LITERATURE IS ART, NOT AN EXAM
21 Nov 2018 // Filed under Articles
By Ip Oi Kei
Diploma in Creative Writing for TV and New Media
Colin Cheong, who teaches at the School of the Arts (SOTA), says writing should be for fun and not for the money. (Photo Credit: Ip Oi Kei)
Colin Cheong, 53, is an award-winning author and a Literature teacher but surprisingly, he feels that learning Literature should not be made compulsory in school. Nor should it be an examinable subject, he says.
“Literature is an art form. It’s no different from music; it’s no different from film, no different from theatre. It requires special skills to sit down and read it, and of course, you have to like it!”
A Natural Born Writer
His own love for the written word began when he was just 7.
“Writing was always something fun to do,” Colin recalls, “It was a hobby.”
It was during his Secondary 4 days when he first started writing the pages of what would later be his first novel, The Stolen Child, which was published in 1989. He continued writing novels that would later win him the Singapore Literature Prize and establish him as one of Singapore’s prominent writers.
However, the path to becoming a Literature teacher wasn’t as conventional as one would expect from someone whose parents were English teachers. Colin decided to be an educator after being turned down for the position of a Fire Rescue Officer at the SCDF due to an old injury he sustained from National Service.
Despite his passion for the craft, being a full-time writer was something that just didn’t sit well with him. After writing for corporations and freelancing, he came to realise that doing it professionally was a mistake. He disliked writing what people told him to. When he regained the freedom over his content, he says, writing became fun again.
Support for Young Writers
As an author and Literature teacher, Colin has been keeping tabs on the local literary scene and feels that it is thriving.
“Everybody has been really working very hard to advance the writing community and it’s just great. It has really grown a lot, thanks to all the work that’s been put in.”
And with the level of support given by the National Arts Council, Colin believes that now is a really good time for young writers to showcase their potential.
“It’s a better time than any other time in history” he says.