Etched with poems of a heartbreaking, toxic past, Chloe then brings her readers into a new light of self-healing through her latest book.

Writer Chloe Ling embarked on a journey and takes on the challenges of self-publishing and curating her own book, ‘Cartography: Poems, Stars and Stories’. The Sarawakian lass admits that she had gone through hoops and a process of self-discovery in the journey to create something tangible from her art and past experiences.

Dissecting an emotion

It was the perfect time for Sarawakian writer Chloe Ling to publish her first book. Etched with poems of a heartbreaking and toxic past, Chloe managed to bring readers into a new light of self-healing through her book ‘Cartography: Poems, Stars and Stories’.

“While publishing a book can be challenging, I wanted to create something tangible out of my art and experiences,” said the 27-year-old. “I have always wanted to do something related to life’s journey and navigation. I kept writing and over the years, my materials started to build up and in the end, it manifested into a book,” added Chloe.

The lady hailing from Kuching gave herself a six-month timeframe to publish her book as she was going to start working a full-time job December last year. She devoted the months before to juggle between part-time jobs and curating her book.

“I like stories and I like poetry, but there are actually different elements about these two,” Chloe explained. In her book, readers are taken on a seven-chapter journey, where she incorporates both elements of writing based on her real experiences.

Who is Chloe Ling?

Throughout curating her book, Chloe admit there are times when negative dialogues overwhelmed her thoughts, and that she could not continue writing any more. “I learned to turned off these negative thoughts and cultivate a safe space in my head.”

A storyteller, poet, dancer, and now a teacher of drama and history, Chloe once aspired to be a psychologist. “But I shifted to performing arts because I realised I needed an environment that was high in energy.”

It was in 2017 when she discovered Wordsmiths of Kuching (WOK), a local community nurturing creative minds in storytelling and poetry. “It was in my final year of studies when I attended WOK for the first time. I felt very comfortable with the people, and they were always very welcoming.”

Poetry was never in her mind and Chloe described herself being more of a storyteller than a poet, given her avid love for books. “I enjoyed reading since I was young. But as I grew older, I read less but I am still attracted to anything related to storytelling.”

“When I started to attend WOK, the group gave me a ‘safe space’ to start a new passion. And that was how I got myself into poetry,” Chloe said.

In the same year, Chloe also shared that she was going through an emotional state in life and was looking to express herself through writing.

When asked why she chose poetry, Chloe answered, “Because I think poetry is like concentrated emotions. It is like you take an emotion, break it apart, just to observe it. It’s almost like you’re dissecting an emotion. It sounds very mechanical but it’s true.”

Chloe said that the whole idea behind ‘Cartography: Poems, Stars and Stories’ is that the book is a metaphor where “the emotions lead us to what we believe in life, and they show us what our values are.”

The book

The author, Chloe (right) posing a photo with her family members during her book launch event at Kuala Lumpur.

Chloe admitted that she went through several challenges when she started curating for the title. “I always have a lot of negative inner monologues in my head everytime I create a poem. There’s always a voice in my head saying that it is not good enough. Because of that, I sometimes get writer’s block and could not continue any more,” Chloe explained.

The process as a whole had changed her as a person and taught her many experiences that she describes as ‘enlightening’.

“I allowed myself to experiment with my thoughts and that involves turning off the negative voices and cultivating a safe space in my head.”

Apart from that, she also went through numerous practical challenges as the book was her first experience in everything. She disclosed that she chose to self-publish because it was the only option that fits her budget.

The book.

“But the problem was I did not know anything about publishing a book. I ran through various roadblocks, and even had a hard time finding the right printing company,” said Chloe.

She also revealed that she nearly missed the launch date as the company could not release her book on time. “And since I was doing my own design, I had to learn to use InDesign within three days!”

Nonetheless,a silver lining emerged in the potholes that she came across during the six months. From the process, she learned that “sometimes, an unfinished work is more complete.”

“Initially I had a different idea for this book. I noticed that in three months, the more things I put in, the more it changed into a different animal,” but for this, she learned to accept it because changes are inevitable. “Despite straying from the initial idea, the message that I wanted to convey remains intact and is still there.”

The book also taught her that friends are very important. “Having good friends and a strong support system got me through it all. And I am glad for that.”

For those who are interested to get their hands on “Cartography: Poems, Stars and Stories”, the title is available nationwide at local bookstores such as MPH, Popular and Gerak Budaya.