from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Entry #1: New Blog and Vonnegut Afterword

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It’s been 1,030 days since my last blog entry on an undisclosed domain. May 5th, 2007. I’m starting this new blog not because I feel particularly inclined to, but because I hope to get published sometime this year and discovered that agents and publishers expect writers to generate their own publicity. My last blog had an astonishing readership of about 5 friends and family members, so I’m hoping this time around, I’ll be more succcessful. It shouldn’t be very difficult.

I’ve had a bit of insomnia lately. I get it quite frequently and I think it’s because of late nights drinking during my vacations—I get frequent vacations at my day job. The last text message a friend sent to me before she went to sleep was that my writing reminded her of Kurt Vonnegut. I was honored because it was an excessive and unwarranted compliment and those are the best kind. At this point in my life, I’m tired of the bold-faced truth. It usually isn’t very pretty.

Riding on a tide of inspiration, I started to write the unfinished afterword of my book when I realized that I probably couldn’t publish what I just wrote and thought that today would be a good day to start a blog to post all the lame attempts at writing that I’m not too ashamed of but will probably not get published. Maybe it’s just the beer and wine talking.

So here it is. The back-end of my afterword, first draft.

A tip of my cap to Kurt Vonnegut, whom Beatrix has most graciously compared me to. He could start a book with a story about writing a book. I doubt I can get away with ending a book with one.

I burned all my bridges after the army, save two: Ken and Jungsoo. I like to keep my friends close and my enemies as far away as possible. Out of sight, out of mind.

I’m not a good friend. Friendship is a foreign concept to me, and calling someone else first is not something I learned when I was young. But this book gave me the opportunity to call them up to fill in the gaps in my journals, gaps due to communication security. Communication security is a military concept where soldiers are supposed to censor themselves so as not to endanger their mission or their comrades. Communication security for me was to write very ambiguous entries in my journals to protect myself in the event someone decided to “big brother” me again, something I learned in basic.

Unfortunately, my army friends have fewer memories than I, having stowed that part of their lives in deep, hidden places in their souls. I am reluctant to ask; I have to relive these memories to put them on paper. They relive those memories because they are my friends and I asked. I guess I’m still an asshole, something I learned in the army as well.

After I got an almost completely worthless Master’s degree—if degrees were given out according to what you spent the majority of your time on, it’d be a double degree in alcoholism and Minesweeper—and I had a majority of the first draft for this book written, I started to tell people that I was working on a book. I didn’t do it earlier because this is actually more like the tenth draft over a span of six years and I didn’t want to be the guy that is eternally writing a book and becomes the butt of stories told when my acquaintances are old and gray. “Remember Holden and how he went around saying that he was going to write that book? What ever happened to that guy?”

But now that I’ve graduated, saying that I’m working on a book is easier than saying that I’m looking for a job. They think I’m full of bullshit, but at least they leave it at that.

Those that do believe me are perpetually asking me to put them in this book, to which I reply, “We’ll see.” But what I really mean is: “My memory may be shitty, but I don’t remember seeing you in the hellhole that is the army.” The only two people I talk to who can claim that are already in it.

My friend, Hole—who has never asked to be put in my book and so he is in this random attempt—often expresses a sentiment which was originally my own, that he plans to live only until 35, and I let him, because I’m not much of a talker and don’t have many to talk to anyway. If I can make it to 35, four years from now, with no debt and at least one copy of this book published and sold to someone who is not my friend, I can die a happy man.

Of course, that is not how I picture my future. I have grand delusions of me having a heartfelt, eloquent conversation with Oprah on her show in front of a live, television audience of housewives, followed by an announcement that she has chosen to put my book on her book list, eventually making me millions. I’d like to also be on the New York Times bestseller list, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Then I’ll travel the world, posing as the bestselling author I am, pretending to write the novel I dream of writing, but never actually doing any writing. Just posing at some random roadside café in a scenic stone-cobbled village—any village will do, just so long as there is heavy tourist traffic—so that passersby can whisper to each other, “Was that Holden Beck, the famous writer?” What I’ll really be doing is nursing a fantastic hangover—I forgot to mention that I’ll be wearing sunglasses, something I have never been able to get away with—and hoping that another story will fall into my lap so that I can put off writing my novel again and make enough money to buy a small island in the Pacific where I can walk around half-naked and lie around all day. There’ll be a McDonald’s and a library. Some of the natives from the neighboring islands will be able to make good money working at my McDonald’s and library and my friends and family can join me if they are willing to live on a secluded island with only a McDonald’s and a library.

I drink and smoke a lot these days. I think that is part of the reason why I don’t think I’ll live much longer. I also ride my motorcycle rather recklessly, but I’m too much of a coward to die in a motorcycle accident, I think. They have Costco in Korea and my last receipt was 90 percent liquor and 10 percent ramen. If only they sold cigarettes. I picked up drinking—heavily, at least—in the months before the army and smoking after the aforementioned bad break-up (it’s not mentioned in this entry), and continue out of habit because, although it’s completely groundless, I have a picture in my mind of successful writers as colossal drunks and chain smokers and I want to join their ranks, if not in terms of literary talent, then at least in terms of alcohol consumption and congested lungs.

I didn’t finish it because it started getting weird. The odds are that when I wake up, I’ll probably delete this entire entry, but since I haven’t told anyone about this blog, it can probably wait for a few more months.

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Written by Young

March 2, 2010 at 5:30 pm

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