Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 151: AN ODE TO FICTION
POST RETIREMENT ADDENDA
Ok, first of all; do not be fooled by the number 151. This is not really a submission and I am for sure not coming out of retirement. It's just that my super computer has some kind of automatic program and every time I get within three feet of the keyboard it automatically pulls up another email form to Stick and automatically sequentially titles it. Then like a quark in the Van Allen belt I find myself responding to the pull of forces greater than my self. Yeah, that's it. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. So all of you Dana haters can rest easy. The monster is well and truly dead. This is just a post-retirement addenda. Think of the Pope making comments on the way to heaven. Who loves you baby?
Greetings Sticksters, Dana fans, and lesser mortals–
Well it is over and sweet jesus on a cracker what a relief not to have to come up with something clever and original this week. Stick says I still have to wash and wax his car every Saturday and Mrs. Stick says I still have to trail behind her and carry her packages in malls on Sunday even though I am no longer making submissions but these are small things. My Len Wai or Me Den Mai or Mai Ben Ron or–whatever. Anyway this is just a summing up piece. A brain dead farang could bang this puppy out and typing something is helping me with the withdrawal symptoms that are starting to settle in. I tried to steady my nerves by cruising some tranny sites but even that did not help. Made me even more jittery if you get my meaning. So some post retirement typing and it's just about fun.
AN ODE TO FICTION
I didn't stumble across the Stickman site until 2003 because that is the first year I got a computer. Fifty four years old and my first computer. By personality and background and perhaps low or spiky (handy excuse) intelligence I am completely unsuited for the computer world but I love to read and I love to write and so the computer to me was basically a library and a typewriter. Still is. My ignorance is stunning and it would take several black ink cartridges in the printer to list all of the things I can not do on this infernal machine. But it is ok because really all I want to do is read and write. Serendipity trumps stupidity. Anyway, a little surfing and up popped Stickmanbangkok.com. Back then it was mostly journalistic fact telling. The best beers and where to find them and how much they cost, and the best women and where to find them and how much they cost. In addition there were the 'I met a woman who done me wrong' sad stories in the Reader's Submissions section, plus Stick's big sections on Living & Working in Bangkok, Teaching English in Bangkok, Travel in Thailand, and the Nightlife section.
I am over simplifying but I am about to make a point. All of this material was very interesting, and a lot of fun, and attractively presented, and intelligently done but I had a lot of Kingdom experience before finding Stickman and it occurred to me that fiction would be interesting. After all, you couldn't write about the King or the royal family, or contemporary Thai politics, or Thai history in some cases, or police misbehaviors, or the war on drugs, or Buddhism/monks, or endemic corruption, or not very flattering Thai social issues, or; hey–it was a long list. And notice I did not say you couldn't write critically or negatively about these subjects. In many cases you could not write about these subjects even if you were saying nice things.
The Thais in many instances just do not want to hear from farangs. The above list is by no means the complete list. So what did that leave that farangs could write about that might make the Stickmanbangkok.com site more diverse and interesting? Fiction. Sure I wrote submissions using all of the standard literary forms: non-fiction, and maybe one or two rants, and autobiography, and opinion pieces, and one play, and point-counterpoint stuff, and straight ahead journalistic descriptive pieces, travelogue, dialogue, newspaper accounts, quotes, song snippets, a lot of farang male–Thai female relationship material, an obituary, poetry (one submission was all rhyme–an editing nightmare), essays, etc.
I can't remember it all; but the cage door was really opened when Stickmanbangkok.com started accepting fiction or faction (combination of fiction and non-fiction). It was like a dam bursting for me and at one time I had sixteen submissions all done and up on the story board ready to be sent in. Four months ahead and still typing. If I had been fitted with a catheter I probably could have typed for days. If you have made multiple trips to the Kingdom or if you are an expat and you can not easily think up original stories then you must be dead or drunk. Just my opinion. Personally, I can not think of more fertile ground in the world for writers than Thailand. If you are living in Thailand and you are drinking–well that is an excuse for not writing. But if you are living in the Kingdom and you are not a drinker and you are not writing then you need to check your pulse. Just leaving your hotel room or your house or your condo or your apartment plunges you into a rolling cresting surfline of surprises and nonsensicals that should get your attention. Living in Thailand (or just vacationing in Thailand) is a little like camping out next to railroad tracks and watching train wrecks. And if you missed the last train wreck don't worry; there'll be another. Hey, and the odds are in your favor that you will be personally involved in some of the train wrecks. Groovy, huh? And you didn't mention that on the postcard you mailed home to your friends? Start writing.
The beauty part about fiction is that only your mind limits you. You can be anyone you want to be and you can do anything you want to do. Fun. Lots of fun. A good personal example of this was the world I created in Pattaya with me and Noi and her flightsuited teddy bear flying futuristic planes at impossible speeds and doing wonderful things. Straight improbable 100% fiction of no purpose other than to entertain and have fun. I loved these ideas, and then I loved the writing, and now later I love rereading these pieces. A category you might call 'fiction-faction-fiction' because there is just enough of the inside joke and the common geography to give everyone a comfort level literary footing. The frosting on the cake is just fun for fun's sake without regard to anything other than what I can dream up within the world I have created. A wonderful thing about this world that I created was that suddenly the entire world was available for fiction. After all, if Noi and I are flying a plane made of melted flip flops, fish paste noodles, and plutonium chips at 18,000 miles per second we can go to Rio for lunch.
