A Little bit of Mobi-Introspection
Today folks, I’m talking a bit of a break from commenting on world events, be they trivial or earth shattering, so today’s blog contains two subjects that are currently closest to my semi-bionic heart: my health and my writing.
I do hope they don’t bore you too much and I will back in my normal ‘commentator’ mode, next weekend.
On-going health issues are still taking a central position in the life of Mobi of late.
Last week I reported that a bad head cold seemed to have settled on my chest and that I was taking diuretics as friend had suggested that the severe congestion might have been caused by a build-up of fluids.
Well, by Tuesday it had become so bad that I could hardly breathe, so I went to see one of my GP-type doctors in Jomtien and he immediately diagnosed a chest infection and bronchitis. To be fair to my friend, when the doc first learned of my heart condition, he too thought it was a build-up of fluid, until he got his stethoscope out and heard the intense wheezing.
Anyway, he got his nurse to give me a huge shot of penicillin in my arse, who succeeded in putting the needle right into my sciatic??? nerve, and I am still limping, 5 days later! Armed with a large dose of oral antibiotics and other meds, I was ordered to take complete rest and let the meds do their work.
At the time of writing, I seem to be on the mend, but I’m still not out of the woods yet. Another one of the meds the doc gave me turned out to have some very unsettling side effects. Within hours of taking them, I suddenly started having random attacks of hiccups, (which I have not experienced since I stopped drinking), and almost as bad; I found I couldn’t sleep. For the first night, I barely slept more than two hours all night, and when I did finally manage to drop off, the hiccups woke me up again!
A quick ‘Google’ on the side effects of the drug soon confirmed my suspicions – gastric problems and insomnia! Thanks Doc.
Anyway, hopefully the antibiotics are slowly doing the trick, and on the positive front, I realised that about two days ago, the severe chest pains at night had all but disappeared. Upon waking, my chest feels a bit tight – but that is it – no intense pains that get worse whenever I try to move, and which used to make me reluctant to get up and go to the loo until I was positively bursting. This is excellent news, so I can now formally record that in my 9th week of recovery, the rib cage must have finally started to knit together, as not only has the pain all but gone, but so has the unnerving clicking of the rib bones, which used to occur all too frequently .
I know you all must be getting a bit bored with all this medical news, and I am hoping that in the coming weeks, I will be able to keep such content to a minimum, as I hopefully continue on my chequered road to recovery.
‘So why write about it at all if you think you are boring your readers?’ I hear you ask.
Well for two reasons. The first is that because ‘Mobi-Babble’ is about me, Mobi, and what has been going on in my life in the past week – whether exciting or boring, it is what it is, and I will always write a few sentences to record the happenings of my daily life – the continuing life of a recovering alcoholic
The second reason is not quite so obvious, but the fact of the matter is that ‘Mobi-Babble represents a sort of personal diary, and from my, (personal), point of view, I do find it quite interesting when I flick back through my old blogs every now and then and see what I have been up to over the past three years – much of it completely forgotten. In a few years’ time, when hopefully my heart operation will be but a distant memory, I will still have this harrowing account to remind me of what I had to go through to buy myself a few more years of active life on this earth of ours.
Similarly, many of the ‘vignettes’ that I have written in this blog, like Mobi’s Story, Azzy, Nid, Mardie and even Metta are also largely a catch up of all the diaries that I wish I had kept throughout my life.
How many of you out there in blog-land have similar written accounts of your life, I wonder?
I first started writing stories as far back as my days in junior school back in East London, when at the tender age of 6, my headmaster was so impressed with a little tale I told on the life of a purse, which travelled from person to person, as it changed ownership, that he read it out in front of the whole school.
At the age of 10, I was writing plays for my school friends to perform in our spare time, and during my grammar school years, one of my English teachers used to take great pleasure in reading out my long essays, containing exciting stories, in front of the entire class every week. Then I wrote a few plays in my late teens, all of which were performed in local amateur theatres, and that was the end of my writing career for many, many years.
I had always wanted to write, but daily life and an exciting series of careers in the wide world always took precedence on my time, and it was only after I retired at the age of 54, that I decided that it was high time to return to more creative pursuits.
My first efforts were a series of short stories, entitled ‘Tales from Thailand’ which, although the back ground and characters were roughly based on people and places that I had known, the stories were largely works of fiction. I tried for a very long time to get these stories, which were all written in the first person, published, but nobody was interested, especially as the ‘short story’ format was almost a dead art and completely un-commercial, unless the author was already well known to the buying public.
