‘Azzy’ progress report
I feel a like I’m climbing up a hill; the higher I climb, the higher the hill seems to get.
So far, I have edited my latest novel, Azzy – line by line,no less than three times, and I’m now half way through my fourth edit. What kind of frustrates me is the fact that I am making more changes to the text on my fourth edit than I did on my first.
The earlier edits were mainly concerned with correcting obvious errors in the prose. The later edits, particularly the current one, is much more about the quality of the prose.
As I read and re-read each sentence, I ask myself: Is there a better way to say the same thing? Quite often, the answer is ‘yes’.
Also, as I read and re-read, I often come to the realisation that a phrase within a sentence or even an entire sentence is actually superfluous – that I am only repeating something already stated or it simply doesn’t add to the general progress of the story and of its protagonists.
I now understand why the editing stage is so important and why it can take so long to complete properly.
I will be honest – I have never spent anywhere near this amount of time editing my previous work and I now realise that that the quality of my finished product must have suffered accordingly.
The problem is, I cannot say that the fourth edit will be the final one, as I always have to re-read the latest draft to make sure that the latest edits actually work. I can’t always see this objectively at the time I make the changes.
The good news is that after suffering a bit of a relapse with my stomach since returning from the UK, six weeks down the line, it finally seems to be settling down again.
when I went England, I was really worried about how my stomach would behave. If it played up too much it would spoil our holiday. I was having visions of running to the loo 4 or 5 times each day and suffering a lot abdominal discomfort, which would have put the severe dampener on our stay.
Strangely, and to my delight, the opposite happened. My stomach behaved impeccably – the best it has been in over two years. Every day when I woke up, I paid a single visit to the loo and my bowel movements were as perfect as I could remember.
It seemed to be a bit of a miracle, but I knew the reason. It wasn’t a change of diet – or climate, it was the elimination of stress. I was happy and content in the UK, and I didn’t worry about how much money I was spending. I put Lek and myself in the hands of my family, trusting them to give us a good time – and they did just that, bless’em.
Within 24 hours of returning to Thailand, my diarrhoea and stomach pains returned with a vengeance. Why? Because the stress was back – the worries over what I will do when the money runs out. The worries over my book and how quickly I can get it edited and wrapped up; and most importantly, will it sell?
Slowly my stomach condition that had all but disappeared when I was in the UK started to relapse and within days I was back where I was before.
That was six weeks ago. But over the past few days, things seem to have settled down again and my bowel is more or less behaving itself.
Why? Well, it’s difficult to explain, but I have been trying very hard to psyche myself out of my stress and to stop worrying too much. It seems to be working, although it’s too early to be 100% sure.
I should add that I still take a mountain of meds, including anti-depressants and Imodium (2 per day) to keep everything under control….
The bad news is that since I returned to Pattaya I have had three worrying dizzy spells. I know what feeling a bit dizzy and light-headed is like. For years I have had ‘hypo’ attacks (low blood sugar) and more recently occasional low blood pressure symptoms both of which cause dizziness and light-headedness.
But these three recent dizzy spells were quite different and much scarier. The first one was the worst; I was standing up in a supermarket, and suddenly everything was going round and I was utterly disoriented. I nearly fell over and grabbed a shelf for support. I found a seat and after maybe 20 – 30 seconds the attack passed and I felt fine.
Since then I have had two further similar attacks while sitting at my desk. It’s difficult to be sure how long these spells last – maybe no more than 5 or 10 seconds – maybe longer.
I really don’t know what to do about it as I have absolutely no trust in the doctors here. They will probably give me a whole host of very expensive tests and end up giving me a misdiagnosis, as they did with my stomach.
Maybe I will wait until I see my GI specialist at the Thai University hospital next month and ask him to recommend someone. I am fairly sure they are not mini-strokes as I have none of the other ‘stroke symptoms’. It may well be an inner ear problem – but what the heck do I know?
Ban the Booze!
A few weeks ago the military government issued two confusing orders. One banned alcohol sales within 300 meters of some schools and universities and a second prohibited all sales “in the vicinity” of all school property.
As you can imagine, this created havoc and alarm amongst the entertainment establishments of Bangkok and in towns further afield – such as Pattaya and Phuket.
Anyone who has spent any time in Thailand will be aware that schools, colleges and other educational establishments abound in every corner of this fair land, which in a way is quite ironic, considering the general standard of education here is pretty abysmal.
But be that as it may, it was immediately apparent to everyone, that should this new order be enforced, many entertainment zones, such as Soi Cowboy and Nana Entertainment in Bangkok and even Walking Street in Pattaya would fall foul of the new regulations.
