Monday, February 8

The Sad Truth

Got myself a bout of food poisoning on Saturday, and am still feeling the aftermath. What a waste of annual leave. Gotten back to writing short stories, not playing AION for over a week now (don't ask me why. I'm not even sure myself). So, anyway, I have 9 or 10 stories out there in the world, still waiting for an answer. Five venues have already rejected my stories, including QLRS (the batch I sent late December had good characterization and dialogues, but not much plot -- I'll give them plot, you'll see). Before I prattle on, for any of you who haven't heard of Duotrope, well, here's the wonderful website. It's a database of publishers all around the world (QLRS is also listed, but the database is still empty). There's a comprehensive record of response time, expectations, payment scheme, lists by genre, and a lot more, for both prose and poetry. There's a deadline calendar for those of you who want to write a story based on those deadlines (to minimize response time). Open an account so you can keep track of your submissions, acceptances and rejections. So, anyway. I've sent an epic short story set in an alternate Ancient Egypt (chances of acceptance are good, I think), a hantu raya story (yes, apparently I can do horror too), and Beauty and the Beast in a real-medieval-French setting, among others. Which brings me to the sad truth. Ever since I was small, I dreamed of going overseas (for extended periods of time). I went to the UK when I was almost 2 years old (can't remember anything), Bangkok when I was 7 (I remember the flight, the rubber monkey with the wire-inside -- funny, I can still remember its taste and smell. That's right. Taste. I also remember the tuk-tuk going airborne at this hillock. Mucho fun. In fact, I remember a lot from that trip). Singapore every Raya as a child (no more), Hatyai with Reza's family back in uni (mom gave me hell for it, more of it later), and my last overseas venture was to Perth for 3 weeks after completing my housemanship (now that's a trip I'll always remember). Not that many trips, to be honest. I thought I could study overseas, but when my time came (1998-2000), it was during the recession, so no scholarships were awarded for Ireland/Australia med schools. Even if they did, my grades wouldn't have let me anyway. Now that I've decided to do Neurosurgery for my Master's Degree, I'll be headed back to Kelantan for another 4 years or so (please, no in-campus!). Maybe once (if) I've become a specialist, I can go overseas for conferences and training. I heard specialists have to pay for their own trip, but I also heard they get RM2000 per month as a specialist's allowance. Yay for extra income! So, here's the sad truth: I dream of going far, of experiencing life in ways I've not thought possible, but I'm rooted here. Reza, since working for Expro (American-based petroleum/oil servicing company), has been traveling non-stop to Kemaman, Labuan, Brunei, Aberdeen, and somewhere in Australia. My uncle and his son do a lot of overseas traveling themselves (separately). My brother-in-law studied Engineering in the UK, and my cousins live in Perth. One of my younger cousins did a foreign student exchange program and lived in France for over a year. And my brother, once he's made a name for himself here, is planning to live in New York. I believe he can do it. So how do I experience life outside my skin? My stories. That makes things significantly sadder, no? People comment on how detailed some of my stories are, as if I've written from experience. One word: Google. Well, one more word: Kinokuniya. I've stopped buying books on writing now, because I've discovered that they say the same things, only using different words. I can even write a book of my own. In due time. Once I get properly published. So, what about going on an actual holiday instead of bitching about being stuck here? I can certainly afford an occasional trip, but something inside doesn't let me do it. It's called guilt. When we were little, each and every holiday was done as a family unit; a trip is never complete without one of us. We're close. When I followed Reza's family to Hatyai, mom told me to do it on my own expense (she refused to give monetary support. Thing is, she always gives monetary support, however token). But then, she had this jealousy thing about my being close to Reza's mom. I know, right? I'm not even talking about introducing a girlfriend here. Throughout the trip, I didn't have optimal fun because I kept thinking how much nicer it would be to have my family with me. When I went to Perth (this time mom gave monetary and technical support -- I exchanged my own RM2000 with Australian dollars, and I got around $700. Bummer), I kept thinking how my brother and sister would have liked this place and that to photograph, how my parents would appreciate this view or that. Half the time I felt guilty for doing that solo trip. What's vexing is my brother keeps on making holiday trips with his friends (with monetary support, of course). Have I mentioned he gets away with everything since we were little? Full support, no matter what, and he still gets to screw up. But that's a different matter. So. I can't make solo trips without supreme guilt, and I can't afford to bring the whole family along. So I'm stuck here writing stories that take place in different countries, different times, different worlds. And that, fellow friends, is the sad truth.