When you create a story you start with the structure, the idea, the hope. It is never easy and it is always a challenge to go from zero but you are not going from zero. You are starting from your experience and he possibilities that exist and are informed by who you are, where you are going and what that means.
Today I start with a foundation built from what if, today I start with watching, observation and the human condition. That is the beating heart of every story. It is what gives me the power to take the steps I need to see, to feel, to be and to write.
So you never start with zero, you start with emotion and I start with joy. I start with hope. I start with a mission to craft here and now something worth reading, something worth being and something worth existing.
This is the journey, this is the mandate and this is why I write who I am and what I want to be. So it doesn’r have to start with some grand beginning but maybe it just starts with a single moment. Maybe it starts with waking up to the day.
So these are the words I wrote yesterday and this is where I begin as I start to go not from zero, not from nothing but to somewhere.
Speed is my weapon, momentum is the edge and maneuverability is the skill that makes me move. I hear the music in the vacuum so that I become the ship as it is me so I can dance in the home of the stardust.
Ever since I first felt my feet lift off the ground all I’ve wanted to do was go higher, faster and further. To reach up and discover where we have not set foot so I can make a mark to remembered and revered.
There are so many people who have made the last few years worth while and where do I start but with the people I first met that have taught me about kindness and self-worth, that have been an ear when before I had none. Who have shown me that our value isn’t defined by what you do but who you are and how you choose to see the world.
To Pascal who I met in the summer of 2013 as we were both in Bangkok at the time and who I would see again a few weeks later in Khao Tao. He was young, idealsitic and searching for who he was but had more courage than I could ever muster and I envy him for it.
To Shazaan Bahrainwala who I met randomly through couchsurfing which led to a few nights out on Khaosan road. He’s a great chap, with great stories and not afraid to meet people unlike myself.
To Anna from Sagion, you were quiet when we met in Bangkok and it was awesome seeing you a few months later in your hometown. Thank you for showing me around, for your kindess and the buffet. It was amazing.
To David Tjemerlang who hosted me when I was in Medan, you were generous to a fault which I didn’t deserve and that was the first time when I shaved my head. It was a privilage to meet you and your friends and that was my first time couchsurfing with anyone and if I learned anything is that I will repay the kindness shown to me to any who cross my path.
To my boy Mike who I met in Taiwan who was learning to speak Mandarin and whose suggestion to learn muay thai changed my travels more than I could have thought possible.
I have to give my thanks and gratitude to Bee the owner of Charn Chai Muay Thai for putting up with more for over a year and a half. I remember when I first got to your gym. I saw everyone training and I walked back to town and waited till I had the courage to go begin to learn muay thai. It has been a life changing experience, it has helped me do something I never thought I could do.
I remember seeing the guys fighting when I first arrived and thinking that could never be me but that’s what happened and I will have to go back for another go because I have 2 wins and 2 losses so you know I have to own up to it and tip the scales in my favour without question.
Thanks Ryan for spending those times with me before you left to train me at the gym, I sucked but I kept con coming and that was half the battle. I learned that I had discipline to spare and could bring it to bear.
To Arcangelo, my crazy Italian friend (what other kind are there), he is your brash and a fighter at heart. He has the spirit the blazes in the dark and a passion that can’t be matched. If you ever fight I will find a way to be there because it will be an epic showdown. I hope you are doing well and see you back in Pai at some point.
To Daniel and Geir, it was nice living with you Daniel, it was great chatting with you among the chaos we had in the last few months and chatting about philosophy and random things. Geir what can I say about my broken friend I will always remember you as the cripple because you could barely walk when you came back to Pai the second time.
Hey Annamoon how is school treating you so far? Hope all is well and that you get a chance to return and see how far you can push the envelope
So James how are those camels treating you in Australia? hope you can do your training and do what you always wanted to.
Gotta say can’t wait to see Mango Dave fight it out in the muay thai ring this summer man. It was great having a canuck at my first fight so long ago. I think that is the only video of me fighting at all which is probably a good thing.
To Paco I think we were all jealous of your abs and your impressive ability to party and train the next day. I’ll always remember those words you told me after my second fight when you had just gotten back. How you said you never thought I would do it and that you were proud. That meant because I never thought I could either and sometimes it is good to hear that you can prove people wrong, that your fate isn’t written, it is defined by you as much as it is through anyone else.
To Louie, Bee and Kerrie-Anne’s then baby and now toddler it was an honour seeing you go from a baby to a future Lumpinee champion and the next in line for your Dad and brother’s muay thai name.
To Andrew who is editing a video back in England, such a nice guy whose experience I envy as I try to find a way to tell a story of my own.