When this dawned on me I was ecstatic. I got so excited at having the whole world available for me and Noi and silver flightsuited teddy bear other Thai femme fatales flying fast planes to Minsk, and Prague, and Hong Kong, and Adelaide, and Singapore, and Mexico City and Shanghai, and London that I started to imagine a thirty piece series. I had the whole world available as a canvas for fiction. I loved writing these stories and I got emails from private and commercial pilots who appreciated them. Like I said, originally I had planned on a long series. After all, if Visakay could pound out a twenty-one part 75,000 word series called FIRST YOU DIE I figured I could easily marathon through a thirty part series. Take that Visakay!
I was also looking forward in the thirty part series about a South Pattaya airforce of P4P pilots and me and tranny mechanics and world wide adventures to doing something that I almost never do. I almost never block out, or plan, or outline, or research anything I write. I write everything in my head word for word (up to about 3000 words) and then at the right moment I have to find a keyboard so that the words in my head can transfer themselves to the page almost as if I am channeling. I am never writing when I am typing. The writing has already been done in my head. But I got diverted. So many other different kinds of stories to tell: so little time.
Anyway, I may have some advantages here when it comes to writing fiction because there is some evidence that I am not normal. Handicapped since birth by misery, privation, social isolation, circumstance, bad luck, broken dreams and an unending litany of childhood and adult failures I've got a lot of baggage I'm carrying around. Too cowardly to follow through on dreams of vengeance, and violence, and graphic anti-social posturing; I end up skittering around with other energies in my head. Sometimes when my belt magnets, and my shoulder balloons, and my aluminum foil antennae are adjusted just right; and I am standing on a roof top in Khlong San with my feet in tubs of chocolate pudding I get special ideas.
The beginning of my sort of calculated fiction writing career on Stickmanbangkok.com was noting for the readers that I was not like them. I was on the way to godhead status. By then I already had about fourteen submissions under individual titles and another bunch under the franchise name Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes so it was time to grab the reins. This notion that I was on the way to god status was repeated loud and often. Hey, people need to know. I'm not like them. I'm not like their boring little friends. I am going to become a god. It's all in play and just a matter of fiction time. And this is not going to happen because of some lame idea about lives of ever better deeds and thoughts and karma. It is going to happen because that is the way it is. I am not like you. I am on the way to god status. You are on the way to the 7-11 to buy snacks that look like dehydrated dog turds for your girlfriend.
Dream big. It's fiction. If the first thing you do is make yourself an almost-god there really isn't much holding you back and that is a good way to think of some of the ideas I presented on the Stickman site. Sometimes I would get emails from fools telling me I was immodest, or over reaching, or should tone down the hyperbole. Oh get real. It's fiction knucklehead. It's for fun. Is that how you live in your mind where you can dream any dream? Are you modest and perfect and always toning things down in your head? Really?
Hey, I know there are people like this. People who measure every moment of personal happiness on some scale of political correctness. Always doing and even thinking the right things. Jesus how boring. My sister is one of these perfect people. Wears oven mitts to bed at night so that she will not accidentally touch herself. Haven't talked to her in twenty years. Boring. Anyway, if you are one of these people wasting your one time on earth by doing everything perfectly one hundred per cent of the time even if it is the middle of the night and even if it is something you are doing in your head then I feel sorry for you. Jeez–don't want to know you.
It's fiction. You can do and think anything you want to do and think. Hence the CHURCH OF DANA (143) and the DANA FAN CLUB (100) and statues of me in the Nana Hotel car park (29–SOLID GOLD IDEA–2nd story) and at the head of Walking Street in South Pattaya (92–A GRATEFUL METROPOLIS)–"Meet me under my balls." Statues of me? Sure, why not; and I have to say that frankly I am a little disappointed in Stickmanbangkok.com contributors like Claymore and Simon Templar and Sick Water Buffalo and Ben Dover and Union Hill and Thai Ties and Casmeri and Casanundra and Chiang Mai Kelly and others. Where are your fiction statues to yourself? Come on, get with the program.
We need giant fifty foot tall to one hundred foot tall farang statues all over the Kingdom from Mae Sai to Betong to Hat Lek to Bung Kan. There should be huge farang statues in city and town squares, prominent building lobbies, and at regional highway intersections all over the Kingdom. Hey, I'm just sayin' what everyone is thinking. I'm not kidding. Who's with me on this? Who wants to go to government house with me and present a petition and some sketches? And while we are at government house how about also bringing up the subject of renaming. That's right. Renaming to draw attention to ourselves and our place in Siam society. For example: the Friendship Bridge could become the Casanundra Bridge. Chiang Mai could be renamed Chiang Mai Kelly Buri. Chanthaburi could become Casmeriburi. I think this will get a good response from the locals. And Bung Khan could be renamed Ben Dover Khan with a one hundred foot statue of him in shorts, T-shirt, and rubber tire sandals. Lit by purple spot lights at night this statue would serve as a testament to farang and expat values; and be an inspiration to Mekhong river travelers, and Laotians, and Thais young and old. Who's with me on this?
