On Becoming A Writer: Gina Gallyot

An important part of every writer’s journey is the transition from seeing ourselves as “someone who writes” to seeing ourselves as writers.  We asked all the Go Dog Go Baristas to tell us a little bit about their journey as a writer.  We hope you enjoy learning more about the Baristas and are inspired by their stories.



When you did you start writing?

I have always been a scribbler and wrote lots of little stories in high school, was even school magazine Editor in my final year in high school. I moved a lot and lost my notebooks and now trying to recall some of those long lost stories. I write for my professional journals and editorials and am on a list of published authors for my profession in Malaysia. But I don’t really consider that “writing”! My eldest daughter encouraged me to start blogging in 2016 and I played around with writing different themes and topics, finally finding my passion for flash fiction and then for poetry. That’s when I felt like I was writing what really mattered to me. The Daily Prompts in WordPress gave birth to some memorable articles that I wrote inspired by just one word. I’d encourage new and young writers to try this and you will be exposed to a lot of feedback and make lovely new friends.

What kind of writing do you do?

I enjoy writing short stories the most but have fell behind after a personal crisis mid last year and so resorted to keeping my blog active by doing short book reviews and sharing songs and quotes that meant something to me. I am now writing a weekly post of my thoughts for 2018 based on prompts my friend sent me for a span of 52 weeks. I don’t think I will ever limit myself to a certain “type” of writing; I like to be challenged and also have a comfortable space to unleash my creativity and thoughts. I started writing poetry only in 2016 and found I had another avenue of expression. My favourite type of writing are the haibun, it’s tight and challenges me to be precise in short paragraphs. As for poetry I love composing an Ottava Rima as I find it the most challenging but I love the rhyming meter of this poetic form.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

My walks, my ordinary life, and the books I read and the movies I watch. Also from the relationships I have and have lost. My inspiration for stories comes from remembering my childhood. I think I write the best about the memories I have growing up and also of my time working and living abroad.

What are you current writing rituals/practices? 

I used to write every day and that was good for that time but then I sacrificed my reading time and also social interaction time. I felt disconnected from the real world. Now I write in the mornings in my journal and that’s a record of how I am feeling and the things I want to write more on later. I am setting aside time twice a week to sort my short stories out. I also write articles for a local magazine and get paid every month based on the number of articles I submit and are selected. I usually want to submit at least one a month. The topics for the magazine are given to me a month in advance so lots of time to decide what to write. Working full time, almost 10 hour days and being a single mum makes setting aside time very difficult but I try to manage time as best I can.

When did you start thinking of yourself as a writer?

I am not sure I ever have until my e-book was published and was discussed at my hometown poetry club and book club. I still don’t really call myself a writer as I feel I have so much more to learn and develop. I just love words and hope the words love me back! I write because I need to.

What are your future writing goals?

  1. to continue submitting to the local magazines here
  2. to attend poetry readings and literary fests for inspiration
  3. to set aside focused time to write new stuff
  4. to set aside time to get my written work in order to publish a book

“Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.”

–John Green

Poetry inspired by Davy and Emily D


sunrise over Malaysia’s central mountain range, I woke up early one holiday morning and caught this

I am writing a series of thoughts for 2018 each week I have a new prompt. When I wrote this week’s I saw a poem form. Here it is. If you’d like to read the full story you can here.

I have a small house and it is my sanctuary
I also feel at home under a big tree
feeling loved by the gentle breeze
and rustling leaves.

But I am safest when I am honest with myself,
That’s truly being home with me.

We wander aimlessly looking for attention
and affirmation
from the world around us
yet only end up with second hand consolation

Meet with yourself,
especially at that lonely midnight hour,
when there’s no one to reach out to
or talk to,

reach deep within yourself
and encounter you.
Sometimes it may be
a very terrifying figure you might encounter,

almost ghost like because you neglected you
in search of another person or object to comfort you
You are the home you build with the raw energy
and inner power you possess infinitely.

I am home even when I alone, for I am not lonely,
I am safe in the arms of my own balanced psyche.

inside of me are chambers and apartments
that are locked away
and some open for public view,
I shut and open doors and windows
not in random order
but with a subconscious nature
asking to be understood.

But I can only be understood
if I am not afraid of myself,
and what I see inside of me.

I surprised myself the most
when I met my true self,
inside this host.

