Sunday, October 14, 2012

City of Angels

I'm in Bangkok now—in Thai, Krung Thep, or city of angels—dragging my ass through the day while I wait for my mind to catch up with me.

This is the most brutal jet lag I know.  It's 1 PM here now, which means it's 11 PM in Los Angeles.  This is fine; no problem.  It's when it's 6 PM here and 3 am in LA that I begin to feel like I'm a different species than the people around me – older, slower, grumpier, more lizard-brained.

I mistake 500-baht bills for 100-baht bills and am constantly being chased out of stores by people waving change at me.  I spend quite a bit of time looking for something I just put down.  I lose at Hearts every time I play.  It's nearly enough to make me feel compassion for the fury most inanimate objects harbor for the fast-moving; I can almost empathize with coat hangers.

And I'm here to write a book.  I can't even keep my thumb off the CAPS LOCK key, much less make a sentence.  Doing this little blog is like giving blood.  To someone I don't like.

On the other hand, I get reminders via email that I actually have written books in the past.  I just learned that THE FEAR ARTIST, a story I barely remember at the moment, has been named one of the best crime thrillers of 2012 (so far, anyway) by Deadly Pleasures magazine, a publication for which I have considerable respect.  People in mystery bookstores who have read the ARCs of CRASHED and LITTLE ELVISES have written to say how much they like Junior Bender.  These people read a lot of books.

So this, too, will pass.  I actually wrote five of my first six books here, in a coffee shop called the Tip Top on the infamous Patpong Road.  It was at the Tip Top that I first met the eight- or nine-year-old chewing gum vendor who eventually became Miaow in the Poke Rafferty books.  I've written some good sentences in Bangkok.

But not today, and probably not tomorrow.

So what does one do when one can't write but has taken a public vow to write daily?

One writes crap.

So far I've made a total botch out of three scenes, one of which is quite delicate and, if written properly will be an emotional pivot of the new Poke, FOR THE DEAD.  As it stands right now, it wouldn't wring a tear from the Mock Turtle.  It couldn't be less emotional if I'd written it entirely in numbers.

On the other hand, I've gotten a few characters from point A to point B or even C.  I know how they get there now, even if I don't know how to make it work.  But it's a little like exploring a wilderness; a bumpy road or even a rutted path is better than nothing at all.  Smoothing and widening it, and making it interesting, can come later.  For the moment, I can take comfort in the fact that the characters found their way there, without violating who they are.

Now all I have to do is wait for the city of Angels to send me an angel who will take charge of my prose style.  Until I get it back, anyway.


  1. Sounds like a "real fun trip," Tim! But store this feeling deep inside... you know it will be useful at some point when Poke gets REALLY run-down, haggard and at the end of his rope. You already know how he feels. :-)

  2. Personally, I like you this way, Tim. Especially when you ask me to break a twenty for a fifty. It make you almost as mortal as the rest of us:). Congrats again on the DP accolade for TFA.

  3. I can just see you there, with all that wonderful food, and your great ideas. Be gentle with yourself for a few days. I'm not a world traveler, but I hear it gets better. I expect we'll hear more about TFA's success as time goes on.