And speaking of statues let us not forget the huge and gleaming monument to the Viagra pill(18–YANG POWER). A temple of worship and repose and thankfulness and entertainment for the farang. Plenty to see and do and in the Spring festivals and shows and events that call attention to the saintliness of the drug companies and to the wonders of big reliable erections.
The Thai writing experience for me was like having a truck back up and dump a load of ideas on me. I had to write to just get out from under. If I had an office with three computers I could have been writing three stories at once. Makes me wonder sometimes how much I lost because I could not type fast enough. There were fiction imaginings about Thailand's future (31–NO WAY), and my future (44–I'VE STILL GOT IT), and the future of many expats (108–SIMIAN LOPE), and of course the future we never want to happen (51–FLIP FLOPS AND FLAK JACKETS).
I wrote a lot of fiction that had to do with Pattaya (too numerous to list) and partying in Pattaya (example: 123–AN ORGASM WILL BE CALLED A DANA). This Pattaya material for me practically wrote itself. Hey, the whole Pattaya experience is a fiction. You say that when you are in Pattaya young, fertile, feminine, beautiful, sexy women with Asian faces and smooth skin walk into your hotel room and just take off all of their clothes immediately? I've got news for you. That ain't real. That has not been the reasonable expectation, or experience, or even imagined dream of most men over the last 10,000 years. If you are living this way you are ahead of most men who have lived in the history of the earth. Think about it. You are living a fiction. I know your itchy anus from too much Viagra is real but the rest of your days and nights are fiction. So start writing.
When reviewing the last one hundred and fifty submissions under the category Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes I was surprised at how many times I mentioned trannies. I thought it had only been a once in a while thing. Can't account for that. Really, too many submissions to list but 96–KATOEY DICK SEEKER and 128–PATTAYA BOUND are examples. Currently, to my knowledge there is a literary and market void in the Thai tranny category. To wit: If you go into bookstores in Thailand or anywhere else in the rest of the world for that matter there are no Thai tranny novels, or Thai tranny collections of short stories, or Thai tranny big fancy photography books (real mystery here because these darlings love to pose). I think for reasons of accuracy and authenticity no one should get involved in writing on these subjects unless they have had sex with at least one hundred trannies in six months. Minimum. This is not the kind of thing you can Google, or cut and paste. Just my opinion. Really, when you think about a literary effort like this it would be almost a gift to humanity. Recording for posterity a social phenomenon that may fade away. I'm all about service to humanity.
And then of course there were private moments (146–RING. . . RING. . . RING . . . HELLO? and 95–BAD BAD BANGKOK GIRL–2nd story) and elephant love (36–HUMMINGBIRD'S WINGS). Once again I can't be the only one. Like I said to the Thai physician when my penis shed it's skin like a snake (78)–"Oh come on Doc! This can't be the first time you heard this story." Ever hung out in an Kiwi bar full of Kiwis and empty beer cans? You hear some wanky stories dude and some of those stories are prime fodder for fiction. At least I think you hear some interesting stories. Hard to know. I think I might have to place Kiwis and Thais in the same linguistic category. Can not understand one word. Honestly, sometimes when I am listening to a happy Kiwi (two cans already down) in an open air bar on soi 8 in Pattaya I feel like a bargirl listening to a farang. Can not understand one word. And that's nothing compared to the Aussies. Now you have just shot right out of the linguistic solar system. And if you happen to bump into an Aussie in the Centauri nebula, or the back side of the moon, or on the lip of a black hole; don't bother asking him for directions–you aren't going to understand him anyway.
I have a theory that Australians are allowed to hold and use passports, and travel all over the world, and enter and leave other countries because everyone else is just completely flummoxed by them. Sort of like having a pet baby duck in the house. Just let it do whatever it wants. Who the hell can figure out a pet baby duck?
These examples of Australian and New Zealand communication problems are only the tip of the iceberg. The bars of the Kingdom are stuffed with guys with different languages and impenetrable accents from all over the world who have interesting stories they can tell. But I can not understand them. Makes me wonder how many wonderful stories I have missed and how many golden nuggets of fiction I will never get to pan. Example: the story LET'S MEET IN PATTAYA (67) was a reworking of an old story I heard one day from two Londoners gathered around the ice cream guy in the maritime park. The story told their way was extremely truncated and punch line driven and broken up several times by them trying to figure out why the ice cream seller wanted to put rice in the bottom of the little paper ice cream cup. They were riveted by the notion of the oriental putting rice in the bottom of the paper cup and then putting ice cream on top of that. Staring into the ice box on his bike they had the faces and the postures of two kittens looking down a drain pipe. Anyway, this urban myth story/joke has been told for years in Pattaya and in other seaside resorts I am sure. It is probably a story that goes back six thousand years to the Egyptians because they had resorts and they had the sea and they had beautiful women. I heard it and then reworked it into a fiction piece. Makes me wonder how many other wonderful opportunities for fiction tellings or retellings I have missed because I can not understand the happy wanderer beside me.