I suppose I can consider myself fortunate that I did eventually find a very small, ‘print on demand’ publishing house that was prepared to publish my little tome – firstly as a ‘two story’ set, and later the entire collection. Of course it didn’t sell very well and eventually sunk without trace; but it did have the benefit of establishing me as a fully-fledged, published author, with a couple of ISBN’s (International Standard Book Numbers), all of my own.
After this, I wrote a long-ish children’s story entitled ‘Terry the Tomcat’ which was rejected by every children’s book publisher in the land, and then I followed it up with a dramatic short story entitled ‘The Bahrain Incident’, which I submitted to a number of crime magazines but never even had the courtesy of even a rejection note.
I then embarked on my first full length novel, which was based partly in the UK and partly in Thailand. It was a long, rambling adventure/ crime caper/ romance novel, with plenty of action, killing, exciting cliff hangers and at its centre a tale of unrequited love. The heroine, a rich, beautiful, Oriental Thai lady, overcomes her dark and tragic past and becomes a bit of a dab hand at amateur crime detection. The hero was an inept, shy, clumsy Englishman, who falls in love and learns the delights and terrors of a land on the other side of the world. I thought it had a bit of everything in it for the punters to get their reading teeth into, but the agents and publishers didn’t seem to agree with me and once again, mass rejection was the rule of the day.
There was one UK literary agent, who had a connection with Thailand through his son who was married to a Thai lady, and he provided me with a long critique of the novel, and even offered to assist me in re-working it for a fee. While I fully accepted some of his criticisms, I did reject many of them as they concerned my accounts of events occurring in Thailand, which he stated were too far-fetched. Yet I knew for a fact that the basis of my story lines was far from fanciful. He also criticised one aspect of my writing style, which was written in the ‘third person’, after using the ‘first person style’ in my previously published ‘Tales from Thailand’. I shall come back to this particular issue later.
There was then another hiatus in my creative writing, as my divorce from Noi took centre stage, and I moved back to Thailand and spent the next 8 years becoming a fully-fledged alcoholic, going through a disastrous marriage and in and out of countless shorter, but no less hopeless relationships. I started writing my blog in July, 2009 – 3 months before I left my last wife – which contains a fair amount of creative writing of one kind or another, but it wasn’t until last year, 2011 that I finally sat down to embark upon writing a brand new novel from scratch.
Looking back, I can see that although my early writing may have had some merit, it was all really a dress-rehearsal for the real thing and I can have no complaints about the almost 100% rejections by publishers and agents. Some of the writing is not all bad, but a lot of the content leaves much to be desired and certainly would require substantial re-working to bring it up to professional standards. Like every other skill I have acquired in my life – from playing musical instruments to financial management, I have never had anything approaching professional training in the art of writing. I have just jumped in the deep end and given it my best shot. I have belatedly realised that sometimes your ‘best shot’ is simply not good enough.
The other day, I tried to establish how long it has taken me to date to write my current novel, which currently stands at 148,000 words, (longer than most modern novels), and probably still has at least 50,000 words to go – quite possibly more. I actually started writing it in January, 2011, but three months later, I was back at the start, re-writing the book from page 1, as yet again, I had decided that my writing was simply not up to standard. Then there was a very long period when very little was done – maybe for about 6 months, after I had inadvertently deleted a huge raft of text, and try as I might, I never succeeded in recovering it.
At my present rate of progress I am still hopeful that the novel will be finished by the end of October, although much will depend on how much of a task the final, ‘part four’ turns out to be, and the amount of time I am able to continuously devote to it. After that, I will commence a further re-editing of the entire novel, and God knows how long that might take.
I have received relatively few comments on my creative writing over the past few years, but most that I have received, have given me encouragement to continue.
Here is small selection of some of the more complimentary comments below:
“Haven’t been able to stop reading all of your stories and am now on story 8. This one about Metta was gripping and inspiring at the same time. If I purchased what you have written in a book, it would be a page turner and I would surely recommend the book to others.”
“Truth or fiction?
Up to me I suppose.
I had chills down my spine at several points.
You wasted your time as an insurance executive.
Very, very moving.
“Very entertaining feel-good story and so different from most farang stories about Thailand!”
One of the most mammoth and gargantuan reads of the drunken depths and mishaps I’ve ever come across.
They say there’s no fool, like an old fool.
At least you’ve experienced the full extent of lifes rich tapestry.
Indeed as a baby-boomer you are probably among the most wasteful and squandering of money in Thailand I’ve ever heard of!
They say live and learn, but have you?
Love it …
Great story Mobi.
I gotta say though … Azzy is nuts. But I guess you already know that. She has some balls though, starting to scream at armed soldiers in the middle of nowhere (at night) in Nigeria is not for the faint of heart !!!
