Saturday, July 12, 2008

Getting Ready for Change

Change in my writing life is coming – I can feel it. Call it the law of cause and effect, the law of sowing and reaping, or even the law of attraction. It’s happening, and I’m trying my best to get ready for this change. To accept it with open arms and not stress myself out trying to cope with new demands on my writing time, compounded by a full time job and two toddlers demanding my full attention. Just ask, believe and receive. The universe will provide, or so they say. It’s a matter of faith.

On Monday I got only one piece of mail and it was from National Writers Association informing me that my novel The Lonely Affair of Jonathan Brady won fourth place in their 2008 Novel contest. This may open up a few agents’ doors. More importantly, it tells me that my novel is on the right track – two readers’ scoring checklists confirm this, since I received an average score of 91.5. Also, back in April I spent a month heavily revising that version and I’m in the midst of revising it yet again, having started last week, which means the novel is even better, even closer to publication. This too is a matter of faith.

On Tuesday, after someone left, I got put in charge of a second course at UNIMAS. This is not necessarily a good thing, though it will force me to get better organized and use better time management skills, and this will carry over into my writing life. On Wednesday it was confirmed that the third version of Lovers and Strangers Revisited (MPH, now with 17 stories) will be coming out in late July, and not August, and that my introduction by Eric Forbes for his MPH Breakfast Club in Kuala Lumpur will be on July 26. On Thursday, I agreed to give a reading at Seksan’s Design with Sharon Bakar later that same afternoon.
Below is Eric’s blog announcing all this along with the new cover (above):
The 15th MPH Breakfast Club on Saturday, July 26, 2008, at 11.00a.m. to 12.30p.m., will be featuring short-story writer Robert Raymer, the author of Lovers and Strangers Revisited (MPH Publishing, 2008). In this collection of 17 stories, Kuching-based Raymer portrays the traditional in modernity, the unexpected in relationships both familiar and strange, and the recurring theme of race even as contemporary Malaysia finds ways to understand its multicultural milieu.

In the title story, a selfish writer gets more than he bargained for when former lovers haunt him in more ways than one. In another story, a man's loneliness turns into obsession when he shares a taxi ride with a Malay woman. A Clark Gable lookalike is a barrister wannabe with a shocking secret and gossipy neighbours reveal more about themselves than the man who commits suicide. Elsewhere, expats cross the border to Had Yai to experience a good bargain in the Thai flesh trade before going home to their wives in America.

In this republished edition of Lovers and Strangers Revisited, Raymer's snapshots of scenes from various walks of life provide an insider-outsider view on love, family and culture, and urges a second look at ourselves in the mirror of self-awareness.

Eric Forbes will be introducing Robert Raymer while Janet Tay will be moderating the session.Date July 26, 2008 (Saturday)Time 11.00a.m.-12.30p.m.Venue MPH Bangsar Village II Lot 2F-1 (2nd Floor), Bangsar Village II, No. 2 Jalan Telawi 1, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaPhone (603) 2287 3600 Food and refreshments will be served

All lovers of literature are most welcome Robert Raymer will also be doing a reading at readings@seksan's at 3.30p.m. on the same day. Seksan Design is at No. 67 Jalan Tempinis Satu, Lucky Garden, Bangsar, 59100 Kuala Lumpur

Praise for LOVERS AND STRANGERS REVISITED'Raymer not only writes from his own viewpoint as a foreigner and observer, but also delves into the minds of a desperate Malay woman, a young Indian girl, an adulterous Chinese couple, and an old Chinese man who survived the Japanese occupation ... He has an uncanny ability to hold a mirror up to the people of his adopted country, not as a foreigner but as one of us. His stories are full of personalities that you know—you work with them, or live next door to them, or eavesdrop on them at the kopi tiam.' The Borneo Post

'This account ("On Fridays") of a crammed ride with strangers in a taxi may well stand as a metaphor of Raymer's own experience of living among Malaysians .... He imbues each of the characters in his stories with a realistic, genuinely believable voice even as he tempers it with the valuable perspective of an observer.' New Straits Times

Raymer gives a lushly and rich and multi-layered rendition of the Malaysian way of life as coloured and influenced by his own experiences from his twenty years as an expat here .... These stories are some of the few authentic portrayals of the inner workings and inner plays of the average Malaysian's life in all of its robustness and unique cultural settings.' The Expat

Robert Raymer was born in the U.S. and has lived in Malaysia for over 20 years. His fiction and nonfiction have been widely published. He currently lives in Sarawak where he teaches creative writing at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.

--Posted By Eric Forbes to eric forbes's book addict's guide to good books at 7/01/2008 05:12:00 AM

Then Julia Tan of MPH asked me on Thursday to do a booktalk at MPH Spring in Kuching in August 17, at MPH Gurney Plaza in Penang August 30 (yet to be confirmed), and possibly a workshop in K.L. in August as part of their Local Authors' Month (she’s getting back to me on this).

In Penang, end of August, I’ll be doing a creative writing workshop at Institute Perguruan Persekutuan P.Pinang on Friday, 29th (confirmed on Friday, too), for PELLTA on Saturday, 30th, and giving a reading at Little Street Penang Market on Sunday, 31st. Also today I was asked to give a reading with several other writers with Words-Worth II at Bing! on August 3rd, which is incidentally my birthday. Phooi Kheng and Nic, my website designers and who have been nudging me in this success-oriented direction since 2006, are in Kuching that week, and I know they have big plans for me and my website.

Friday evening I attended my second meeting at Toastmasters, which my new friend Donna is nudging me to join, and where I met Tony whom I played tennis with twenty-one years ago in Penang. On Saturday and Sunday Jenny and I are attending the Rainforest World Music Festival, for the third year in a row!

Last night we ran into Earl, a friend from Hawaii, James, a friend from New Zealand, and Rob, a friend formerly of Kuching and visiting from the Gulf, whose son played base in the first group. Also bumped into one of my creative writing students from last semester, also Maggie who interviewed me for the Borneo Post last year, plus five members from Toastmasters. In the July 2008 issue of The Writer there was an article on why writers should join Toastmasters, which I’m now seriously considering. The networking and socializing alone is great.

Julita, a former tennis playing friend and ex-creative writing student, is visiting Kuching from Penang so we’ll see her at The Rainforest Festival tonight plus a host of other people too, no doubt an ex-writing student or two – last year had one visiting from K.L. and I have a feeling she’ll be back. Music and writing, now that’s a good combination.

This coming Monday, classes will begin for the new semester…but that will be another week. It can wait. I want to enjoy the present for now and try to get a handle on all this change that’s taking place this week in my life. I have a feeling, this is only the begin­ning, and I really need to get ready for change.
***Here the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.


MayaKirana said...

Hi Robert
Good to know great changes are in store. How the big move to Kuching is making you more resourceful, more excited again. As for website changes, yes, let's talk about enabling you to sell your books and stories online! That's the next step anyway. Look forward to being in Kuching and meeting Gette and helping you celebrate your birthday. And we'll see you again end August in Penang then.

BorneoExpatWriter said...

Thanks - yes,
Just got to pace myself. Focus on KL now, Kuching in August, and then Penang, and still get some writing done. The more hectic life becomes the better organized you need to be; and because of that you might even get more done, since less time is wasted. It amazes me what you can get done in 15 minute snatches here and there, and then several times a day they add up to an extra hour or two of work.