Anyway, at first when I decided to write this ODE TO FICTION essay about the features and the benefits of fiction and fiction writing and to use some of my stories as examples; I thought I would talk one by one about every story I had written and review them from the point of view of inspiration, content, technique, personal literary habits, writing tricks, writing craft, etc–but then came the surprise. I was stunned at how much material there was. When skiing you do not pay attention to the tracks left behind you because you are always paying attention to the next hill in front of you. I had forgotten about a lot of my material. Hey, I wrote stuff I didn't even know I wrote. Or something.
In one hundred and fifty submissions under the Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes name plus the other stand alone titles I probably wrote almost three hundred stories or anecdotes or storyettes. Not all of it was fiction but a lot of it was fiction. I am not a long storyteller. I do not have a novel in me. But I like the lean fast aggressive story with attitude and surprise and unique voice. So then I thought that I would mention and highlight just the stories I had written that I was proudest of. Again, too many stories and I love all of my children equally. So, besides the stories I have noted individually in this text; below are some additional examples of Thai-farang experience fiction fun. Enjoy.
1. DANA, CENT, AND POTHOLE DO BANGKOK (original title: URI OF UDON)–25/3/2005–
"She painted her toes and he raked the white gravel in the Garden of Contemplation."
2. WAY AHEAD OF YOU BABY–(82)–an expat dream. "There was now a big black snake under the bed and it had Japanese eyes."
3. BAGS OF BLOOD–(54)–all about obsession, and the reason why expats hang on to the cliff face of the Thai experience by their finger nails.
4. LOOFAH SPONGE AND NERF FOOTBALL–THAILAND MEMORIES–(59)–"I looked like a soi dog crawling up on a Volkswagen."
5. CRANKING AND CATAPULTING–(136)–old farts rule.
6. STORY IDEAS–(46: story number one)–readers wanted to know where I got my ideas.
7. TRUMPET–(40: story number three). ". . . my white linen suit was all splatter dashed with my best friend's brains."
8. STORMTROOPERS OF LOVE–(34: story number three). "Our shoulder patches will be a heart crossed with lightning bolts."
9. GOD I LOVE THIS TOWN–(80)–"We are doing 90 miles per hour flashing over the Taksin bridge."
10. THIS FIELD IS FULL OF THEM–(83)–childhood fear brought up to date and a part of the Thai experience that travel agents do not mention.
Well, that's about it. This is a very partial list but I've got a small bladder and nature is calling me. I wrote a lot of Thailand based fiction. Really a lot. I also wrote a lot of faction (combination of fiction and nonfiction) and I wrote a ton of non-fiction. Heck, I just wrote a lot. Hell, my prologues and introductions alone would be book length. All fun. Writing fiction for Stickmanbangkok.com was great. As long as it was farang–Thailand experience centric, and well conceived, and well written, and entertaining Stick was willing to give it a chance.
Because of all the restrictions and parameters on what was acceptable on a Thai site I could never really stretch the envelope as much as I would have liked. I would liked to have written much more graphically and aggressively regarding sex and violence and chaos and the black hole of despair that is the mortar and pestle of many peoples' lives; but that was not really the type of material for Stickmanbangkok.com.
I wanted to weave fiction tapestries with threads of eyeball busting rage and grinding slashing self-pity lit by the hopeful pinpricks of life defined by vengeance and murder after murder after murder. But I couldn't–so I kept it light and played it for laughs. I would like to have written short stories that either made your sphincter open or made your sphincter close but always left you with a taste of metal in your mouth. Maybe another time and another place.
One of my enduring fiction writing fantasies over the years has been to be typing jacked on Burmese yaa baa, plunging needles choked with steroids and veterinarian drugs in my ass, and the table covered with dirty glasses of whisky and Turkish cigarettes. Menthol sticks stuck in each nostril, incense burning a line in the desk top, and zonked out filthy street whores laying around like broken toys. Moaning, and drooling, and rockin', and snapping facial tics back in place, and pumping my legs under the table; I have a heart attack and die at the exact moment that I hit the Print key on the greatest piece of fiction ever written. The best timing of my life. A literary orgasm. Maybe another time and another place.
Too bad the insane and the psychotic and the insanely violent don't write fiction we can read. Now those would be stories. My idea of a great vacation would be to spend a month in an asylum laying awake at night and listening to dark hearts and broken minds trapped in mammalian bodies that can no longer sort and prioritize incoming data; but who can still lurch and tear at the restraints while baying at the moon. Think this is extreme? Really? Have you ever actually listened to the childish drivel when your teeruk talks? Make a choice.
All the things I couldn't write was probably a good thing. It taught me to write within limits and still get the job done. Ultimately I think the restrictions and the weekly schedule benefited my writing. I learned to write lightning fast (800 words in forty minutes) and I learned to write with discipline (shut up and type). I now have almost no sympathy or interest in the 'writer's block' stories from amateurs or professionals. There is no such thing as writer's block. If you are not writing then you are not a writer. Get over it. Redefine yourself. Go get a job as a bricklayer. And shut up. Nobody wants to hear about your little personal internal dramas and your diary entries. You either are writing or you are not writing. Same same as bonking. You either are in the arms of a beautiful woman or you are not in the arms of a beautiful woman. All the rest is just talk.