After much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of the bar owners, pimps, drug dealers, purveyors of alcohol, drug dealers, street vendors, hawkers of fried cockroaches, illegal lottery sellers, child beggars – to say nothing of the thousands of innocent ladies of the night whose families depend on their ‘illegal’ activities for their daily bread, the government announced a bit of a ‘re-think.’
A Deputy Prime Minister told us, “There is still a point that we have to define, which is the word ‘vicinity’. What does ‘vicinity‘ mean? He asked.
The committee is collecting opinions from relevant agencies to reach a clear understanding … It will take about six months.” Yes, you read correctly; a committee will spend six months discussing the word “vicinity”.
So the first order which bans the sale of liquor within 300 meters of some schools and universities remains in effect, and the second order, concerning sales of alcohol “in the vicinity” of all school property has been indefinitely suspended.
I wonder why they didn’t appoint another committee to deliberate what ‘some’ means.
“In the meantime, security officers will have to exercise their judgement, based on appropriateness of the situation,” the Director of the Alcohol Beverage Office, told reporters.
In response, the President of Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association, said the decision to leave enforcement up to the judgment of law enforcement officers was troubling….
We are assured that the Royal Thai Police, the Ministry of Public Health, the Excise Department, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Interior Affairs, and the Ministry for the Distribution of Corruption will be deliberating on weighty matters such as the definition of ‘vicinity.’
(Yes folks, I made the last ‘ministry’ up, but not the rest of them…)
Whither the Thai Economy?
Meanwhile the Thai economy is sliding into the doldrums.
The Commerce Ministry recently announced that the export growth forecast for 2015 had been revised from a 2% growth to a negative growth of MINUS 3%
Added to this, consumer confidence has continued its downward trend, dropping for seven consecutive months and hitting its lowest point in 14 months, according to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC).
Most respondents to the university’s survey felt the economy was now in its worst shape since the great flood of 2011.
The official reasons for all this? According to government officials:
- Weak demand and a drop of 10% in the price of agricultural products, which comprise 70% of Thailand’s GDP
- Slow global economic recovery
- Reduction in car and pickup truck exports, which account for 11% of Thailand’s exports.
The government says nothing about the decline in the tourist industry, which has left hundreds of hotels in Thailand empty and many people in the tourist sector out of work or closing their businesses. They tell us about all the millions of Chinese and other Asian tourists who are coming here, but what they don’t tell you is that these tourists are all in tour groups, and only a very small amount of their spending filters through into the Thai economy.
(Most of the money goes to tour group operators in their home country and to the package hotel chains who provide a full board service.)
Thailand has consistently told the world that it wants to take its tourist industry up-market and attract high-class tourists but has succeeded in doing the opposite. Even the backpackers used put more money into the economy than the working class, penny-pinching Asian tourists do.
And what the Thais never understand is that today’s backpacker is tomorrow’s high-end tourist – as many backpackers are from wealthy families, who are enjoying a ‘gap year’ before college.
The Thai government’s manic efforts to root out undesirables by tightening up the visa rules has led to a large exodus of Europeans from Thailand – ‘semi-residents’ and genuine tourists alike.
Such are the chaotic, unintelligible visa rules that many people cannot be sure they will be allowed to enter the country when they arrive at the airport. I ask you, who wants to spend R & R or have a holiday in a country where there is so much confusion and uncertainty about their right to stay there?
I have lost count of the number of expats I have personally seen leave Thailand over the past year, and the number of expat houses up for rent or sale seems to double every month.
And I haven’t even mentioned other factors. The after effects of the coup, the blatant greed of many Thais in the dwindling tourist sector, the scams, the police corruption, the violent crime, the unsafe roads, the human rights abuses and so on and so forth.
Is it any wonder that expats and tourists are looking elsewhere to spend their hard-earned money?
But even if we discount the troubles in the tourist sector, there is no getting away from the disastrous policies of the previous government which resulted in a collapse in their rice exports, and created the largest mountain of rotten rice anywhere in the world, with a value estimated to be at least 20 billion US Dollars.
Yes – you read it right: $20,000,000,000 or Bht.600,000,000,000 The corruption is on such a massive scale as to be almost beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals. This particular crime was perpetrated by the Thaksin-sponsored government of his sister, Yingluck.
Thailand used to be the world’s largest exporter of rice, and whenever I went to the UK on holiday, I would find that Thai rice was one of the most popular rice products in all the major stores and supermarkets. Everybody I knew bought Thai rice.
On my last two visits, it proved almost impossible to find Thai rice anywhere other than specialist Thai or Chinese food shops, and all my family and friends have long since stopped buying it. (Even the UK-based Thais).
Yet this government regularly assures us that very soon Thailand will once more regain its place as the top rice exporter.
Hmmm…I hope they’re correct.