our jobs already demanded plenty of travels. Despite still only being friends, whenever one of us was going to travel, the other must have wished a “good luck” or “safe travels” to the other, at least via text. We were not that close, not at all, but the gestures somehow had always been there, as if those were what we were supposed to do to each other. Little that we knew we were going to travel to so many places together, not having to wish each other “safe travels” ever again.

Two years ago — just one week after we went on our first date, to be exact — I had to leave Jakarta to attend a conference in Vatican City for almost two weeks. We could only text each other and have video calls some time, making it felt like a trip that would have wreaked us apart. I got home just in time for my 22nd birthday, a day when he surprisingly showed up with a piece of cheesecake and candles for me to blow upon. On the contrary, the distance made us so much closer, I thought.

Nonetheless, just a few days later, I had to leave again to Shanghai to compete in an international university while he had to fly to Berlin for work. Another chance to blow the chance of being together, perhaps; turning us into nothing more than two fiddling dots located at two different parts of the world.

I was having late lunch at IKEA Shanghai with my friends when he let me know he was going to board and take off for Berlin. Just like the old days, I wished him to have good luck and safe travels. Only this time, I did it through a phone call.

“I wish I could brush a long kiss upon your forehead before I fly,” he said. All my blood, then, rushed to my cheeks, flushing them without my consent.

“I wish I could feel you brushing a long kiss upon my forehead before you fly,” I answered.

Off he went. But, apparently, the circumstances mixed time differences up and brought us even further than we used to be — something that we have gotten used to two years later now. Like today, when he and I got separated by 10 hours of time zone difference, and more than 16,000 units of kilometres.

In Berlin, he told me he really wished I were there, as he believed I would have loved the atmosphere. That I would have loved the ability to stroll around the vibrant streets of Germany. We had not officially been dating that time, but he had crafted dreams inside my mind, promising he would one day fulfil them.

As soon as he got back from Berlin, we knew we were going to sail the seas together.

A couple of years later now, things start to make more sense. One by one, they fell right into place — the places where we wished those things would fall into.

Here I am, sitting in the same land where he bought this Ampelmännchen bookmark, oveywroughtingly waiting for us to reunite. To travel the world side by side.

But for now, be my guest, Ampelmännchen.

Photo: Ampelmann.de

Engagement of #AditAlanda

To sum 2014 in one word, I would choose the word commitments. A word that to some people might sound scary, but could be exciting for the rest. For me, it was not a walk in the park, but it made me learn many things about growing up and adulthood.

The beginning of the year was marked by the establishment of a home business with my best friends, Amame Ice Cream Therapy. It was not a smooth year for us, I can guarantee, but all of us got to learn so many things in the span of 12 months  (especially about making ice creams :D).

At work, I began the year by being assigned into a role that I very much was very interested in. Today, a year later, I am still in the same role, being grateful that I have rolled out brand activations that brought exciting results.

In terms of love life, 2014 gave us a roller coaster ride. It was a rather stable journey for me career-wise, but for my partner, it was the year for him to chase his dreams. It turned out that chasing dreams could come in a package full not only of passion, but also meltdowns and heartbreaks. (By the end of the year, he finally got to achieve his dream, though).

Little that I know that one week after my book Travel Young was launched, he was going to propose.

It was a Saturday, December 27. Because our relationship anniversary falls on the 27th of April, on the date of 27 every month, we always spare our time to hang out, may it be to go to the movies, enjoy some street food, or go DVD-shopping. That day, we went to get our hair cut, then he took me to my favourite restaurant in Darmawangsa.

We talked about so many things over dinner. When our plates were finished, he held my hand, gave a “review” about our relationship in the past one and a half year… The things he liked, and the things he hope us would never have to go through again. At the end of his, sort of speech, he suddenly popped the question.

I was surprised because I had not guessed it would have happened this fast, especially knowing the fact that one week later he was going to fly to Melbourne to pursue his Masters degree for two years. But there he was, asking me if I want to marry him or not, having prepared everything for us to have an engagement ceremony before he leaves.

And, predictably, I said yes. :)

We drove home afterwards and he brought himself to meet my parents and ask them about his intention on asking my hand in marriage, as well as his family’s plan to come on the following Tuesday to formally propose to my family. I was not sure if it would be possible for us to organise an engagement ceremony in such a short notice, nor my parents! However, that did not stop us from pursuing the plan.

Upon hearing the news, my extended family and friends were very surprised, but at the same time excited, knowing that my partner has proposed.  They were really keen on helping out.

DSCF7641 copy

We made it happen.