Another part of the ego drama of the fiction writing lifestyle that I have lost patience with is low production. The worst or at least the most high profile offenders are famous writers who have actually said things like:
"I spent four hours writing today and got nine good sentences."
"I spent from noon to midnight in the studio and got five paragraphs. A good day."
In no other human endeavor is this kind of low production given any credence. Can you imagine telling the foreman that you had a good day laying bricks. In four hours you laid nine good bricks? This is nonsense but it is accepted in the writing world. Don't ask me why. I've got news for you. If it takes you four hours to write nine good sentences you are not a writer. Stop telling your friends and your self and your wife you are a writer. Go get a job.
I routinely get emails from people who tell me that they have written a submission and sent it in to Stickmanbangkok.com, or they have written a submission and sent it in to Stickmanbangkok.com and it got published; and it took them three weeks to write it. Three weeks. If it is a routine eight hundred word submission I am looking at two hours max. But that is ok because these people who email tell me that they are not writers and that writing is a difficult task for them. So good for them–they stayed with something that is difficult for them and they saw it through. But for the professional (gets paid or gets published with royalties attached) to say something that bespeaks this kind of low production is just ridiculous. And you hear it a lot. Almost as if they want to get points or recognition for how long it took them to do something. And of course the subterranean meaning that is supposed to be attached to a statement like: — "I spent four hours writing today and got nine good sentences." — is that each and every one of these sentences is a diamond. Art has been created. Please spare me. In a novel of three hundred pages each and every sentence can not be a diamond. If you want to know the truth, quite often the best writing takes place after the words have been laid down. It is called editing. That is why the first step in writing is not to make art but to just get the words down. When I am in the zone and typing I never ever stop to check for spelling, or make a decision about punctuation, or ask myself a plot point, or strategize, or ponder word choice, or anything. The first step is to just get the one thousand or five thousand or ten thousand words down. It's an adrenalin push borne of the certain knowledge that nothing is more important than first getting the words laid down. Laboring over each word and each comma and each sentence is not writing in the beginning. It is a substitute for writing. The reason it takes you four hours to write nine sentences is because nothing is in your head. You do not have anything to say. You are not a writer.
Because novelists and other professional literary big mouths are so successful at attracting attention to themselves; journalists and columnists often do not get the credit they deserve. Give journalists a word count, and a subject, and a deadline; and you will receive a fine piece of literature. That is writing and they are writers. High standards, and discipline, and high production. Do you believe that surgeons brag about how long an operation took? They may comment on how long an operation took, but they brag about how little time an operation took. Be interested, be competent, get in and get out.
Learn to write fast. Throw your high school term paper outline rules, and your notecards, and your research notes in the trash. Now sit down and tell your story. There either is a story in your head that will flash out through the ends of your fingers, or there is not a story in your head that will flash out through the ends of your fingers. And before you come up with some objection, or some rehearsed speech, or some complaint; consider this–it is ten time easier to write today than it was before the typewriter. Before technology when every thought had to be laboriously and slowly (how about a quill pen and an inkwell?) written out longhand it was simply impossible to go fast. Jesus what a brain freeze that must have been. But now with keyboards, and computers, and going to a class on how to type properly; you can write (type) almost as fast as you can think. Writing (and that means fiction) is much much easier today than it was in the past and a lot more fun. But I digress. The artery coming out of the top of my heart is clamping down and I can feel the pulse in my carotid artery. Time to chill and get back on track . . .
The thing with fiction is that you get an idea and then you have to create a little world that actually makes sense. It is a lot of fun and you get to stack the deck which you never get a chance to do in your real life. In real life (non-fiction writing) you have to take the cards that are dealt to you and deal with homilies like 'Make Lemonade Out of Lemons' and 'Life Is Full Of Compromise'. Boring. With the fiction cards the unhelpful and the irrelevant and the inconvenient you can just discard. You only keep and show the cards that you want to keep and show. It's your story and you can do whatever you want.
A good example of this was a fiction submission of mine entitled: ACCEPTANCE AND HAPPINESS AND LOVE (Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 77–(31/1/2005). It was a very ambitious project. A big title, big ideas, and personal thoughts made public. Very involving and challenging for me and a lot of fun. It was also, I thought; my sayonara piece–my retirement submission (first retirement–save the laughing) so there was a lot of pressure to leave at the top.
With non-fiction you are always being judged about whether you got the facts correct–the journalists are trained to get the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How–and the story will take care of yourself. Just gather the facts, shuffle the cards, and type. Chain smoking and drinking whiskey were optional but in either case you got to call yourself a journalist. In fiction no one questions the facts–just the results. It is writing. Sometimes it is called art.
The emails were fun too. I got lots of emails in response to the things I wrote from soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, tourists, expats, some smart women, a number of professors of creative writing in colleges, readers of Stickmanbangkok.com all over the world, guys who had never been to the Kingdom and would probably never get there but used the submissions as a magic carpet to go to places and experiences outside of their lives, the bedridden, and some Thais. I reached a few conclusions:
1. There are some very smart Western women reading Stickmanbangkok.com. Savvy and clever and funny and fun. I wish they were a part of my life. They'd make great neighbors.
