It is Thanksgiving as I write this, and I would like to give thanks to the ironies in life.
Sitting right in front of me is a book called Madonnas and Mavericks by “renowned” Singapore author, Loretta Chen. When I read the introduction, my heart skipped a beat. I had seen this concept and format before. As I browse through the book, I felt as if I was ghosting through my very own book “Extraordinary Women – Singapore” which was published in 2015. The author and her sister-in-law, a Mediacorp actress, were in fact, both interviewees for my book, and I had previously shared my concept with Marshall Cavendish (the publisher of Madonnas and Mavericks), who rejected it. Who says ironies are only in bestsellers?
For anyone who knows me, I am akin to a hermit, I love my privacy and I am an introvert by nature. I trust too easily and I am inclined to believe that everyone has a good nature, a good heart and should be given that benefit of doubt. However, on a few occasions, people whom I thought I could trust and were “my friends” spoke poorly of me behind my back. I thought I had made a “friend” but was instead betrayed by the very one who inserted the knife into my back. Someone said, “Your best friend is your worst enemy”. I scoffed at the saying but am now engulfed into the very meaning of it. An enemy would more likely take an original idea from you, spin it into his own, and benefit lucratively from it, than a friend – or so I thought.
I don’t blame anyone here. I do, however, ask myself the question of the mentality and the morality of a PhD holder and someone whom I thought was a friend to speak so poorly of me behind my back, calling me names after depriving me the whole benefits of my very own creation. I had concocted an original story line which was supposed to be my proposed thesis for Women Studies in Sociology with NUS though I did not manage to attend the Masters course as I have 2 young boys and a full-time job which requires my attention.
Why did I mention PhD here? I was informed that my now ex-friend is a PhD holder who would not take my idea. She further added,” I was commissioned by Marshall Cavendish to write the book, Madonna and Mavericks.” I wrote to Marshall Cavendish and they honestly told me that she submitted the book project. When I asked her if this was true, my dear friend got defensive, and blabbered gibberish, which had nothing to do with the book in question, in her emails. I question the depth and professionalism or lack of. As I kept my peace, I came to hear that I was being named a “sad psycho”. Come to think of it, I probably am since I befriended someone like her.
Yes, I was inspired by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and though Loretta wrote on Page 9 of her introduction that some of her women interviewees challenged the idea of “Lean In” and having it all, this frenzy created by the idea of “Lean In” had inspired a lot of writing by female authors. I am not sure if someone might deny that her own book was not inspired by the concept of “Lean In” and that women in society still have a long way to go, my opinion is that both books used the fundamental concept of “Lean In” which Sheryl Sanberg crafted and created. You do not need to have it all, but what we sincerely hope for is that more women will be more inspired to take a more active role in the society and in the workplace today.
If someone is so barren of ideas, originality or creativity and needed inspiration from someone else’s creation, would it be hurtful or embarrassing to just ask? I would have been delighted to help a friend to endorse and support the idea. During an interview with Painless.asia, Loretta talks about the 3Ps – Positionality, Perspective and Personal Self Reflexivity. But wait, does she practise what she preaches, or is she just covering her own “arse” (don’t mean to swear but this is just too painful to write) by giving an interview to Painless.asia because she knows that once she published her new book, Madonnas and Mavericks, the real truth would emerge that “she is merely a thief who not only steals ideas, she is barren of originality”. I have not done anything to hurt her and I even wanted to protect her by keeping my mouth utterly shut! However, she not only slandered me, she committed the mortal sin of greed which would potentially tarnish her own image in Singapore as a credible author. Well, what was I thinking when I featured her in my own book published in 2015???!!! I wish I could tear out that chapter as now I am feeling the extreme agony of a jab and a stab but fortunately my wounds are soothed by the support of my wonderful family.
In reality, I empathize with those who needed to take ride on someone’s idea and packaged it as their own. I thought an artist would be more creative and original with their ideas. I was in the Science Faculty most of my life and I spent the best part of 17 years working professionally in a different industry so I wouldn’t know much about art or theatre. But I bet each play, each musical and each ballet performance requires creativity, originality, ingenuity, talent and vision by every individual involved. No one can, or should, take that away from the individual.
I hold my head up high because I conceptualized my own book from start to finish on my own. My book, in my own right, was authentic, original and genuine at the time it was published. I am truly grateful to the power women who accepted my interviews, talked to me and opened their hearts to me so that I could write a decent book, hoping to inspire more women in our society. I confess that I do not have a doctorate to embellish my book, but it is true to the accounts of each and every Extraordinary Woman. And perhaps, deep in my consoling heart, I want to believe that I had, in one way or another, humbly inspired Madonnas and Mavericks. Or perhaps I don’t want to.
For all the power women in Madonnas and Mavericks, you are all high-achievers in your own right and your contribution to our society means so much to the women of this country. You are excellent examples and your stories will bring a lot encouragement and inspiration to the women of our society. This message is a self-review of part of my life and my relationship with the author of the book. It has no bearings or connection with the interviews which she had conducted.
I am thankful that life has given me 2 beautiful boys and a happy family which is what I always yearn for. I hope that Loretta will find absolute peace and tranquility this Christmas, ponder over what she has done and give thanks to life which has treated her so well. I am sure she is brilliant in her own ways just not as creative or original. I hope the best for her and her family this Christmas.
#ExtraordinaryWomen #ExtraordinaryWomenSingapore #PowerWomen #PowerWomenSingapore #LeanIn @SherylSandberg @LorettaChen
Note: This article is a personal entry to a journal and it is in no way connected to this publication or the publisher. Read it at your own leisure and for your own reference.