Readers' Submissions

Stories About Me..

  • Written by BKKSteve
  • May 26th, 2007
  • 16 min read


China Hotel Guide
• Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel
• Hundred Centuries Hotel
• Laurel Hotel Shanghai
• Magnificent International Hotel

Why do we write? What keeps us putting words on paper week after week and year after year like the addiction it is? Where do we come up with the topics and fresh ideas and how do we find the dark corners of reality we sometimes stumble across? So many questions and not nearly enough time to discover the answers. Still, some questions in life take priority and we find ourselves mulling them over in our minds searching for the answers.

By now most of you know about www.Schoochers.com where some of the writers and a few readers have found a place to critique Stickman submissions. I say critique and others might say discussion, but for the purposes of the forum they are one and the same. We ‘talk’ about submissions in all ways, how they make us feel, if they relate to ourselves, if they’re well written or piecemeal, and of course if we are pleased or dissatisfied in some way. I’ve heard that knowing there’s such a forum scares a lot of would be writers off, or discourages them if the talk appears negative. This saddens me. I’ve been submitting writing and photographs for critique for many years and I rarely hear the sort of critique I’d really like to hear, instead I’ve encountered everything from laughter to downright meanness. I consider myself lucky. Why? Because there’s never been one word of a critique where if I applied myself I couldn’t find something useful to add to my experience set. The creative arts is no place for the thin skinned. The creative arts ARE the place to learn and grow and refine your craft… and my friends.. if you ever stop learning then you’ve stopped growing. Everyone jumps into a hobby or craft at some level, jump in and have fun, but do have realistic expectations about how deep the water is. Some discussion forums are good for those who like to keep their feet on the bottom and their head above water, but Schoochers is for those who can swim. Every major writer and performer of any kind, each one, is talked about in hundreds if not thousands of places across the internet by even more people. If someone is talking about you, bad or good, then it’s a good thing. Writing is about stimulating thought and perhaps stirring controversy and we do this in many ways. If someone is discussing your submission then congratulate yourself, you’ve just reached people. Isn’t that what you really wanted?

I’ve stated on this forum that I write to share. Others who have never met me or know much about me have said I write for my own benefit. We’re both correct. I write because I greatly enjoy sharing stories and information that others might find entertaining and/or helpful. I enjoy this. So yes, I do write for my own benefit. Sharing benefits me. Who knew? Is it much different for any other writer? Perhaps it is but I have trouble coming up with other reasons I personally could believe in. I want to get more into this, this part about why I write. Driving across town the other day I was listening to some music and these words caught my attention:

What ever made you want to sing stuff like that?
I just looked at him and laughed and said

Cause it's songs about me
And who I am
Songs about loving and living
And good hearted women and family and God
Yeah they're all just
Songs about me
Songs about me

Then later on when we finished our songs
About scars and cars and broken hearts

Yes! I’m thinking these are exactly the sort of topics I write about. Stories about me. Some limit their thought processes so they can say “You just enjoy talking about yourself and bragging, and yada yada yada” but most get it. How do I know they get it? Because of this next verse in the same song:

Right next to the stage
And he shouted
Man you were right
It was like you sang those

Songs about me
And who I am
Songs about loving and living
And good hearted women and family and God
Yeah they're all just
Songs about me
Songs about me

This is the crux of why I write and why I say I’m sharing. By talking about my life and experiences I’m hoping to stimulate memories and thought about the readers life and experiences with the same topics. This is why I’ll often leave out pieces of information some might consider critical to “fully understand” the story. What they’re not realizing is I gave them the first part of the story, it’s up to them to apply it to their own set of experiences and enjoy the process of finishing ‘the rest of the story’. Let me explain further. If I write a submission about a special woman I’ve spent time with, whether she was a model or a motorcycle racer, these were my experiences. But I try to write them in a way that prompts you to remember, and enjoy remembering, the special women who have shared part of your life. If I write about my weaknesses and how I’ve overcome or compensated for them, I’m writing so that you’ll remember your own weaknesses and perhaps some of my solutions will apply. Writing stimulates thought and perhaps stirs controversy, and from this we get discussion and growth.

