Tuesday, March 1, 2016
DONE . . . and done!
AND . . . a quiet drink to celebrate: Long Bar Story (Rough Draft) final chapter written complete . . . . . . now all I gotta do is edit, edit, and edit again - three or four times - throw in some illustrations, because everybody likes to look at pictures while they're reading a book full of words . . . S.L.
A LONG TERM GOAL has been to become a published author, but I never seem to have been able to bring a project to completion. There's always some damn distraction - work, mostly. My work is complex and takes me to some pretty exotic destinations. Finally last summer I had some time on my hands, pulling late night shifts while doing maritime security on the oil platforms in the Gulf of Guinea. And so I started writing the stories that became The Long Bar.
My influences are Somerset Maugham for the tropical locales where his stories take place and his subtle sense of irony, Conrad for the dark, introspective ambiance of his works, and of course Hemingway for his brevity and style. Searching for a plot had me hung up but I was determined not to let that stop me, and so the plot became a writer - in a lush tropical locale - struggling with writer's block, and the stories that unfold around him. I set the end of December for a target end date, then got hung up on the final chapter. It was late November and I simply could not get the thing to go down. I'm deployed right now in fact, in the Congo - the setting for Conrad's Heart of Darkness of course - and its been a rough time. This weekend I decided I'd knock out that last chapter come Hell or High Water, and lo and behold I did it.
Nine chapters, between two to three thousand words each, and each one stands alone as a short story on its own merit, but there is an intertwining common theme and they actually play out in a sort of chronological order. The main character owns & operates an unconventional hotel, located on a jungled cliff overlooking the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand. The hotel is actually a series of traditional Thai houses - baan - interconnected by a series of multi-level decks. In the middle of the hotel is a traditional pub: The Long Bar. People come and go, there are some long term residents, events happen and misadventures play out.
The Long Bar is a working title. I'm considering something else, perhaps "Drops of Rain" - inspired by the Highwayman, by Jimmy Webb and performed by The Highwaymen: Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash. A country song about reincarnation that takes one all the way from a highway robber in old England to the captain of a starship, across the Universe Divide. I have always loved that song.
Themes include adventures that start in the here and now and vector off in other-worldly directions, science fiction, Thai animism, Thai Buddhism, Chinese spiritualism and the Hindu view of the Universe. Humans interface with spiritual beings, often without even being aware of it, and karma drives the action to ironic conclusions. Think Somerset Maugham meets The Twilight Zone. Or rather, YOURSELF - meeting ME - in a traditional pub, at an exotic hotel on a jungled cliff overlooking the Andaman Sea, in southern Thailand.
A question now is how to publish? Traditional book route doesn't pay much, versus ebook format. I'm leaning toward the latter. Since I announced my achievement - a complete manuscript - publishing people are coming out of the woodwork. I'm open to any and all suggestions.
For the record. I have written three books, this is the first one that made it all the way to the end. That means there are two other manuscripts - action/adventure in the kind of places my work takes me, with the kind of people I work for and with - so if a publishing house picks me up, they've got at least two more coming down the pipeline. And when you read my book, you'll be reading a book that was written on an oil platform off the coast of Nigeria, in a luxury hotel in Addis Ababa, snowed in a basement in Pennsylvania, and completed on the veranda of an ancient colonial-era hotel in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
This is why I've been so quiet, and I thank each and every one of you for your support . . .