To Sammie the secret lethwei champ I can’t wait to see a video of you in the ring with no gloves. I will cringe as I see those hits but I know you will give as good as you get and win with the will and power of a true fighter in every sense of the word.
Hey Kate who I saw at Mountain Bar and later lived next door too. You are so kind and have an ability to connect with people which is a skill I wish I could steal so I could do the same.
To Adam the Austrialian marine who last I talked to had ended up in England, you are an inspiration for what you could do. I remember you leaving and always wished you came back to get into the ring maybe next time.
Hey Annemoon how is school treating you so far hope you get a chance to explore the world again and make it back to Pai at some point along the way.
Hey Nikita, we never did hang out that much but it was great meeting you and seeing how you could make a place your own. I always stayed so closed off you remind me to open up and not be afraid to just be yourself and screw those haters.
Then there’s Bami who has to put up with all us who suck at muay thai while he was always preparing for the next fight. It was awesome seeing you take it to them every time you were on Max Muay Thai.
Another one on the muay thai banner is Dan whose commitment to the sport, your focus and passion is evident every time I saw you train.
To Joey man meeting another diabetic on the crazy muay thai journey was nice and I hope you do come back to fight one day.
Hey Raul, I’m so proud of how much you had grown from when you got to Charn Chai Muay Thai not just in the ring but as a man. I hope you go back home with a new focus on who you are and what you want to do.
To Guy who cornered my last fight and who was such a good dude. I didn’t know you all that well but you have a brain for the ring and a passion that is infectious.
To Ju from South Korea I hope your script is going well and that it is a way for your to focus yoru creative energy. I know your time in Pai has ended but I hope you find whatever it is you are looking for out there.
So Mathias, how is the hand and hope you are back to kicking the bag but be careful about those hard heads next time.
Hey June how are you in South America, I can only hope I can be as open to the world so maybe I can find a way to be my best self even when it seems impossible. I kind of had a little crush on you when we first met but I bet you got that all the time #LOL.
Hey Richard how are things back in Canada, hope to see you back here at some point. It should be easy for you since your family gets good deals on flights.
To Garth and all his stories that I listened when sitting at mountain tattoo on many an evening. You have great stories and I hope you get back to the gym at some point.
So Alan you think after diving you will head to Thailand and give muay thai and a fight another go I hope you do because I remember you were so got the fire for it after awhile so keep it up man.
To Khembottra who taught us to meditate at the meeting house in Taipei, how goes your plans to take over the world. I want to make sure I am on your good side when all the shit goes down.
Hey Nestor how has your brother enjoyed Thailand and what are you up to these days. It was nice seeing you in Bali man and hope you get your Internet venture going soon.
To Ben the fighter who is now in Chiang Mai happy you are back in Thailand how goes it and when are you geting into the ring next.
To Sikkersoq my girl from Iceland how goes the writing? Or are you in the same boat as me which is stuck between the rock and the hardest of hard places.
So Tu my Austrailian friend when are you going to go back to Charn Chai and get into the ring. I know you want too.
So Eddie and Brooke how are the two of you making it out on the island life. I see your post often and I only wish I had your spirit.
There are so many people I can talk about who have made an impact however small or large.
To Matthew you were at the gym when I started and back when I left hope you get a chance to train some more now that your back is better. You know more than most what’s it like to be on the road constantly so to the adventure no matter where it leads.
There are so many people to thank, I wish I knew what I was going to do or who I was but I have a much better idea of that than I did before and it is becausse
To Christie man we never could meet up even though we were on Bali at the same time. Maybe next time.
To Kaew it was great seeing this Thai guy go on TV and fight the good fight at Max Muay Thai. He is one of the trainers I really miss.
To Kong who left Charn Chai Muay Thai more than a year ago to end up in Japan teaching the kiddies how to kick some ass I am glad that you have been able to experience more of the world.
To Jacqueline who gave me my first pair of muay thai shorts in exchange for pics. I hope you have a good time at songkran this year.
To Joy, happy birthday and hope all is well for your and your family and that business is better than ever. You are always so kind and everyone always knew your place had the best food in town.
To Clement I hope you got some good recipes this last time you went to Pai and to another Clement who had fought and was doing a worldwide tour of martial arts i hope one day I get to see whatever you create from that time.
To action man I mean Steve who is back in Pai, who has abs of steal if you have any tips for climbing Rinjani give them up I will need them.
Hey Jordan and Frances are we going to climb that volcano or what LOL. Congrats to the bride and you too Jordan I hope Amsterdam is treating you well and we get to catch up soon even though it hasn’t been that long ago.
This is what travel is not the places, sights, sounds or food although it is all that but the people both local and not that make it worth exploring. To the adventure. I guess I am writing this now just before I begin to nail everything down for the next phase.
