Friday, February 08, 2008

Writers in Bangkok

I went to an organised lunch yesterday. (No comments about ‘ladies who lunch’ please!)

We had a speaker, Anette, come from the Bangkok Women’s Writers Group to promote their book ‘Bangkok Blondes’ which was published about two months ago. I knew her already from bookcrossing.

Most of the books written by farangs (westerners) published here in Bangkok are tales by men of men falling in love with bar girls or how they ended up in the Bangkok Hilton (prison). They don’t have much kudos. Some may be self published and most aren’t of a very high standard.

‘Bangkok Blondes’ is published by Bangkok Book House and according to local media is doing rather well (sorry, English understatement happening there) It’s doing very well. The blurb says: “Very few books on Thailand are written by women. Bangkok Blondes is one of the first. It reflects the lives of creative women who live and write in Thailand – *The Bangkok Women’s Writers Group.”

It also says “The BWWG* … has been meeting in bars, coffee shops and shopping malls twice monthly since 2000…”

So why have I never told you all about it? Well, I’ve been. I went about 18 months, maybe two years ago and I went two or three times. The reason I gave, when asked why I didn’t continue to go, was because I didn’t like it.

I think I felt a fraud. I didn’t feel like a writer … and I do … a bit … now. Back then, the idea of showing anyone anything I’d written appalled me. But I’ve done that now and while it's scary, so far no-one’s said ‘blimey JJ, you’re a crap writer.’

I’ve been toying about going back and so today I asked Anette to put me on the mailing list again. I will report back how I got on. It would be great to meet other writers in Bangkok, now that I feel a bit more qualified.


Pacha said...

Oh thats brilliant! You're part of the BWWG! And I am so pleased you feel more qualified! Because you are, you know!

Yvonne said...

Brilliant, I feel the same way as you like someone is going to catch me out or something, but I definitely think you can do it. Have also joined a group that is meeting in March...very scared about it!

SueG said...

You're very brave! It's hard enough showing your stuff to one or two people you know well and trust, but a group like that....that is tough. Well done. And of coure you're qualified. You're here, aren't you? x

hesitant scribe said...

I think it's a great thing to do. And you are qualified!

Lane said...

Course you're qualified!
BWWG sounds like a good group to be part of.

JJ said...

Thank you Pacha. I do feel a bit more, well, real.

Yvonne, thank you too. I feel less like I'm going to be found out these days, though I expect that feeling will come and go still for a bit. Do tell us about your group when you've met.

SueG, Hmmm, I haven't been and shown them yet! I'm hoping to be brave when the time comes.

Lisa, thank you.

Lane, thank you too. I hope so.


wordtryst said...

At what point does one feel like an authentic writer? I know I still don't, even though I'm more confident than I used to be.

Don't know if I'd have the nerve to watch my writing being eviscerated by a writing group, though. Like Sueg said, you're very brave. I think that's a fear I'll have to overcome by just doing it. Stare the beast in the face.

AK said...

I'm very intrigued and informed by this post and by you as an ex-pat in Thailand. (I just googled up your blog.) I was in BKK last week and attended the last meeting of BWWG to show them my book and to ask them how they are promoting theirs. I can tell you that they are scared too. They don't read their stuff aloud to each other. (Not like the group I belonged to here in the SF Bay Area where we did and I could feel exactly where my piece needed work even before they gently eviscerated me.) One of the BWWG writers explained that she preferred that people react to her writing on the page and not to her reading it. There's pros and cons to that too. The quality of the writing of the four who were there was high, but that doesn't mean they are any more writers than you are. I know what you mean though about feeling like a fraud and being British you are up against all that training that says you have to have a Ph.d before you can have an opinion. (I'm speculating this from my Brit mother.) I recommend taking a tip from the American entrepreneur and just make a business card with the word "writer" on it then "just do it" to borrow that tired phrase of a certain transnational corporation I don't buy shoes from. But having said all that you can see from my expression here that I'm not quite sure, myself, how the whole writer thing sits on me even after 20 years of working on this book. Really hope to meet you and other writers in BKK when I come through again. Meanwhile nice to meet you here JJ.

AK said...

Hello again. My inner critic wanted to come back and retract my use of the hackneyed Nike phrase and describe what I was really envisioning. Which is to take that business card into the world and leave it somewhere, on the sky train or on a Starbucks coffee table or something, then after you get used to how that feels, hand it to some one you don't know and then live up to the role. Practice.