This post is partly inspired by Davy, a respected Barista here at Go Dog Go Treetop Cafe and his “Poetic Beats”; do listen to his reading and discourse on John Clear’s – “the Old Year’s Gone Away and by Emily Dickinson’s “One need not be a chamber to be haunted”

my view


my view on the light rail transit one evening and inspired these thoughts

The elusive horizon
challenged the sun
“chase your shadow”
And the train tracks carried away all her sorrow

With a sideways view
She fell through
“it’s leaving the page”
And her thoughts became actors on the stage

Tesla’s pride would have been evident
She burned electric blue like his current

a tiny snowflake


I walked into the city one cold windy day and saw a man in gray
He had an umbrella made of steel with fine lines on display
I had seen that kind of umbrella once before
Described in a story I read while sitting on the floor

I love the bright lights of the city against the icy wetness of the rain
The splash of the puddles on my feet and against the glass window panes
Reminds me of a little lost bear looking for home
And someone took him to a place where he would not be alone

The loud sounds of the city gets muffled by the night
And sometimes snowflakes on their downward flight
Absorb the sounds and even some smells so well
You feel like you are walking through an empty air well

It was in a windy city on the banks of a famous lake
That I saw and caught my first tiny snowflake
I let it rest on the sleeve of my dark brown coat
As I watched a thousand others descend and float

Guest Barista Eric Syrdal: Triumph…

Jerusalem, Babylon, Damascus
another parade
passing under the city gate arch
the sun blotted out by ancient stones
here long before our sandaled feet
trod the dust of a thousand battles
into the air
phalanx shields and glittering spear tips
drums and raucous horns
welcome the conquerors
to this place of trophies
fine fabrics and spiced meats
will be the rewards of the day
but I’ve not his name
and men will liken themselves to him
long after the greek temples have fallen
ambition lies at the feet of a broken empire
Macedonia has reached her long arms
to the edge of civilization
and draws back into her bosom
the fruits of her brutality
and here I remain
my body still tired of the saddle
how many times will I ride through
a rainstorm of rose petals?
how many laurels shall be placed upon my head?
how many times shall I be offered
all that glory demands?
yet all I wish for
is to see the way the oil lamp
bends the shadows around a woman’s face
like adoring lovers
they kiss her beautiful eyes
I want to die in her embrace
no soldier’s death for me
my sword will not be my end

Eric Syrdal is an independent poet/author. He’s an avid gamer and Sci-Fi enthusiast. He enjoys reading science fiction and fantasy literature and spends a great deal of his writing time focused in those genres. He is from New Orleans, Louisiana, where he lives with wife and two children.  You can read more Eric’s writing at My Sword and Shield….

a poem – I stood next to my conscience


I wrote a few lines pf poetry during a very moving Sunday Service last weekend. Bob Kilpatrick was our preacher that morning, Ministry through music moves me, lifts me to a different level of consciousness. I was blessed to get signed copies of his two books. So I posted it on Instagram together with some photos I took from the day I had. I read Vanessa’s poem “breath” this morning and saw in her words an accumulation of life’s prompts that I seldom take heed of.

So I tweaked the poem a little, different now from the Instagram post and maybe this portrays December in our hearts the best. A season of hope coming to fruition.

Linking this to saynotoclowns for inspiring a re-write.

I stood next to my conscience
looking over my shoulder
my head reasoned over my heart
the longing has finally ended

I lowered my hands
yet lifted my voice in hope
a new understanding
of waiting

November Poems


Image : Frosts’s My November Guest was my favourite November poem

“November is the pearl-grey month, the changeling between warm crimson October and cold white December; the month when the leaves fall in slow drifting whirls and the shapes of the trees are revealed. When the earth imperceptibly wakes and stretches her bare limbs and displays her stubborn unconquerable strength before she settles uneasily into winter. November is secret and silent.”Alison Uttley

I belong to a dynamic poetry club here in Malaysia and we have a theme when we gather to discuss and share poetry, our own as well as from published poets and writers. This month of November our theme was simple, it was well “November”!

I never knew there were so many “November” poems, with the words November as well as describing November and things that happened in history in a November month. Truly Wow! The one quoted in the text above symbolises a November in the Northern Hemisphere for me. Here on the equator November is just rainy everyday. If I could I would be a world of snow like my poem below:

Her Dance With Destiny

Out of the wardrobe she came
Looking for a new friend, a game
Finding fresh fallen snow
She walked out a little more

From between the woolen coats
She tied her safety ropes
Her lifeline back to reality
After her dance with destiny

Behind a cluster of white birch
Stark against the whiter church
She saw destiny extend his hand
He asked her come join his band

He was as blue as her icy heart
Shinning shimmering colder art
But his smile reached her, warmer
She accepted, walked out further

So she joined this band of sound
Making music upon the ground
Dancing deeper into whiter wonder
Finding rhythm’s beauty a splendour

A new game she played
Upon earth’s Teutonic plates
Keeping time guessing truths
Breaking rules leaving clues

A re-post of a poem written at the beginning of this year as I was so excited to see snow……in a photo sent to me from my best friend living in Alberta, Canada. It’s already snowing up in the Rockies and I wish I could go play with her in the white snow.