I read many submissions from this site and my favorite submissions are those where as I’m reading it I realize I can totally relate. It might be about a taxi driver not wanting to set his meter or a girl friend who deceived, the exact topic is irrelevant, what’s important is the writer stirred my memories about something that involved either good or bad emotions and helped me relive a part of my life. I’ll enjoy the occasional trip report (when written with personality), cry for help, commentary on the state of Thai affairs, and more.. but what I really enjoy are those submissions where I can relate at a personal level and once more enjoy the experience perhaps with the writers perspective helping me along.

The very best are the submissions that prompt me to write my own submission. One that makes me feel so strongly about a topic or event that I can’t help but share my own set of experiences. Can you tell what kind of critiques I most like to hear? Yes, I enjoy being told people enjoyed my sub and thank you to everyone who has taken the time to tell me this. But what really pleases me down deep, is if my submission spawns another submission or even better an entire string of submissions. This means I’ve reached a lot of people by sharing my life and writings and more I’ve prompted them to share their own. If we were even to achieve world peace and harmony wouldn’t it start with sharing each others experiences and truly understanding them? I think so.

So, if some of you don’t mind I’m just going to keep on keeping on:

So I'll just keep on singing
'til I hear the whole world singing those

Songs about me
And who I am
Songs about loving and living
And good hearted women and family and God
Yeah they're all just
Songs about me
Songs about me

Normally this is the part where I’d say “Until next time…” This week however I’m going to give you a twofer. I’m going to share how I come up with material to write about and how I form a submission. Writing like everything else takes a certain amount of desire and skill, but anyone at any writing level can write an interesting submission. There are many styles of writing and I won’t recommend a specific one but I will share a process that will work with several. Below is a brief outline that should make it easy for those of you who have been wanting to make a submission but might not be confident of your writing ability:

I keep a tickler file on my email client where I keep notes about topics that have crossed my mind. If you’re like me unless you write it down when you think about it then it becomes a lost thought. I was out with a friend the other night and I said something and he said “I’ve been thinking about that, but the way you just said it is better” and he then pulled out a paper and pencil and took the time to write it down before tucking it back into his shirt pocket. Good for him! That’s real discipline and it’s exactly what I do when I’m ‘working’. For pleasure I use the email client. Let me pull a few notes from the file to illustrate what I’m talking about:

i) My anchor pets

ii) I want a new drug, one that makes you forget scams, not smell sewage, etc, etc

iii) Painting with light and words

iv) LOS business practices

v) Guideline to writing a submission (hmm.. that one has been on my list a while…J)

My list is really long but this should give you an idea. Just jot down a few words that will help you remember your topic idea at a later date. When you get enough of them you’ll be able to scroll down through them and see which one best fits your mood which will make things a lot more fun.

Divide your topic up into the main points you want to discuss on paper with enough room for 3-4 paragraphs about each point. For example, on the subject of “Anchor Pets” I might divide it up this way:

i) My first pet

ii) Why I enjoy pets

iii) Pets I’ve had while living in different locations

iv) My current pets

v) How someone else might want to select and keep a pet.

vi) Plans for future pets

This list is flexible. Use pencil or better yet a computer where you put a lot of lines between each topic to give the illusion of space that needs to be filled in. Sit down and let it rip. Write everything about each point in the appropriate order and don’t worry about spelling or punctuation or anything other than the creating, the putting of words on paper. This is the selfish enjoyable part. You get to enjoy yourself by remembering the past, discussing the present, or planning for the future. I know people who imbibe in some way during this process and the experience can be great fun. When you finish put it way and don’t look at it for a few days.

Days later open it up and read what you wrote. You’ll likely discover not only a great many technical mistakes, but also more than a few ‘burps’ in your flow of information. Now comes the hard boring part, the part you do for others. Take your pencil and check your spelling and punctuation. I often use a computer to write and one of my tabs in my browser defaults to www.dictionary.com which is a great on-line resource that makes quick work of looking up words for check spelling and it also includes a on-line thesaurus and encyclopedia and other reference tools. All for free! If you’re using a computer then check to see if your word processor or email client has a grammar and spelling checker. If so turn them on and pay attention to the recommendations. You don’t have to follow every recommendation it flags, just look it over and see if it’s what you want it to be. When you get done with this part put it away again.

Hours or days later open it up again making sure to be in a good mood. This is the part where you’ll need a big red pencil. You’re going to critically read everything you’ve written and draw a line through (or delete) the parts that aren’t really necessary to make your point. You might have had fun remembering and writing it down at the time, but now you’re trying to put it into a format beneficial for others to read and enjoy and this most often entails leaving bits and pieces on the cutting room floor. Leave only what is necessary to make your points and get the message across AND to embed your unique personality.