2. Not one of the Thais who emailed me understood what I had written. Communication is very difficult. The sad part was that these were the Thais whose confidence level was high regarding reading and communicating in English and yet they still scored zero in comprehension. In four years and tens of thousands of words and hundreds of stories I did not make successful contact with one Thai.
3. There are some wonderful male expats who just want to love and to be loved.
4. And the dumbest dumbasses all seem to live in Britain. Example: I once wrote a story entitled: EMERALD EYES: Siamese Vignette–1899 (Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 33–third story) in which I was a ship captain with a broken voyage because my cargo was on fire. I received an email from someone in England telling me (crack investigator this guy) that what I had written couldn't have happened (and I was a liar) because of . . . etc. The title EMERALD EYES was subtitled: Siamese Vignette–1899. 1899. It was fiction.
5. And more on England (it's my turn now)–Over the years it seemed the most ignorant, and the most hostile emails all came from England where there are apparently a lot of men anxious for the world to know what manly men they are. If I ever have to go through Heathrow Airport I expect to see a skinhead tattoo parlor immediately after exiting Immigration.
6. Emails from guys in Australia were universally friendly and open and generous. I'd love to go to Australia before I die. If God spoke to me tonight and told me I had to spend the rest of my life in Aussie land I'd think it was a good thing.
7. I got some emails from gentlemen who wanted to share with me some photos of sexual activities with girls in Thailand. I blocked them immediately. I am not a prude but I do not find this sort of email appealing. I think some of this attention I received might partly be a misunderstanding on the part of some of the Stickmanbangkok.com readers who read my submissions. I rarely wrote graphically about sex. There were a number of reasons for this:
a. The website administrator did not want it in excess.
b. It is a very difficult thing to do skillfully.
c. It is more demanding and interesting sometimes to communicate the idea without being graphic.
d. Personally, I find it a little embarrassing. I'm a private acts kind of person.
Anyway, guys who sent me close up pics of them doing something with a girl or a girl doing something with them got blocked.
8. Writing seriously about serious things like Thais planting flowers all over the Kingdom to beautify their Kingdom and to beautify their lives, or my experiences as a foster father to two Thai girls over a ten year period received no responses. So I learned my lesson. In story content I could stray from the standard 'beers and broads' formula but not too far.
And finally, the expats who emailed me were my heroes. It was flattering to receive nice emails from them because they were doing what I could only dream about.
The stupidest email I ever got was from some knuckle dragging brainless idiot who complained that my paragraphs were too long. Words failed me. Starring at this email you could have sent me back to the beginning of time on a particle beam. The life had been sucked out of me by a remark that redefined the concept of reverse evolution. Then one day I decided to cut my paragraphs up into smaller bits. Things looked better and read better. Go figure. If I ever meet this guy I won't thank him; I'll just stare at him–you never know what bit of protoplasm is going to influence you. Sort of like bargirls.
So if you have not written a submission and sent it into the Stickmanbangkok.com site I recommend you do so. And let your mind go free. Try fiction. One of the interesting things to me about fiction in the world of farang–Thai websites, not just Stickmanbangkok.com., is that there is so little of it. I do not know what the reason for this is. Maybe it is because the real things that happen in Thailand are crazy enough without having to make things up for entertainment. Or maybe it is a sign of the times and the educational systems that do not place a premium on creative risk taking. Or maybe it is just easier to turn on the air conditioner and the TV then to sit at a keyboard sweating out a story. Or maybe it has to do with the demographics of the average farang male Thailand experience enthusiast. Beats me. Even throwing my own numerous fiction submissions into the mix, the total number of fiction submissions on Stickmanbangkok.com were so few that they were statistically insignificant. I started to count them and figure out the percentage but then I stopped. It is just not an interesting number. No one is writing fiction. Obviously there are not a lot of guys walking around saying:
"Hey I just got a great idea and it would make a wonderful story. It involves a night time Cambodian flower seller with a harelip in Bangkok who has a day job as a shipper in a Go-Go boot factory. She purposely sends out all the boots one size too small because she hates beautiful women."
I was not the only submissions contributor to Stickmanbangkok.com to send in fiction. There were others. A few come to mind:
1. The FIRST YOU DIE series by Frank Visakay (8/10/2005): a 21 part 75,000 word series with lots of action. Man stuff and a fast fun rat-a-tat-tat style. Hard to sustain over so many chapters and words. Nice work.
2. INCOUNTRY #8 by Chiang Mai Kelly (8/2/2006): a fun writer with a well of personal anecdotes that none of us can match. This is the kind of guy who can top any story you tell. A man's man and a woman's man. Strong character–strong stories. This story could have been non-fiction or faction or fiction. I had to guess. Kelly's future is in writing faction, a combination of fiction and non-fiction. "She was a razor, not a teddy bear."
3. And finally–WITH NU ON THE ROAD TO POONA by Korski (29/12/2006): Could be non-fiction or faction or fiction. I pick fiction. Similar to Chiang Mai Kelly, Korski can mix personal anecdote and fiction in a potent way. He is a good solid story teller who takes no writing format risks but can take you to places you have not been to. This is an imperfect story but you forgive him because it is interesting and compelling and demanding. It promises more than it delivers but it leaves you with a hunger the same way a woman's scent stays with you. And a wonderful title. I can imagine this title on the cover of a novel or a movie manqué. His strange stories and strange scenes of mystery and unease get my vote. I think this kind of writing should be encouraged.