image: snow in Alberta, from my Canadian friend



25th November 2017 – Come Sit With Me – In the Go Dog Go Tree Top Café


at my poetry club we spend time over November poems and hot coffee

“Sometimes, people can go missing right before our very eyes. Sometimes, people discover you, even though they’ve been looking at you all the entire time. Sometimes, we lose sight of ourselves when we’re not paying enough attention. We all get lost once in a while, sometimes by choice, sometimes due to forces beyond our control. When we learn what it is our soul needs to learn, the path presents itself. Sometimes we see the way out but wander further and deeper despite ourselves; the fear, the anger or the sadness preventing us returning. Sometimes we prefer to be lost and wandering, sometimes it’s easier. Sometimes we find our own way out. But regardless, always, we are found.”

― Cecelia Ahern, A Place Called Here

It’s been awhile since I posted in the café and I have missed being here. Life can throw us curve balls we can’t catch or dodge that hits us right in the solar plexus. We recoil, in pain, in anger, in frustration and sometimes just collapse under the sheer impact. When it happened to me, I just wanted to disappear. Just like the novel I quoted above, I wanted to be in a place called here. In a place where no one could find me.

But soon the feeling, either of pain or grief lifts and we have to resume life as we knew it, with a new found understanding that even though things may not be the same and we are not going to be the same either, but we can move on. We need to find ourselves again and allow ourselves to be found.

While I was hiding away I had a lot of time to read and I did so voraciously, like I had been deprived or had been on a strict diet. I read in every free moment and space I found. My favourite place was a cosy café where I did not want to be known or recognised. The solitude was my own prescription and the coffee my tonic. The book was my salvation.

There’s an unspoken camaraderie among readers and coffee drinkers in cosy, quiet cafes, the silent welcome with downcast eyes peering over book tops. The gentle nod as you glance up once every so often to rest tired eyes, eyes that sometimes tear with not reason, and you blame it on the story in the book, and that gentle nod from a stranger tells you, they understand too. I craved the anonymity yet looked forward to the familiar faces. I did not need spoken words; I hated the sound of speech and laughter grated on my nerves. A quiet, cosy café gave me a place to grieve against the impact of the curveballs that left me paralysed and aching for answers to questions I had no one to ask.

But while I sat alone in the real world café, safely detached from all possible human interaction my friends in this virtual community of writers, poets and storytellers never let me be alone. They sought me out from my hiding place, they offered me comfort and encouragement through my hardest days, days of struggling with own thoughts that wound like a tight rubber band in my head waiting to snap, and my beautiful friends help loosen the cinch of that painful ache around my head and heart.

As always, this is the part where I stop and ask myself, what’s my point? Where am I going with all this? Belonging to a community is important, as a human first and then as a writer, we need each other, we thrive because the others never stop nurturing and encouraging us and our talent. The backbone of this café community was built on trust, faith, admiration and respect for one another. While tough times will always appear, tougher people stand stronger together; especially when one is floundering we join hands and provide a web of support, affirmation and love.
I love that I have this community to belong to, a place I can call home. Not just a place called here. A place where I am welcomed even when I am at my worst for then I can rest to become my next very best.

Hope & Love


15th July – Come Sit With Me – In the Go Dog Go Cafe


Flat white @ the Morning After

Come sit with me because I found a cafe that was empty at 5 am one Friday morning! It was called the Morning After and the coffee was ground fresh as you ordered it and served with a smile and little chat that warmed my heart.

My mind has been filled with mathematical equations, work instructions and achieving deadlines it seems all I really want to do is have a good cup of coffee to restore sanity to my life.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity that has left me breathless and gasping for air before I finally crash at day’s end and sleep till the alarm goes off. I must thank my beautiful family for dutifully assuming their roles and carrying out their responsibilities while I was present but hardly around.

I thank Sangbad for writing in my absence and keeping the café vibe alive. His post for last week’s “Come Sit with Me” was brilliant and we may take turns writing this segment.

And I also want to thank the lovely café community for the support and love that continues to make this a special place, the place where we can hang out and just be ourselves and where everyone knows your name!

This week I have hardly had the chance to read other blogs and have left my unattended but I have managed to sit in a few cafes while on my travels and read novels, combining my two loves as the days swirled past me. I devoured books as I was introduced to new writers and I felt my life enriched beyond expectation.

This past few weeks I have read to name a few:

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland – gifted to me by my good friend and blogger here in Malaysia Ally L Mare, I loved it Ally and made notes so hope to write a review of this and the other book The Giver by Lois Lowry one day!! But just a quick word, to encourage you to pick it up, the ending was totally unexpected of a Young Adult novel, it started out dealing with teenage problems but finished saying something really profound to the adult we all need to become.

