Comically depressing… Lawrie is trapped in an undisclosed location in southeast Asia. It's undisclosed, as Lawrie is a real life boy, still stuck, still in danger. An illegal alien, through no fault of his own, and now a father for the first time. As a mysterious disease ravages the world outside, Lawrie is trapped on the edge of the jungle and civilization, in the most tribal part of the country with the feral in-laws he now calls family. While trying to teach and help his son to grow, he's constantly battling against the bad habits, tribal practices and the deeply embedded superstitions, passed down over the generations. No matter how futile his attempt would seem, all he can do is try… what could possibly go wrong?
I hope you like reading…
They say, it's all about the first line. So now that's over and done with, hi, my name's Nathan. Originally from the UK, but now (and I've always said this as a bit of a joke, but these days it has new meaning), happily trapped in south east Asia. My almost 9 month old Son is doing just great. My wife's family are certifiably crazy, which wasn't a problem till we started living with them. Unfortunately, it's rubbing off on me, and I'm stuck here between a rock, and a bit of a pickle. Not the place I intended to be, whilst raising my first and probably only child.
Thanks to the madness currently possessing the world, my options, just like most people's, are thin on the ground. But as a foreigner in this country, with no government bail out like I'd be getting back home, I expect I'm currently somewhere towards the top end of the world's poverty chart… I've chosen not to openly disclose where I am exactly, as publishers in this country need to exercise a very careful caution, and the laws here regarding slander and defamation of character, mixed up with my legal status, could end up making my situation much worse. I'm not trying to cast a negative light on this place, but it might sometimes seem that way, with how I write about it. I love this place, I just hate this situation and feel so helpless.
I realise I may also at times sound very unappreciative. That's because I am... my body doesn't appreciate white rice every meal of every day. And though I'm used to picking things out of my food, when bugs are a part of the recipe, it feels a bit rude. My lungs don't appreciate the smell of burning bottles every night, and I'm sick of moving the big piles of plastic that mount up outside the room where my son sleeps. I'm also not too keen on the kitchen knife under his pillow, this turned up there, not because of my wife's heavy hands waking him up in tears, but the bad dreams caused by the ghosts. And even though we all know the only way to scare a ghost away is with cutlery, I think I'd prefer a bad dream every once in a while, than one time having a kitchen knife lodged in my neck.
All this being said, I have chosen, for many reasons (and very few alternatives), to ride this out as long as possible for the sake of my Son. The book I am writing explains my situation, and by reading it you should be able to fill in the very odd, small gap. But if not, fire me a message and we'll have a chin-wag.
In a nutshell, I was robbed of the money for my renewal of a very important document by a tour operator. Due to my own naivety, and being busy working in a different city, it was almost 3 months before I realised there was a problem. At the time, my wife was pregnant, and the little money I had was to take care of the hospital bill. After taking some bad advice, I scraped together $500 and paid someone who's family are high up in government and the police, to sort the problem out (at the time, the standard practice was to lock people up waiting for someone back home to cough up). Now, I'm down an extra $500, and the document I need to pass through ports is nowhere to be seen. Which is a bit of a worry. I've been here long enough, seen it all before, and by now have learnt that there's nothing much I can do to sort this, without having the cash to pay the overstay. And going to my embassy wouldn't do any good either, they can't help me out of this, not if I don't have the funds.
The area we now live in is very rural, nothing but farmland for miles around. My skill set is absolutely useless out here. I've spent most of my time in this country working in tourism, mainly managing guesthouses, a skill I'm very thankful for being able to pick up. At the time the world began to fall apart, I was project managing the build of an eco-resort. I wasn't making much, but the potential was there. My manager made the right decision at the time, and cut his losses. A few months later my wife gave up and went back to her parents while I kept trying. But when she told me her and her family (that day there were 5 people not including children), were sharing 2 eggs between them, I decided to come back too. I know what these people are like, and can't let my son grow up like them.
When he was born, I was told it would be 6 weeks before we could get out and back to work. It had been 2 months when I was told the in-laws wanted us to go back to work, leaving my child here. Another month later and they finally got the message. There's no way I'm leaving my boy with a man who gives 3 year olds energy drinks at 8am, while the rest of the family spend their time beating and screaming at him as he's got too much energy, or is crashing from the sugar. This poor boy has all black stumps for teeth on the top row, no pants on all day as he rolls around in the dirt people have been pissing in, and takes worming tablets. This boy, does not need energy drinks. Grandma, loves giving the 22 month old, the dregs of her antihistamine medicine. It tastes nice, so it must be good. Ma can't read the back of packets, instructions or warnings.
