Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 322
Compulsive Bleeding Eyebrow Pluckers: Essay Idea
Here in the United States we get a lot of crazy (oh excuse me, deluded) people who imagine they are some historical figure. If you go to an insane asylum you can meet Jesus Christ, Marilyn Monroe, Hitler, God, Napoleon (losing popularity as time marches on), Elvis, George Washington, Churchill, Alexander the Great, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Michael Jackson, etc. Bye-the-way, I tried to do some research on this to get a list of current crazyass ideas but found out that no such thing is available because now in the politically correct United States we do not have crazy people anymore. Anyway, religious figures, famous political figures, pop music and contemporary figures, and famous soldiers are very popular for the demented (oh excuse me, other realitied).
One wonders if it is the same in Thailand. For example: General Taksin (1767-1782) imagined himself a living incarnation of the Buddha (go big). Before he was removed from office he was flogging monks, torturing family members, and trying to fly. Not that unusual in the West where we value personal freedoms and liberties but one wonders how normal this kind of nutter paranoia and delusions of grandeur are amongst crazy (oh excuse me, other cultured) Thais.
In other words, if you go to a Thai insane asylum are you going to meet people who imagine they are General Taksin, Buddha, the very first Issan bar girl, a giant Mekhong river carp, a loony who thinks he is a teak log dragging elephant, the first little girl to have her picture taken at the Floating Market, or Dana?
This is not an idea I have time to follow up on. If someone wants to take an interest and do the research there should be at least fifteen thousand words here. But remember, you have to interview crazy (oh excuse me, other opinioned) Thai people. Real nutballs. Whackos, Loonies. Droolers and foamers and spitters and eyebrow pluckers. Some are going to throw fecal matter at you and some will try to press their thumbs against your eyeballs. It is not easy being a writer, and having a mission, and believing in knowledge for knowledge's sake. Good luck.
P.S. Hey, wait a minute: crazy nutballs, whackos, loonies. droolers, foamers, spitters, shxx throwers, and bleeding eyebrow pluckers? Sounds like Friday night on the boardwalk to me. Anyway, good luck; and remember, this is an easy 15,000 words and a public service.
But that is not really what I want to talk about today. What I really want to talk about today is:
LET'S MAKE A NOVEL
Ok, let's make a Thai-farang genre novel. It'll be fun. And easy. Just follow these 6 easy steps:
1. Get in touch with Pattaya Gary. He can help you find an apartment or a condo with a big room. The big room will be the livingroom. You will gut it and it will become the writing room. One chair, one desk, one computer, one printer, two 4'x8' plywood tables, etc.
2. Three 4'x8' white boards that you mount on the walls end-to-end. Grease boards with grease markers and erasers. Before you start banging out text you will outline the book on these wall boards.
3. Mechanics: the novel will be 240 pps., 25 chapters plus Introduction and Epilogue, 2 maps, 3 illustrations, 5 photos, etc. Large center margins, soft cover, glued and sewn binding, page number fonts, title, etc. The list of mechanics will run to three pages. I have a shoebox full of this stuff at home for my up-and-coming opus. Chapter titles page, acknowledgement page, cover art, author photo, page size, etc. There is a ton of this stuff. Don't worry, you will change your mind on all of it before you go to press, but it is fun to do all of this stuff. Makes you think you are making a novel without all of that stupid hard writing stuff.
4. Content pieces:
One good Thai girl, one bad Thai girl, one good Essan farmer, one bad Essan merchant, corrupt people under every rock, evil Chinese bankers, various descriptions of Thai scams, one plot red herring, a surprise ending, good and bad foreigners, moralistic/educational exposes of Thai society, drug deals gone good or bad, funny bits every fourth chapter, some gun stuff, local beer information, local and national hospital information woven into the plot, no graphic sex scenes, no gratuitous scenes of violence, modern hip references to music and clothing and make-up and hairstyles plus Thai and farang motorcycle scenes and plot devices. Mention of famous writers like myself will make you look connected and special. You also need to get all of your cut-and-paste quote stuff ready to go. Quotes make you look literate: you know, like you read books and stuff.