I have never been a super social person, I’ve always kept to myself so I could keep my distance. Which is something that I need to change and everyone here and even more that I can mention here are the reason I keep on going as I seek to craft a story that will change my life and me it one worth the kindness shown to me so I can give it back the same way.
I give up my desire to be anything but me and to focus on what I know I must do not because it is easy but because it is what I am called to do. Thanks for moments drinking, fighting, training, meditation, did I mention drinking, laughter and relaxing.
I m going to focus on the story to and hope to return the kindness I have been shown by so many people at Charn Chai Muay Thai and across all my travels. This is what makes travel worth doing, all of you.
So I keep on going back to the world, I’ve done a ton of world building over the last year or two and what was just a concept has ballooned into a universe and it is killing me. I created a science fiction universe from who the science works, to the state of Earth in the future but I am stuck.
It is as if in becoming the creator of this world that exists in my head I lost the ability to tell the story or I would say find the story. Unlike most writers I didn’t start with the story and build out I built the world and have to find the story within it.
It is much harder to come up with the story after you’ve built the two, usually you would have the cbasic premise first and build the world in tandem with the story. I think doing it the other way is just harder because you are not as focused.
I guess because I am a gamer building the world and figuring out how it works was the rabbit I started to chase and I just couldn’t stop. So I already built a world now comes the challenge how to make it interesting enough for someone else besides me.
So I’ve decided to create characters that exist in the world and write a moment in their lives. Now I think for the most part these characters will exist in the present of near to where I have ended the timeline but not all of them.
I think I will write maybe a third of the chracters as people that existed in the universe prior to the start of the story if only to flesh out the world itself. So what I plan to write doesn’t have to be a epic or anything but a moment, a defining moment for that chracter.
There is a few reasons I want to do it this way, one is so I don’t have to have to know or invent their entire history. I just want a moment that matters, maybe it would be the first time being in a space ship or seeing the lights of the ships every evening but something that matters.
It can be traumatic, it can be joyous or maybe it was a word or an event that helped to shape who they are. Now I don’t necessarily think I am going to use all these characters but if I create them, then to me they exist.
They will not all be connected, some will not be connected at all but I hope this is a way I can get past my writer’s block and start filling my universe with voices. It will be hard to make them feel different. I may have to approach each one differently.
I think I may approach this as a way to test different approaches to character development, tone of voice and even basic structure. This way I can get to it with the pirmary focus on experimenting with style, substance and structure.
Because of how I started this process I feel like this is the best way for me to move forward. So my goal will be to each week write two chracters. I don’t know if I want to share what I write because I know no one will read it but maybe I will put up a little bit of it, if I think I need some advice or feedback on it on certian platforms like Wattpad just to get some feedback.
So here begins the real beginning. All the background information is the foundation now comes time to start filling it in.
Duty Free its a spending trap avoid at all costs
So how much do you spend where you are on vacation? For most people it is in well excess of what you spend outside of your normal daily life because its you damn vacation.
In North America where the average person gets 2 weeks a year it is where a lot of money is saved up for. So it is no surprise that budgeting takes a back seat when you are in vacation mode abroad.
When you are traveling for a few months or longer than that changes everything. It means doing all those cool things from paragliding to scuba diving are a cost benefit analysis.
Traveling on a budget according to trip advisor at least on where to sleep is about $30 USD a night although this is dependent on the countries and the exchange rate.
I’ve found that while apps are great to track spending it is your habits that will decide whether you can stick to a budget. In my almost 3 years of travel I’ve kept a running account of my daily spending.
By simply writing everything down I am more aware of what I spend and that can begin to change how you approach your journey and the costs.
I just keep travel of everything I spend, in the beginning I used a spreadsheet but that quickly vanished when my notebook computer was stolen (it was my stupid fault but that is another story involving me, a thai girl and beer pong).
Then I started keeping track of my spending the old fashion way by writing it down in a notebook. After a few months that got chaotic because over time it just begins to feel like scribbles, basically it was a mess.
So I found out that Google had something called Google Keep which was basic note taking app. It was simple, visual, allowed you to create lists and colour code notes.
I thought it was perfect for me, I had an Android smart phone so it was simple to use and it made it easier to scan through my spending. I don’t keep track of my spending beyond the day-to-day because it is basically about minimizing it.
Since I am traveling for an extended time I really don’t want to know how much I am spending overall but looking at it day-to-day I can see where I am spending and what I can cut out or reduce.
I don’t spend money on alcohol which saves me ton, I’ve gone from 3 meals a day to two, transport is mostly on foot or in Thailand I did it by bike and I focus my time on doing one thing (in Thailand it was muay thai) and only one thing.
