The Write Word Newsletter — October 2015
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I should have asked him to do my work.
(This fellow, typing away on a manic Yangon street, had extraordinary focus.)

When Life Disconnects Your Writing Keyboard

Somebody help me into the chair—I’ve got to type this thing. Ugh, that’s better. This month’s newsletter will be an odd form of apology for the gone-missing last month’s newsletter, kidnapped by internal terrorists and stolen time. You usually see my screed toward the latter half of the month, but September presented me with an offer I couldn’t refuse: an expenses-paid media trip to mysterious Myanamar.

I’ve been on a few press trips, but never overseas. And I’d never traveled to Southeast Asia at all. Much less to a country whose government had been brutally suppressive for years, restricted outsiders, and that recently had begun to relinquish its iron hand. So, when I was asked if I wanted to go in mid-September, and leave that next week, I gulped and said yes.

I stacked a teetering tower of plans, among them that I’d write my Sept. newsletter on the road.

Silly me. 


Plans? Yes, God Does Laugh

Even if the offer is disruptive, I think writers—at least this one—should say yes to unusual opportunities that are unlikely to happen again. Even if I had to cancel one client book-editing project, delay another, and delay two article submissions. Even if I had to stop the edits on two of my own novels in progress.

But I thought that maybe, maybe even in the whirlwind of a press trip, where you are shunted about to a dizzying array of venues, sights and meals from morning to night, maybe I could dip my hand into some of the work I’d put on hold, so I wouldn’t get too far behind. Well, my hand didn’t get dipped—it got slapped.

Myanmar was fascinating, remarkable, vivid and mesmerizing—and all that could be glanced in just taking a taxi ride from the Yangon (Rangoon) airport to my hotel. Life in Myanmar happens on the streets, and it’s a lot of life. This isn’t the place for the details of my journey, but it was the place that derailed my journey’s follow-up.


Go Away, You Bug Me

We were warned not to drink the water in Myanmar. But man, when you’ve been out trekking amongst ancient pagodas in 90-degree heat and 90-percent humidity, having a restorative gin-and-tonic or two seems just the ticket. But there is the problem of the ice cubes, and their source.

Source ignored.

Who knows if it was the G&Ts or that fish stew I thought wasn’t quite right or one of those malevolent nats (spirits both benign and not so that lurk about all through Myanamar), but after 9 days there, I came back with some kind of bug that had me in the strangest state for the past 10 days or so.

Besides the requisite stomach cramps, there were bouts of disorienting dizziness and sweeping fatigue, that beset me suddenly, so that I spent many days sleeping for hours in the morning or afternoon, and staring at the ceiling at night. Best of all, I couldn’t get in to see a doctor, and my crippled insurance didn’t give me access to any urgent care in the area. So mostly I totted up my symptoms, alternatively coming up with a diagnosis of non-feverish malaria (which doesn’t exist), a razor-toothed parasite, or the general heebie-jeebies.


Peering at the Dusty Desk in the Distance

Work, there was none. I couldn’t concentrate, and the sentences I was forming out of mush wouldn’t stick to the page. But behold, this past weekend, a slumping half-human emerged. It walks, if haltingly. And it types! I’m even getting in to see a doc today to check if I should be put in a capsule underground.

So, forgive me for the omission of last month’s newsletter, and for this one being too focused on internal disquietude. I will return to more targeted writing topics next month.

Oh, would I go on another trip like this one? Yes, but I’m bringing my own ice cubes.


Link Party!


Here are a couple of my most recent publications:

Three Big Island coffee tours are must-stop, must-sips
Drinking killer Kona coffee on the Big Island—be still my beating heart!, published in the San Jose Mercury News, September, 2015.

Route 66: The Mother Road Ends at an Airstream
The fabled Route 66 and the fabled Airstream came about around the same time, and they are both still kicking (though Airstream’s kicking stronger these days). Published in September 2015 in Outside Interests, an online Airstream newsletter. 


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