So, anyway, I encourage you dear Stickman reader to consider writing fiction. Being in the zone of creative writing at two o'clock in the morning sitting in front of the screen in your T-shirt with a towel over your legs is almost better than sex. Heck, sometimes it is better than sex. Your keyboard and screen will never go starfish on you. They are anxiously waiting your every touch and every mood and every idea. And you can finally crack the 500 baht wall on expenses. Anyway, by two a.m. the room is trashed, the floor and the table are covered with debris, and you are trashed. You are also smiling. You have created a world and all of the pieces are coming together. You are rockin', your fingers are flashin', and you can hear the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction telegram being typed out at Columbia University in New York City. Rocking in your chair like someone with half a brain, and grinning like a cat that has discovered how to open the canary cage door, and mumbling and groaning–you are happy. Fiction writing. Do it.
Here, I'll help you get started with ten ideas. All you have to do is finish them. Simple.
1. "It was a no star and no moon night as dark as my teeruks soul and the inside of the room at the Nana was obsidian black–but not so black that I could not see the gleam of the stainless steel Glock as she crept towards the bed. Just then three things happened: a gecko dropped from the ceiling, there was a thunderous boom from the Glock, and . . . "
2. "My seatmate on the Thai airlines flight to Chiang Mai had a large aluminum briefcase that he kept at his feet. Over the sound of the plane's engines and our chatter I thought I could hear something inside the case. When the plane reached cruising altitude and the seat belt sign went off he got up to go to the bathroom. As soon as the door shut I grabbed the case and put it up on the empty seat beside me and popped the clasps. I'm an old man now but what happened next has stayed with me for the last thirty five years. I should have kept my hand on the suitcase lid by I didn't. I don't know what I felt first; the tongue or the lips or the . . . "
3. "The VD testing clinic wasn't bashful about advertising. Street level and big plate glass windows and prominently displayed signs advertising products and services. No shame. Everything but a midget door greeter and inside hostess with a blinding white smile and hands held in a respectful wei. Most of the customers were sick or diseased, some of them terminal. The most terminal Aids infected farangs all arrived and departed in the company of beautiful and/or loving and/or beautiful and loving Thai women. These walking skeleton men advertising through ghostly pallor and weight loss their communicable disease state had no trouble attracting young sexy women. The reason was . . . "
4. "Some say that Dana's brain wave had been flat for years but this time it was for real. The machine beeped a long sustained beep summoning nursing staff and then doctors. With no brain wave, and no pupil response, and no pulse, and no shooshing of arterial blood, and no pulmonary function; he was pronounced dead and plugs were pulled. Everyone left the room. Except one nurse. Her name was Fa. She remembered him from another life when she had been a beachfront cruiser in Pattaya. She killed the lights and pulled back the sheet and leaned over and . . . "
5. "The writer's convention was in town. In response girls had poured in from Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong and Singapore and Laos and Cambodia and Burma and Vietnam and Whitetrashistan. Katoeys were thicker than flees on a soi dog's balls. All of the big name writers who had gotten published and who had their books being sold in the Kingdom's bookstores and on the net were there. But there were also many wannabe writers who had not been published yet. You could cut the tension with a knife. The published versus the unpublished. Ego satisfied versus the dwindling reserves of hope. Some unkind remarks were made. Clever writer jokes with ice pick plunging intent. Then someone killed the lights. Screams followed by gunshots. Luckily only big publishing house editor vermin were killed. But the result was a surprise to everyone. The result was . . . "
6. "The reason the bar was called the Cyclops Bar was that all of the Go-Go dancers only had one eye. And it was in the middle of their foreheads. I guess that's where you would expect it to be. But that wasn't what got Chiang Mai Kelly's attention. What got his attention was hanging by a hook behind the bar counter. It was . . . "
7. "Below is the last statement and testament made by Dana before his death sentence was carried out in a Texas penitentiary in the United States. Following the 'Do You Have Any Last Words' quote that appears below is the story of how he ended up in a Texas penitentiary and why he was given the death sentence and what matter of mind would have made such a last statement. It is interesting to note that on the day of his death protesters outside the prison were equally divided shouting either DANA IS SATAN or DANA IS GOD.
Prisoner's Last Words: 'To state the obvious: You and I are not equal. You are ordinary. I am a neutrino god. Sometimes I have mass and sometimes I do not have mass; but I always have more weight than you. I am a god. You are the issue of loins that thought voting was important. I am stardust without blood or hope or time. We will meet in opposition. It can not be any other way. The physics of evolution and Darwinism and Danaism. I am from the darkside of the Torndule galaxy in the fourth spiral of the Gorndorf nebula arm. My stay on Earth will be short but your names are on the list. The moments of our meeting in an altered state of immolation for you and time-space hiccup for me will be your moment of glory. You can not prepare for this, only accept. No need to wash my feet. Just follow the others. Don't worry that your public embarrassments and bleatings of the past will be held against you. Nothing will be held against you. Nothing you did in your tiresome mammalian sojourn on earth counted. You are now a part of me. And I am stardust. Just follow.'