Writing what you spend keeps you honest, by spending less day-to-day I’ve saved a lot and been able to cover expenses when emergencies arise without it having a huge impact on my monetary situation.
Getting an app with categories and that can do conversion would be great but in the end the FX rates change so often the longer I’ve traveled the less important it becomes.
Being frugal helps me to take the hit on the exchange and even though I can’t do all the cool things that a lot of travelers do, It means I can keep my journey up for months or even years longer than many others and until I can find my path, my way through the chaos that trumps all.
I don’t have a set amount I’ve put to spend daily mostly because it is about seeing how low I can get it. If I put a number to what I can spend I would keep under it but then I would get used to it.
Sometimes I spend nothing, other times I spend more but by being flexible I’ve been able to keep it well below the daily spending that trip advisor and not have rarely felt like I was missing out on anything in any significant way.
I know that is the only reason why I will be able to travel for years instead of months and that to me is worth the time and a relief to my wallet. This isn’t probably meant for those who can afford it but I’ve found that discipline and consistency are keys.
For me personally I would call them my superpower and ones I will exploit to their absolute limit because it means I can keep going awhile longer and that is worth the effort and the knowledge gained by just writing what I spend down every day.
We live in a world of noise where there is more stuff than ever be it content, media, tech, people, sports, choices, options and the list goes on and on.
As a writer I remember a post by Jeff Goins about art needing an audience. I guess it depends on what you are doing, I consider myself a writer but I guess I’ve always used my blog as more of a journey for an audience of one.
It is here not for anyone else but me and that has always been OK. It was my outlet for my frustrations, a way to release the fear and frustration so it limited it’s impact on me.
Now I have to move into a new chapter where I give my writing focus and meaning. As a person how much do I reveal about the writing that is closest to my heart and does it matter if this piece of fiction I seek to tell is read, do I need an audience or is putting it out there in whatever form it takes enough.
I know that I’ve evaded and dodged making the decision to have this story be my primary focus. I have no job, I don’t have the experience that others have but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.
Maybe I will have an audience of one but it always starts at that, what matters is growing that person into many. I will not write for everyone, I think primarily I have to write for myself, write a story that I would like to read.
That is where I need to begin, where I have to. You have to say who you but also understand that, it alone doesn’t define you. An audience is hard to cultivate because of the massive volume of stuff that is all around us wanting our attention.
No matter how much we can multitask we still have only 24 hours in a day, 365 (366 for 2016) in a year and time never stops. So the most valuable thing we have besides our lives is our time.
When you are a teenager it feels like you have all the time in the world, as you grow into adulthood you come to realize that you don’t and the ticking clock is both a blessing and a curse.
Now we have more things than ever wanting more of our time, it ways that just wasn’t possible 20 years ago. How can I get an audience, how do I be deserving of their time to read what I write when there is so much other stuff around all of us.
I guess that just means I have to earn it, by being vocal, not being shy about what I am trying to do. At some point I am going to have to invest in ways to go beyond having an audience of one and that’s assuming my work is good.
Maybe it will be but I expect as with any written work for me it will forever be a work in progress, malleable until I step back and not say its finished but say it’s good enough.
I have never written a book, I’ve written news but never scaled the mountain of novel-writing. A novel is what I consider a throwaway, something whose sole purpose is to take us out of our day-to-day and into another world.
I see lots of ebooks in the form of how to which are used to see someone’s courses or services as much as they help the people who read them.
I don’t have that kind of gravity for the universe that I’ve created in my head and on the page. So how am I going to make it matter and give it reason to be read so that I can get beyond an audience of one.
I want an audience, what writer doesn’t but what I know is I don’t need one to give the time spent on my story and world meaning. The act of writing it and releasing it with all the faults and errors that it will contain is enough.
The true proof my commitment is to take the feedback I get to evolve the concept and the story and to continue to grow the world.
I never had a sense of urgency with my story, with the concept but now that I have the time it will be what I focus on. I have an idea of how I want to get it out there, to serialize the story once I have the story beats mapped out.
But even before then I will start telling stories in the world, to just practice my craft and create the world I have been cultivating in secret for so long.
I want an audience but I don’t deserve an audience until I can put the time into cultivating it and earning their time and patience. That is the hope so while I don’t go into this with a need for my story to reach people I hope that if I give it everything if i am lucky and persistent I’ll be able to find one even if it’s just a small one.
Through focus, passion and just enough stubbornness to not listen to the critics I will give my world a chance to live outside my imagination and in give it a life of it’s own through those that give me the honour or reading it.
So that is the goal, that is summit and I have already starting preparing but not it is time to climb. I won’t look at the summit of this mountain just of what lay in front, a long way but a doable one, worth the time and effort for what it means to grow my ability and what it means to share a story I’ve poured everything I am into.