About Me

So, basically this blog was started by envy. Kulam Ikan Tetangga (the neighbor's fish pond) is a variation to the saying that goes "the neighbor's Grass is always greener". The Neighbor's Fish Pond will always have fatter and more fish (than your own fishpond). And so it is.

One Good Turn, Hopeful Am I

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"The name on the driving license in his wallet was Paul Bradley. 'Paul Bradley' was a nicely forgettable name. He was several degrees of separaion away from his real name now, a name that no longer felt as of it had ever belonged to him. When he wasn't working he often (but not alway) went by the name 'Ray'. Nice and simple. Ray of light, Ray of darkness, Ray of sunshine, Ray of night. He liked slipping between identities, sliding through the cracjs. The rental Peugeot he was driving felt just right, not a flashy macho machine but the kind of car an ordinary guy would drive. An ordinary guy like Paul Bradley. If anyone asked him what he did, what Paul Bradley did, he would say, 'Boring stuff. I'm just a desk jockey, pushing papers around in an accounts department.' " -- One Good Turn, Kate Atkinson, p. 18.

I don't know about you but to me this paragraph is very much cliche. My head swam as I read paragraphs of the prologue chapter titled Tuesday of this book. Kate Atkinson nearly lost me; a non-dedicated, easily distracted and weary reader who nicked this novel from a visiting friend. But there's something that kept me reading and I was more curious to the why I kept reading and I reached the second chapter, explaining the protagonist, Martin Canning, a boring English who has a double life as Alex Blake, a crime-detective novelist.


The whole second chapter is building the protagonist believability, and it struck the familiars when it describes on how Martin got to be a writer in the first place. Dorothy the writing instructor.

"... The class met in a village hall and was run by a woman called Dorothy who drove from Kendal and whose qualifications to teach the class were unclear. She'd had a couple of stories published in a northern arts magazine, readings and workshops (work in progress) and an unsuccessful play performed at the Edinburgh Fringe about the women in Milton's life (Milton's Women). ... One day, he thought, as Dorothy rattled on about form and content and the necessity of 'finding your own voice', one day he would go back to Edinburgh and live there. 'And read!' she exclaimed, opening her arms wide so that her voluminous velvet cloak spread out like bat wings, 'Read everything that has ever been written.' There were some mutinous murmurs from the class--they had come to learn how to write (or at least some of them had), not to read." --One Good Turn, Kate Atkinson, p. 33.

"The WI women wrote sentimental pieces about visiting old people and children in hospital. 'Charming,' Dorothy said. The gruff man described in gory detail an operation to remove his appendix. 'Vibrant,' Dorothy said." -- p. 35
"Later, over an expensive dinner in a hotel overlooking the Lake Windermere, which Martin reckoned they both deserved for having survived more than just the course, she toasted him in a nice steely Chablis and said, 'You know, Martin, you're the only one in the class who can put one word in front of another and not make me want to fucking puke, excuse my split infinitive. You should be a writer.' " --p. 38

And this immediately sold me. I actually could not wait to proceed to chapter 3, but I have to write this down first, because otherwise it would be lost in the quagmire of unreasonable mess that is my head, per usual.

The reason for this--the writing down part, not the quagmire--is the series of events where the same idea kept popping up in my head. More than once I was busy washing diapers, for example, or other mundane house chores, and some annoying little voice vaguely echoing my deepest worry on forgetting what I came to Jogja for. What I came to Jogja for was definitely not family life.

Another annoying little voice also cried an accusation that I had forgotten myself. Me. I write. Yes. I stopped writing for far too long. It's making me restless.

I spent countless minutes wondering why I stopped writing. Procrastination, obviously. But there's another reason underneath that. I think it's fear. I am easily scared right now. It's disabilitating.

Another event was a post card from a dear old friend. The post card was neatly written in small roundish longhand, quite a lengthy description on what had happened since we last met several years a go. The last sentence in the post card came down like a heavy lead in my stomach and in my head. I was thinking, I should be crying, I feel like crying. But I didn't.

I was once Dorothy, minus the voluminous cloak. I think I should be Martin before I turn 40.

I should start with the long impended 750 words a day. This is 800-is words worth. I cheated. But we have to start somewhere.

I shall finish reading the One Good Turn.

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