Immediately when finished with the cutting then read it through from top to bottom and see if it flows. Refer to your list of points and ask yourself if it covers everything you wanted to cover and update your list of points with things you now deem necessary but didn’t at the time. The more you write and the better you get, the more you’ll be able to organize this stuff in your mind and you’ll notice less and less of the hard work is needed. With practice you’ll be able to just start keying in your thoughts and the technical parts will become like an in-line spell checker. Nothing is more important than the creating process so don’t stop to think about the technicals long enough to lose any ideas, but you will become better at catching the obvious and then the not so obvious and more and more you’ll notice the entire process not only getting much faster but also feeling natural. It’s like learning to ride a bike, at first all your concentration is focused on staying upright, but a few days later your focus is on the cute girl jogging in front of you..

Even at this point I’d put it away and wait few days to a week before opening it and reading it again. There’s always errors to catch and different ways to say things and it’s only when you’ve read it through on two separate occasions without finding something you want to change that you can really call it finished. Once finished embed or attach it to an email and address it to www.stickmanbangkok.com and then watch the site every day to see when YOUR submission makes it appearance and then you can email the link to all your friends…J If you want to grow as a writer prepare yourself from the beginning to appreciate all feedback both negative and positive The reality is that you’ll learn a lot more from the negative feedback than you will the positive, however you’ll need to be receptive and “consider the source” in all cases.

Considering the source is very important to all feedback of creative works. If some tosser who’s always badmouthing other writers and rarely submits anything on his own and when he does it’s not all that great gives you negative feedback then consider it.. but don’t give it undue credit. If someone you respect and admire as a writer says something negative then perk your ears up and pay attention. You don’t have to agree with it, but read it and make a note of it. Often I won’t agree with a critic but later one when I’m writing something else and I find myself in the area that was criticized I’ll remember the criticism and perhaps try something different. Sometimes even after all the years I’ve been flogged I’ll let my ego deny what a critic is trying to get through to me, and then later when my mood changes I’ll realize it. There’s almost as much of an art in accepting criticism as there is in writing. For sure it takes more self control. Don’t confuse short terse comments as not helpful. Often a more experienced writer will see many areas that need improvement but won’t want to discourage you, so they’ll focus their comment to a single remark about the area they consider the most important.

Piece by piece, just like building a model airplane, hot rod, or even a garden. This is how you write. One piece of information in front of the other, added on piece at a time in an order of assembly that makes the most sense. Don’t be afraid to re-order your paragraphs for best effect or interest.

These are the basics, the building blocks and foundation. There is much more to consider but let’s save that for another time. We have some really good writers on this site with remarkable talent. Perhaps some of them will see fit to share their own techniques, what works for them and why. Enjoy yourselves..

Until next time..

I met a guy on the red eye
He spotted my guitar
And said what do you do?
I said, I sing for a living,
Country music mixed with
A little rock and a little blues
He said I'm sorry
But I've never been crazy
'bout that twang and trains and hillbilly thing
What ever made you want to sing stuff like that?
I just looked at him and laughed and said

Cause it's songs about me
And who I am
Songs about loving and living
And good hearted women and family and God
Yeah they're all just
Songs about me
Songs about me

So I offered him tickets
I said you'll see what I mean
If you show up tonight
He said I doubt you'll change my opinion
I'll be kind of busy, but hey man, I'll try

Then later on when we finished our songs
About scars and cars and broken hearts
I saw him, he was standing there
Right next to the stage
And he shouted
Man you were right
It was like you sang those

Songs about me
And who I am
Songs about loving and living
And good hearted women and family and God
Yeah they're all just
Songs about me
Songs about me

So I'll just keep on singing
'til I hear the whole world singing those

Songs about me
And who I am
Songs about loving and living
And good hearted women and family and God
Yeah they're all just
Songs about me
Songs about me

Stickman's thoughts:

The whole concept of allowing all and sundry to comment about other people's work on the internet is undermined, and to an extent flawed, by the way an increasingly large number of people will say things online which they would never ever say in person. I personally believe that people should only say online what they would be prepared to say to someone's face. It is my belief that when it comes to the majority of discussion forums in Thailand that is not the case at all.