June in Thailand means it’s finally cooling down and we’re into the rainy season–so 95 degrees instead of 100+ every day, and lots of regular showers to keep the air clean. I’ve been bouncing around, I’m so happy. THE SKY IS BLUE AND LIFE IS WONDERFUL!
Other than the weather, here’s what’s up:
Now that I can breathe, I’m back to work and revising a couple projects–one for me, and one for Ink Monster ; ) Quanta Reset is really coming along and our new team editor is amazing, so expect good things in September!
2. America bound!
I’ll be back in America before Reset releases. I’ve loved my time in Thailand, but I’m looking forward to being on home soil for a while. I’ve been in Asia for most of the time since January 2012, when I first moved to Taiwan. I totally wasn’t planning to be abroad so long. So many bagels to eat to make up for lost time!
My ten-year college reunion was this weekend and I missed it. But I didn’t really miss anything. I’m still close with my four closest friends from the good old class of 2006, and as much as it would be fun to see what everyone else has been up to, I’m okay with losing touch with acquaintances. Being abroad has definitely taught me that the important people make time for you, and you have to do the same. Otherwise, it’s okay to grow apart–there just isn’t time to stay friends with everyone. Plus, reunions are weird.
Best of the class of 2006! They couldn’t get rid of me if they tried.
I backed Niche on Kickstarter and have been playing the alpha game–it is so cute and it’s exactly the kind of repetitive fun I like as a break from writing. I’ll let you all know when the final version goes live on Steam. Until then, I’ll be busy trying to breed purple tiger-striped antler babies.
I’m not the biggest fan of the term digital nomad, but I’ve used it before and it does apply to me most of the time, so I’m kind of stuck with it. It actually fits most writers—we can write from wherever as long as we’ve got a laptop and the occasional Internet connection to send our files along to beta readers and agents and editors.
But so few fiction writers are into this digital nomad subculture. Bopping around cafes and coworking spaces in Asia, I rarely run into anyone involved in fiction. There are always a few characters who want to write a book, but few are actually making a living writing—most do marketing, social media, tech, design, or other businessy things I can’t explain in less than a paragraph. The writers are almost always bloggers, freelance editors, or travel writers who are into more of the non-fiction side of life. Which isn’t to say that fiction nomads don’t exist…they just don’t necessarily use the same labels or advertise themselves as such.
This puzzles me, but I somewhat understand. Writing fiction isn’t as reliable as say a freelance graphic design business or as official sounding as a tech startup, and advances and royalties are low, especially when you’re just starting out. It would be a terrible idea to fly to Chiang Mai or Ubud or Medellin or wherever the kids are going these days with a book idea and plans to start writing and making a living. You’d run out of money before you left the airport. But established writers?
This is the life, man. Even for a writer firmly at mid-list, what you earn can go so much farther in Asia or South America. My Thai apartment with cleaning service costs less than $300 a month. It’s not glamorous by any means, but it’s clean and located in cafe central, so it checks all my boxes.
Most fiction writers just aren’t plugged into the idea of going mobile. It’s fine for me to galavant around—I’m single and my parents let me crash with them when I’m stateside as long as I keep them swimming in homemade pasta and quiche. I know a lot of other writers, and few of them are in my demographic. Most have kids and/or spouses, house payments, and are otherwise locked into wherever they are. Or they think they are. I think more could make the switch to this kind of lifestyle, but haven’t considered it, or just aren’t interested.
I wish more fiction writers would branch out and hit the road, partially for selfish reasons. I’d love to have a buddy or two to write around with and join in my cafe-hopping habit.
Given, being away from home isn’t the greatest. I can’t contact my family that often and I’m perpetually out of the loop with what my friends and relatives are up to in their lives. Even so, I think giving that up (at least temporarily) is a fair trade for what you can get out of the nomad lifestyle. I’m so much more creative when I’m on the road, and experiencing other cultures always gives me new insights into what I’m putting on the page. And for a foodie like me, this is heaven. Yeah, I can get Thai food at home, but little roadside buffets that sell MSG-coated Chinese/Japanese/Vietnamese/Thai fusion food can’t hold a candle to the real thing. I’m getting so spoiled by curries cooked to order and perfectly mixed Thai teas.
