November

2013-Winner-Vertical-Banner

During the past month I have:

– Started teaching at a new job where the classes are rather large,

– Bought a sofa,

– Bought 2 orchids, one with flowers that look like octopuses,

– Bought a fridge,

– Celebrated 1 year with my gorgeous girl,

– Written 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month!

(See my posts about NaNo last year here and here.)

It was my third attempt, and my second time at winning. Big thanks go out to the group of writers in Asia who I met with on Skype for word races :)

To explain: NaNoWriMo is a challenge to those people who say they could write a novel, or a book, or something but say they never have time, or keep putting it off, or whatever. Or for people who are slightly barmy and just want to see if they can do it or not (aka me). The challenge is to write 50k words of fiction (though I suppose you could write anything) in November, so that’s 1667 words a day average. If you reach the end you get a certificate, and a lot of personal satisfaction. It doesn’t have to be 50k of good writing, no, that’s not the challenge. Just words that form some sort of coherent something. Editing comes later.

For me, this works so well. If I were to write 50k of good stuff straight off the bat, it would take me f o r e v e r. I get disheartened when I have, what at Nano is called, an ‘inner editor’, constantly telling me that every word I write isn’t good enough, or doesn’t really fit, or doesn’t make sense or is just plain awful. And so I don’t write. I write a bit and then I delete it or I give up because I don’t give myself a chance to just write.

Not only that, but I fail to get excited about a plot that is just scrappy bits of information and nothing real.

Writing nearly 2000 words a day, means I don’t have time to let the bad stuff in. So what if there is a gaping plot hole, if the character isn’t really rounded, if I’ve jumped about and missed out a connecting link, if I change my mind about something half way through. My story is a living breathing real thing. I get inspired, I get excited, and I create.

There are days when I get annoyed too, of course. Days when I wish I had never taken up the challenge. But it gets remarkably easier the third time around. The first time I got about half way and gave up. Second time I finished and third time I felt like I could have written more – my story is no where near finished.

I am not a writer either. What I mean is that, Nano is the first real go at writing something fictional I’ve ever had. I believe that this turns off some people who do deem themselves writers. They see it’s just for amateurs as a way to say they can write, and as a way to dumb down the art of storytelling. I don’t see this at all. Writing takes time and patience, and being good at writing really takes learning, and more patience. But most of all, of course, writing takes writing. Nano is just a starting point. What you choose to do with your words afterwards is up to you.

And… never mind adults like me, but Nano is inspiring lots of children to write and want to write more in the future. This can only be a good thing!

This year for me, it was like a puzzle, where I was creating the shapes of the pieces and the picture on them, but I had no idea of the overall picture. I had a lot of fun trying to tie everything together. I also learnt that I find it really hard to write dialogue, decide on character names, and that even when I think I don’t have anything to write, I do.

I’m taking a break at the moment, I will be continuing to write it… I can’t have an unfinished story! Then the editing will begin later. Ahhh!

For anyone considering taking part next year, do it, I urge you. It feels really good to accomplish something, even if it’s just for yourself. :)

Food

Food I miss from England right now that I can’t get in Bangkok:

Salt and vinegar crisps
Cheese and onion crisps
Chish and fips (aka fish and chips), specifically scampi and chips and battered sausage and chips
Apple crumble made with Bramley apples, and eaten with custard
Royal icing on a good cake
Rich tea biscuits
Victoria sponge cake
Eton mess with strawberries and raspberries
Blackberries
Fresh ravioli/tortelloni you can (could?) buy 2 for £2.50
Fish finger sandwiches with mayonnaise
Kippers
My mum’s ‘Budget Beef Wellington’ and her roast chicken and stuffing pie
Swede and potato mash
Mr Kiplings Cherry Bakewells
Scotch eggs

Hmmm……….. *stomach rumble*

What food would you miss/do you miss most?

วันพฤหัสบดี (Thursday)

I woke up at about 8, and set about getting breakfast, getting dressed, making tea, and at about 830 it started raining heavily. This was slightly out of the ordinary, as the heavens tend to wait until mid afternoon to open. By 10 I had read enough of my book, practised enough of my guitar and I decided I should probably be getting to work a little early anyway.It was still raining.This wouldn’t normally phase me; after an hour or so the rain is usually quite light, and I don’t mind getting a little damp. Not today, though.

I stood at my window watching the streaming waterfalls that had become the building opposite. A thick grey sheet had enveloped the rest of the view, and I knew that if I went out I would likely be swallowed up by it too. I waited, and waited. Finally at least half an hour later, I felt able to forage out, cardigan over my head (I had left my umbrella somewhere I discovered to my dismay).

“Nam tuam!” said my security guard as I went out the main door. He was hopping about excitedly (I am used to him professionally greeting me with a salute). “Nam tuam!” he said again, indicating just below his knee.

Nam tuam is probably the first word I learnt this time round in Thailand, as I came last year at the beginning of the floods up in the north of the country. I was witness to the panic and worry while everyone tried to figure out and predict what would happen to Bangkok as the water came south.

“Jing lor”. I walked down to the end of my footpath-less soi, past lots of parked taxi’s with their doors open, to witness taxi drivers standing, hands on hips and handkerchiefs on heads. Indeed, a wide river of brown water, just over ankle deep had appeared on the footpath-less main road, my passage to work and beyond.

Two motorbike taxis went past me relatively slowly as I stood and considered my options. I mentally crossed off trying to wade through it (it’s a good 7 minute walk to the skytrain station), and then cursed myself for not flagging down one of the motorbikes – not the safest considering the water, but one has to compromise when one doesn’t want to get one’s feet wet.

For 15 minutes I stood, unsure of how to approach the situation, taking cautious steps backwards, away from the large dull coloured waves that spilled up the ‘bank’ of the new river every time a vehicle decided they could still manage to drive through it. The motorbikes that bravely ferried people across all had several people on them at a time.

Out of nowhere, suddenly a Thai lady popped up and helpfully ushered me onto a mini-truck that was headed in the direction I wanted to go. Unfortunately I had to wade a little to get on it… (why I walked on tip toes through the water, I don’t know. It didn’t help me stay dry one bit) and slowly, slowly we drove, the small truck trying it’s hardest, it’s wheels half covered by water – and I arrived at the station relatively dry, to have the driver “mai pen lai” (nevermind) the money that I offered him!

After many wais and “kop kun”s all round, I got on to the reasonably packed skytrain with a warm feeling in my heart… and a soggy feeling in my shoes.

People

Isn’t it funny how some people remind you of other people? Some people, even though they may be separated by continents and cultures, have similar mannerisms? I often find this intriguing. My mum suggested the idea to me that there are only a certain number of ‘types’ of personality/people in the world – is it this? Or is it that I want to remember my friends, so I project my memory onto other people?

I write this because one of my Thai students totally reminds me of a South African friend back in the UK. I swear he smiles the same, laughs the same, is roughly the same size/height, maybe a bit younger…but so alike. And another student today I considered if she knew one of my friends from the US, I totally think they would be great friends, the way they talk, the things they like.

Hm. Random post :) But it always gets me thinking. And gives me a warm feeling inside. Maybe people aren’t so different after all…?