The Arab of Our Future Parts 1 & 2 by Riad Satouff, my book club reads interesting books and there are interesting people I connect with in this club that brings so much flavour than just being solitary in my choice of reading material. I have never read a graphic novel before this and started with trepidation but happy I persevered, it was an amazing look at the life of an immigrant, told through the eyes of a talented child.

Hemmingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck – fact and fiction interwoven set against the Depression Era in Key West with the 1935 Labour Day Hurricane as the event that brought the community together. My love for historical fiction and anything that deals with the war and veterans of the war pulled me into this fascinating story and I finished it during my 3-hour flight. If you have read Ernest Hemmingway, read this, it’s Papa come to life. And I felt like his daughter, and as a writer felt the ache a writer feels for the subjects we write on.

I was introduced to writers I would never have picked up ever, the Australian National Treasure – Tim Winton and his book Breath, a look at taking risks and how far we would go living a reckless life. The Heart of Darkness author Joseph Conrad and his travel through the Congo narrated while on a Thames riverboat is riveting reading.

So where am I going with all this? This week while I have had limited online interaction and missed it so much, the break has enabled me to connect with people in my physical world and be part of real life after hiding for a good many years. And reading books from a time long reinvents me I feel. And I think about what my assignment is, in writing and churning out stories and poetry?

I read this piece a few weeks back and it has stayed in my head, about the assignment we have as writers in dark and trying times equally in good and happy times. I quote the text from Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings a favourite inspirational site that blends science and art.

“This is your assignment created by Illustrator Wendy MacNaughton and writer Courtney E. Martin offer a heartening answer in a collaboration that stands as a mighty manifesto for our time and a testament to the only mechanism by which the creative spirit has ever pulled humanity out of every abyss of its own making.”

Feel all the things. Feel the hard things. The inexplicable things, the things that make you disavow humanity’s capacity for redemption. Feel all the maddening paradoxes. Feel overwhelmed, crazy. Feel uncertain. Feel angry. Feel afraid. Feel powerless. Feel frozen. And then FOCUS.

Pick up your pen. Pick up your paintbrush. Pick up your damn chin. Put your two calloused hands on the turntables, in the clay, on the strings. Get behind the camera. Look for that pinprick of light. Look for the truth (yes, it is a thing—it still exists.)

Focus on that light. Enlarge it. Reveal the fierce urgency of now. Reveal how shattered we are, how capable of being repaired. But don’t lament the break. Nothing new would be built if things were never broken. A wise man once said: there’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. Get after that light.

This is your assignment.

Wow! Isn’t that amazing to read and let sink in. Then after reading Hemmingway’s Girl I found out about this article he, Ernest Hemmingway wrote, or as I would like to refer to him: Papa as he is affectionately known, and here it is for your reference. http://www.unz.org/Pub/NewMasses-1935sep17-00009

I’ve copied below two passages that show you Hemingway’s anguish over the fate of the war veterans during that time and for some others that touched his life.

“Who sent them down there?

I hope he reads this—and how does he feel?

He will die too, himself, perhaps even without a hurricane warning, but maybe it will be an easy death, that’s the best you get, so that you do not have to hang onto something until you can’t hang on, until your fingers won’t hold on, and it is dark. And the wind makes, a noise like a locomotive passing, with a shriek on top of that, because the wind has a scream exactly as it has in books, and then the fill goes and the high wall of water rolls you over and over and then, whatever it is, you get it and we find you, now of no importance, stinking in the mangroves.

* * * *

You’re dead now, brother, but who left you there in the hurricane months on the Keys, where a thousand men died before you in the hurricane months when they were building the road that’s now washed out?

Who left you there? And what’s the punishment for manslaughter now?”

Read about a time when people were at their lowest, financially, morally and spiritually and then a hurricane hits and your government forgets about you. Forgets about the men and women who sacrificed to defend country in the war, left to die building a road for the economic prosperity of a town inhabited by the rich and famous and beautiful. A road to be built by the scarred, broken, ugly veterans who seemed to have less use than the envisioned road in a society focused on being beautiful and staying strong.

I was moved by his writing; Hemmingway knew how to live life one way only, loud and intense and died the same, but the life he led was honest to what he believed was the right way to live. Yet he never forgot the man on the street, defended the weak and tried to be a good person according to the standards of the people around him. That made him capture the people he lived with and he wrote them into his novels. How often do we do that? And is right to keep people between the pages of our stories?

So what is your assignment? Is there something happening around you that you must write about? Is there something that you read that has moved you to write your own words in response? If there has been, pick up your pen and write or your thoughts will be forgotten with the rush of day and then it becomes a distant memory you will never recapture.

This is your assignment!

I hope the weekend will be especially sweet and filled with memories, if they aren’t yet, go out and make them. I am looking forward to book hunting and more café moments this weekend besides a picnic in a park and holding hands under the stars.

Hope & Light