Our engagement ceremony was held on Tuesday, 30 December, quite modestly. My aunts lent me their kebaya (which magically fits), kain, and accessories. I went to a salon in my neighbourhood to do my hair, and my best friend put my make up on. Because it was going to be an intimate reception, no catering vendor agreed to serve the food of my choice for only 50 pax. So we ordered Soto Kudus Kauman for dinner, and the guests loved it!

It was nothing like what you see on wedding websites – or perhaps Pinterest! – but for me it still felt really special, which made myself sure that the commitment my partner and I made mattered much more than any kind of ceremony.

DSCF7675 copy DSCF7678 copy

I’m grateful that we could make it happen this far, and I’m very excited about what’s coming our way, for me and Adit. Wish us luck.

I hope all of us would have a wonderful 2015! :)

 

A Quarter-Life Crisis, Perhaps

I have refrained myself from labeling this as a quarter-life crisis not only because I am still two years short, but also in the wake of my disbelief to such sights. I had always believed that things like pre-menstrual syndromes are simply excuses made up by men who did not want to compromise to their women in arguments, as much as quarter-life crises are made up by young adults who cannot figure out what they want to do in their life.

In spite of that, I had come into realisation that a quarter-life crisis is perhaps what I am going through at the moment – or perhaps not.

Last year, I graduated from the university and signed off to become a full-time employee in a giant multinational company based in Jakarta. A lot of people asked me why I took the decision, which seemed strange to them. “I had always thought you were going to work in the UN or an NGO!” is something I had gotten used to hearing every single day in my first months of being employed, at least from the mouths of youngsters who are stuck in the same circles with mine. To be frank, the job that I possess is a job that could be enviable to some, not to mention the company I work for is a company that I really admire. However, I still could not keep that question from being thrown onto my face. Maybe because people already have expectations on what I should do in life.

I basically took the decision to work full-time because I have seen too many young ‘activists‘ or self-proclaimed pseudo-entrepreneurs trying to change the world without having a sense of reality and what really happens on the ground. I wanted to know how it would feel like to meet people in remote areas, to witness how they maintain a certain perspective towards current issues, and how they run their lives. I also practically had never been led by someone else, let alone having a boss. I thought that would have been an essential experience to be possessed, also to prevent myself from turning into a Ms. Know-It-All.

Long story short, I have managed working in a company for over a year now, something I had never thought I would ever successfully go through. Now here comes the trouble. By this point, most of my friends from certain circles have already graduated, or at least, signed up for graduate school. Other have started award-winning entrepreneurial pursuits, or successfully soared as talented ‘self-employed’ artists, writers, or film-makers. Yet, here I am, working in a company on a 9-to-6 job (no, it’s not an 8-to-5). Yearning for my pay day to come sooner, or for a day to run more quickly.

Sometimes it makes me ask myself, “What have I been doing in the past one year?”

It’s something that I constantly talk about to my significant other, someone whom I seek to console myself with. He has always been a hard worker, one of his qualities that makes look up to him. He’s started working part-time in high school to do the same thing until he’s finished university, to earn money to pay for his living costs and tuition fees. He then worked on two jobs simultaneously for a couple of years. Quoting on what he often says to me, “Be grateful of the job you have. I used to come home at 3 am only to find myself working again 4 to 5 hours later, to make ends meet.”

This evening, I re-told him the same story, that sometimes I feel like I have not been doing much, I have not been doing great things for my future like what my friends are doing. I have not been contributing to the country as much as I could, and as much as I should. I haven’t been…

This is what he told me,

“I think what you are doing: creating activations at work, writing books, selling ice creams, have tangible results. I could see you doing it. It is not something that could be gone through the thin air. It is not something conceptual anymore. I think, by doing so, you have been creating an impact in people’s lives, an impact that could be witnessed, which is not something that many people could do these days.”

And that got me thinking.

In IYC, we have always believed on the principle that anyone, any young person, should be able to positively contribute towards the development of Indonesia through his/her passion and interests — no matter what they might be. That the contribution should not be limited to activities in the field of politics and education, but also creative industry and economy. That whatever you like to do could be transformed into something useful for the community, only if you know how to do it, and how to see it.

I could not believe that I, myself, could forget to apply this principle in my own life. I have not done much, yes, but I could keep on pursuing anytime I wish to. Perhaps the way could be different with how my friends are doing it. Perhaps I do not go to Ivy League schools, or volunteer in political campaigns, but it can never mean that I am not allowed to go my own ways in creating my own version of “contribution” towards the betterment of Indonesia, can it?

But hey, perhaps this is just one of a useless ramblings of a recently-legal girl having both quarter-life crisis and pre-menstrual syndrome at the same time.

Or perhaps not.