5. Once all this is up on the white boards and outlined in detail you sit down at the keyboard and start banging out the novel (oh excuse me, transforming your thoughts into pearls of wisdom). Segues between each chapter and fine tuning will come to you as you type (oh excuse me, keyboard). Hey, it's not that hard and we are having fun. We are making a novel. You remember this. You did this in High School. It was called a term paper. The teacher told you what to do and you did it and everyone got a passing grade. Of course there were always some simp girls who made special covers and such.
Girls, go figure. And a special stress busting piece of advice: don't sweat the tense stuff; you know, present tense and past tense and future tense. Just bang it out. Roll with it. That's what I do. This tense stuff is the kind of nonsense that editors are always going on about. No worries mate: I've got that covered. Read on.
6. Sitting in the writing room with your finished final draft in your hand you are going to have to make a decision about third party editing. Are you going to allow someone else to read your book and make suggestions before you go to press? Luckily you have me to help you with this. No you are not. You are not going to allow someone else to read your final draft and make suggestions. Stick your hand down between your legs. Is there anything there? Act like a man. There is a shooting place on Ko Larn. You buy the bullets and rent the guns. Put a picture of an editor up on a washing machine and go to full auto. You'll feel better about yourself.
Only one thing: is this novel making or a construction project? Aren't big complicated sandwiches made this way? Line everything up and slap it together? Hey, look what I did. I'm a chef. And, as always; never forgetting that if you really do not have something to say you can't go wrong with the journalistic Who, What, Why, When, Where, How, and How Much? Readers will think you are writing. Anyway, is this novel writing or a construction project? Answer? Who cares? Make sure there are girls on the front cover and on the back cover and inside the book. You will soon be cashing your quarterly royalty checks and spending them on the boardwalk 500baht at a time. Remember that totally unoriginal lameass boring term paper you wrote in High School? You didn't ask yourself any complicated questions then. You just did it. So . . . just do it. Take the phone off the hook so that you will not be bothered by any personal calls from Dean Barrett (Dana, my foot is stuck in a waste basket. Can you come over and help me?) and just do it. Remember that bar bet you won in the Nevada Bar in Pattaya in 2008 by porking the ugliest girl there? Well, making novels is a lot like that. Just close your eyes and do it.
I could do the white board outline in eight seven day weeks. Six months for text, nuances, segues and clever fine tuning along with some quotes and personal stuff disguised as character depth. One week for proofreading and three weeks for editing. Now flash some money and get the thing published. I'm (you're) a novelist. A published author. I got down on my knees and sniffed the toilet bowl and my shit doesn't stink. Of course it won't do you any good to tell the girls on the boardwalk in Pattaya that you are a published author because they won't have any idea what you are talking about. Just keep saying you are a teacher. Works for me. I tell some of them that I am a teacher of Stickmanology. Always works.
And, of course; once you master the art of constructing a novel you can do this over and over. Just send your characters to a different country. Same story, different currency. Who'll notice? Nobody makes just one sandwich. Now I (you) am (are) a writer (novelist) of a book(s). Interviews on TV and cable and radio and websites will follow. Booksignings. You'll have to shove Dean Barrett off the chair at some of the book signings but it is a competitive world. Public readings and speeches at expat clubs and at that Henry Bean place in Pattaya. Sure you are wearing an adult diaper because your oncologist's hormone program for prostate cancer has made you incontinent, and sure you are impotent (Viagra impotent) because your Harvard trained oncologist's hormone program for prostate cancer has taken away your manhood; but at least you are a published author. Sometimes life is just a matter of averaging.
Oh, and what is the novel about? What is the story? Who cares? I didn't say 'write' a novel, I said 'make' a novel. Chow baby.
Sometimes life can be tough indeed…