There are those that feel that the likes of Dana should be put down or at the very least kept from breeding. But to beat your enemy you have to know your enemy. The secret to Dana is . . . "
8. "The antiques store on the second floor of the Riverside Mall on the shore of the Chao Praya river catered to rich Australians and super rich Nigerians and other assorted fat rich farangs from the Shangra La Hotel and the Oriental Hotel. The retail Thai woman was tastefully dressed. A good Thai woman. Every time she leaned over or bent down to help me or to show me something her left hand would automatically rise and clutch at the top of her blouse. Modesty I thought. I was charmed. How different from the bar girls of the Nana Entertainment Plaza was this Thai female paragon of virtue. I could hear wedding bells. She was not going to allow me to see anything that I did not have the right to see. Closer inspection, however; revealed that she had two geckos clinging to her chest. Impulsively I thought that we would name our first child Exotic East. That was my first thought. My second thought was . . . "
9. "At the top of the knoll on the brow of the hill in the botanical and rock garden was a little shack that sold fish pellet food that you could throw into the koy pond. Standing in the blistering blow torch hot sun with mirror reflections of photonic heat bouncing off the weirdly shaped and weirdly collected rocks I thought I could see a face just under the surface of the water. I put the fish pellet food down and lowered myself to my knees. The fish scattered. The face was Noi, the woman I thought I was going to marry years ago until she did something horrible to me. I thought I had forgotten her but there she was smiling. Beckoning. I thought she had been stricken from my brain. An emotional trauma of the past that now just looked like poor judgement. But there she was smiling at me–and sinking. I said her name. I leaned over. I lost my balance. And then . . . "
10. "Young beautiful big package petite katoeys were disappearing from Kanchanaburi. Lots of them. The nation's principle resource of petite big package katoeys were just vaporizing. Here yesterday–not here today. It was like India losing a brain drain of computer scientists to the West. Losses that had the Kingdom on it's knees in prayer and supplication. Tall giraffe katoeys are like flies on a slaughtered pig's head. But feminine petite katoeys under five feet and with ten inches are a nation's diamond mines of Rhodesia.
Then the circular cinder black burn marks with the scalloped edges were found near the river. Seven debris disks of green obsidian glass and carbon dust powder. Each disk was six hundred feet in diameter. Spaceships. Spaceships were stealing the best of the Thai trannies and lickable ladyboys. You couldn't blame them really. Who knows–maybe trannies came from outer space in the first place. But it had to stop. The nation's arterial blood of short big package amusement parks was gushing and more than direct pressure on the social wound was needed. What was needed was a farang expert on the way to godhead status.
So the call went out. Where was Dana? Only he could solve the riddle. You see Dana was not normal. He was . . . well at the moment he was in the Phi Phi islands to the south working on a special project that consumed two thousand rai of land that he was leasing from the government. Squatters and lost backpackers had reported many circular black burn marks with scalloped edges on his property. The black circles were six hundred feet in diameter and there was green obsidian glass everywhere. Just the same as in Kanchanaburi.
Was this coincidence or was the . . . "
So come on guys. Finish up these starter fuel ideas and send them into Stickman. Become part of the fiction brigade. We'll see you at the Writer's Get-Together party. Here at Dana Central I am collating and categorizing and filing and responding to many of the incoming questions regarding the Writer's Get-Together party. Naturally I can not go into detail in advance but all signs and symptoms are that it is going to be an event of taste and decorum and . . . oh crap on that–it is going to be excess and ribaldry and childish impulse and dredged up testosterone memories.
There are going to be bands and DJ's and girl singers and magicians and circus performers and videographers and face painters and tattoo booths and valet parking, and kleig lights in the sky, and balloon artists, and three open bars, and free tailoring services, and plunging neckline model photography classes; and that's just while you are waiting for your table.
Then at the table there will be hot air balloon trips, and ice sculpture demonstration contests, and flambé deserts, and sword swallowing, and knife throwing, and tantric chanting, and palm reading, and girls whose only job will be to stand around and giggle and drop grapes in your mouth. And the food of course will mimic a Roman gastronomic orgy of fish and fowl and game and meat and vegetable and bread platters All the waitresses will be ladyboys who have just gotten out of prison and are trying to make a new start. You knew that. Oh yes, there will also be table to table prison tattoo laser removal services.
Rumor is that money is going to go through Stick faster than prunes through an old lady and I think we'd all like to see that. Anyway, the party is going to be a good time for all Stickmanbangkok.com writers and there will be only one rule. All karaoke singers will be shot. Maybe I've said too much. So come on guys and guyettes–these fiction ideas are easy. They practically write themselves and all Stick is looking for is eight hundred words of brilliant original riveting Thai-farang fiction. If you have never written fiction before and your submission gets accepted you will have earned your Stickmanbangkok.com bachelor's degree in fiction writing. But you know what you have to do to earn your PhD. in fiction writing. That's right–you have already thought of it. Yup. You have to send in a fiction submission contribution to Stick that incorporates all ten of these ideas. Get busy.
Chok Dee and Happy Writing
All emails to Dana, encouraging him to return on a weekly basis, should be sent to the email address below.