This lifestyle isn’t for everyone and it’s not forever, but I’m digging it in the short term. If you’re out there wondering how to make it work, drop me a message. I’m all for getting more you genre fiction peeps out into the world, and I’m happy to co-sign the decision to leave the country if you’re having doubts.
I’m writing this from my coworking space—Hubud, in the center of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. Wild, huh?
Ever since I became a writer, I’ve never focused only on my writing. I always had part-time jobs and day jobs taking my attention. Even when I was between gigs, I was focusing on the next thing…and a distracted Lola does not prioritize getting her daily words written.
Now I’m taking a month away from everything—I’m not working and not looking for work, and I don’t even have a TV in the villa I’m renting. After a year of strenuous, full-time editing, this is my reward to myself: unadulterated writing time.
Writing on my terrace–I could get used to this!
I’ve wasted months with worrying and have barely written a word, so this month, I’m setting concrete goals to make sure I get the most of this precious time.
I’m targeting 3,000 words a day.
Given that I have 24 hours of no scheduling, it should be easy. Even though it’s a steeper hurdle than NaNo pace, I have all the time in the world…piece of cake, right?
Not exactly. I still struggle when I’m not sure where the scene is going, or what themes I want to get across. I might do 500 words in half an hour, or four hours, depending on the state of my focus.
So far, I’m eking it out. If I keep up the pace, I’ll knock off my current novella, and be well on the way to finishing the novel I’ve been toying with for ages. That’s right where I want to be.
I’m hoping that as time goes on and I get used to the rhythm here, my productivity will spike. Can I do 4k a day? 5k? I’ll post about coworking later, but I’m finding the environment super stimulating—the people, workspace, and Bali itself.
Giving myself time to write feels both rewarding and validating. I think we often call ourselves writers, but don’t take it seriously, or are too afraid to take it to a full-time level. I still have doubts, but I’m enjoying my test run,and hitting my word goals is reassuring. I really could crank out the books like a pro, if only I gave myself a chance.
To my writer friends out there, I’m guessing you can do it too.
Have faith, and don’t be afraid to take your goals seriously.
After spending so much time in Taipei, I naturally use it as my yardstick for other cities. I always thought it was easy being a foreigner in Taiwan, but Hong Kong is Westerner paradise—EVERYTHING is in English, so I didn’t have to break out my shoddy Mandarin to point at menu pictures. Even as a confused tourist, getting around was a (theoretical) breeze. It’s my own fault that I can’t see or read road signs—but hey, this gave me 95% more opportunities to be offered massages.
And such diversity! In Taiwan you can go the day without seeing a foreigner, but I couldn’t tell you how many languages I heard in Hong Kong. Causeway Bay was a great base for exploring town, and I did the obligatory tram to The Peak, plus a quiet afternoon trip to Chi Lin Nunnery and the Nan Lian gardens. I sat down to get some writing done, but the security guard said “using that device is not suitable.” Oh well! Instead, I parked at fun cafes, and spent a day coworking at The Hive, which is across the street from a fabulous Indian vegetarian restaurant (Khana Khazana). Give me writing time and a spicy curry, and I’m a happy girl.
Hong Kong tranquility, chaos, and noms
Certain parts of Hong Kong are so similar to areas in Taipei, but I think I prefer Taiwan for the long haul. Hong Kong may be more foreigner-friendly by nature, but Taiwan is actually friendly, and Taiwanese people are much more polite than their HK counterparts. In the overall atmosphere of chaos, I think I’d lose it if I had to deal with that level of line cutting and pushing every day. Plus, my empirical evidence suggests that the milk tea in Taiwan is better than the Milk Tea in Hong Kong–and I am the expert on such things.
Even though I was only in town for a handful of days, I had a blast and got tons of work done. Now I better stop blogging and finish my next novella before I get in trouble : )