Your story is interesting and thanks for sharing it though and I think it’s in your personality, your genes even to be the guilible, failed-romantic drunk. The trouble is Thailand seems to chew up and spit out such folks.
I can only hope that others will view your tale as a cautionary one.
Good luck with your publishing.
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I like this blog its a master peace ! Glad I discovered this on Google .
Hello there! I really enjoy reading your blog! If you keep making great posts I will come back every day to keep reading!
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I am extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one these days..
So this is largely an autobiographical version of earlier blogs or an actual novel? Or partly both? I wish you all the very best with your surgery by the way. I enjoy reading your blogs immensely, and the pics are pretty good too. I’m an expat living in Thailand, but still working as an expat in Africa so it makes me smile each week to read your posts. Long may it continue.
I am truly grateful for any comments – good or bad – and will faithfully publish them all in my blog, provided they are not abusive or highly inflammatory.
As mentioned above, I have never had any training in creative writing, and neither have I studied the writing styles of successful authors to understand the methods and devices they use when writing their novels. University was a luxury that passed me by. I suppose writing novels, without at least being aware of these basic ‘rules’ is akin to composing music without understanding music theory. But at the end of the day, both are surely possible? Did Dickens, or Hardy or a Bronte go to university and study the rules of writing before creating their masterpieces? I think not.
Anyway, the agent who wished to help me to re-work my first novel, accused me of continually inserting an implied ‘narrator’ within the story, who seemed to be ‘all knowing’ and , by implication, was something that I, as an author, was not supposed to do. This criticism bugged me, as I am an avid reader of classic English novels, and upon quick investigation, found that almost all of them contain examples of ‘narration’ in a manner that the agent told me was not correct.
Maybe the agent was trying to infer that contemporary novelists do not use such devices, but I actually found no convincing evidence that this is the case; indeed I found the opposite – that all manner of modern and unconventional story telling devices are frequently used in today’s novels.
It was ultimately his scepticism on the back ground events that I described as happening in Thailand and also his criticism of my ‘narrator style’ that dissuaded me from getting more involved with him in a re-writing effort.
Much later, in fact relatively recently, I did return to this subject of writing styles and decided to do a bit of research. What I discovered was a bit of a revelation, but nevertheless, has done nothing to convince me that anything I did before, or now, is in some way a ‘wrong way of writing’.
My research, while making me giddy with the never ending variety of writing styles and even the mix of writing styles within a single novel, demonstrated clearly to me that the agent was talking out of his backside and I am glad I didn’t try to work with him.
He did, however bring the subject to the forefront of my mind, and in writing my novel, ‘A Lustful gentleman’, I have tried as much as possible to stick to the style I now understand to be ‘Third Person Subjective’, in which the author, as narrator, conveys the thoughts, feelings, opinions, etc. of one or more characters.
Occasionally I may have strayed into the third-person omniscient narrator territory, when I might have provided a ‘panoramic view’ of the world of the story and looked into many characters and into the broader background of a story. A ‘third-person omniscient narrator’ can relate feelings of every character. I have tried to avoid this as I prefer to tell the story only through the eyes and feelings of the main characters, but even if I have not totally succeeded in this, it matters little.
Indeed the experts tell me that ‘certain third-person omniscient modes are also classifiable as “third person, subjective” modes that switch between the thoughts, feelings, etc. of all the characters.’
The experts also write that, ‘Currently, there is no consensus within the writing community regarding the number and composition of fiction-writing modes and their uses.’ The third-person omniscient perspective has been the most commonly used in countless classic novels, including works by Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, and George Eliot. A story in this narrative mode is presented by a narrator with an overarching point of view, seeing and knowing everything that happens within the world of the story.
Further, there are many examples of authors switching modes in mid novel, such as ‘The Harry Potter’ series, which is told in third person limited for much of the seven novels, but deviates to omniscient in that it switches the limited view to other characters from time to time, rather than only the protagonist, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, which switches between third and first person, as does Charles Dickens’s Bleak House.
What does all this truly giddying information tell me, (and I assure you I have mentioned less than 5% of what I have actually read)? Well, it tells me that the greatest composers and authors have sat down and written their creative pieces, and then academics and music experts have tried to categorise their work, and invent writing procedures and then tell new, would-be creators: these are the rules; follow them!
What came first? Music composition or music theory?
What came first? John Bunyan? Daniel Defoe? or a dissertation on writing styles?
Damon Runyon – to name but one of many – broke about every rule of creative writing in the book, yet his stories were acclaimed and sold by the millions.
But being a humble, desperate to be published author, I promise, sir, to do my best to stick to the rules… well most of them, anyway….
BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I Don’t give a Hoot!