Now, the only real option I have is farm work on the family plot. I did this last time we were here when our son was born, usually earning somewhere between $3.75 & 7.50 every 2 days. This time of year, the farm is out of season. Once this years crop is ready, the total worth of the farm's produce will be around $5.00 every 2 days as the 1st month creeps by. This time around, as it looks like I'll be staying for the foreseeable future, I've got to come up with a real plan, I can't put up with this much longer. I used to be vegetarian, and though we're surrounded by farms, I haven't seen a vegetable in 10 days. Now I eat fish heads.. the cheeks, the brains, their faces. I give the eyes to my wife's brothers…I had to draw the line somewhere.
My only way of making a decent wage out here, is to work online. Ideally I'd like to teach English. But most of the day, we're in a black hole for data connection, and with the lack of a certain document, signing up as a teacher isn't possible anyway.
So what's the plan? Well, I guess I'll carry on clutching at straws, keep writing the book, prepare the land for this years harvest and raise the boy. Plenty to keep me busy, but I need way out of this, before my boy grows up like his feral cousins. I feel like I'm living in a George Orwell book, and I don't mean 1984, that's the outside world. We're still stuck on Animal Farm.
I always thought I'd be somewhere in my 50s/60s, when I finally thought about penning my first book. When I had something to write about, and my fingers couldn't handle playing music any longer... As it turns out, I have plenty to write about, and it's spilling out with ease. I've always written, but a novel seemed a little too daunting to even think about. I wouldn't like to guess just how many songs I've written since my first, 25 years ago (which was terrible, and I hate that I still remember it). But the 2 albums trapped in my head are pretty good, at least I recon so. Hopefully they will see the light of day, at some point in the future.
I started the novel on the night of the 21st December 2020, and as of today - 29th Dec, I'm over the 10,000 word marker (though I've been doing a daily, rough edit as I go, I've been advised to try and avoid this, but I wanted the intro to be somewhat polished for upload). I'm hoping to entice some of you in, with the first few chapters. If it's something you're into, super duper. I'm looking for 'donations', to help my family out of this situation, but all donors will receive a copy of the book when finished, and after it's final edit.
A little can go a long way out here, and anything would be much appreciated as I'm raising my little champ. The link to the funding site can be found below, or by clicking here.
If you're not able to spare anything, no worries, but do keep checking back to my blog as (and don't quote me on this), I'll probably be adding to and updating as I go, up to the point of a ghastly cliffhanger, obviously, nerr... Once I've finished writing and editing, anyone who's helped out will be sent a link to download an e-book copy, and if and when I'm lucky enough to have it published in printed form, each will receive a copy of that in time, a few things depending. All will get a mention in both copies on a dedication page as a huge thank you (unless requested otherwise). And I'd like to offer people the chance to leave an inspirational message/joke/clue to where buried treasure may be hidden, or of course, just absolute nonsense, for the outside world to read alongside their dedication. Heck, use it to promote your auntie's dog wash service, see if I care. Could be quite interesting, and sounds like fun to me.
At the rate that I'm writing, I expect to be in the final editing stage by about mid February.
The novel is written as a fiction, but at the same time, is almost completely autobiographical. Names and places have been changed to help protect our safety here, but the story, and its characters are real. I can promise that, as I'm living it.
And just before I get back to work, I must say… I know that sometimes my use of punctuation, Capitals, and commas, may be a little unorthodox,,, but just so you know, I do know most of what I'm doing wrong, I did fairly well in school (not so bad)… but, I knew better… and still think that I might. And besides, I've got some good friends back home with already published work, who are going to help with the final cut… I've not pestered them so much as of yet, and what's down currently, is me with very little coaching, but with a little help from my friends, in the end, it'll brush up alright. Any questions, comments or advice would be more than welcomed, you can find my email address below.
Oh, and no matter how important the first line of a story must be, I just couldn't help myself… A tongue-in-cheek nod to my future self, hopefully showing how far I've come. I'm sorry, you'll get over it.
Thank you for reading, you're welcome to carry on, and I hope you do.
[The light that shines from within me, bows to the light that shines within you]
NOTE TO POTENTIAL PUBLISHERS
I know for any publisher, having a plot outline is very important and often essential for most first time authors. Although I am a true 'pantser' in life in general and writing this whilst in the thick of it, day by day. I do have my main outline. The middle marathon (with all potential real life disasters averted), being based on one or more of the many fears I have for the future, and twists in the plot coming from actual past events which have happened to me whilst being here. But as I say, this is all providing nothing major happens as I'm writing, and with all that's happened here already, would be an unexpected, and highly unlikely surprise. I have also been writing daily outlines, more detailed and over a smaller time frame, for the following days work. I will happily provide the main plot outline, and an up-to-date manuscript upon request. Nice one.