So it is true, at least empirically, that I write a lot more when I am travelling. Since leaving Hong Kong on 24 February, I have written and uploaded seven blogs. This is the eighth, or one in every two days. Not bad, considering that very often, I didn’t upload anything in four to six months when I was in Hong Kong. I am beginning to contemplate escaping somewhere for two months to complete the memoire project I started last year, but which got stuck for various reasons. The first question I ask myself is where I should park myself.
I have realized sometime ago that writing a book is rather different from writing blogs or what I have been calling them letters or articles. It looks like that the only commonality between them is that they won’t have too many readers. While in Whistler, a friend broadcast on social media that he had just completed a book with ten stories in 130,000 words, based on the era circa 1898 in China. He would have organized a book launch and autograph ceremony in his wife’s boutique hotel in Jordan had it not been for the present health scare. He promised to have it when things quietened down. This friend has published a few books before, mostly fiction, but somehow, I haven’t got round to any one of them. Maybe he hasn’t given me one free. I am cheap.
I have resigned to the inevitable that very few people would buy my memoire if it ever is published, but that is not a reason why I should not proceed with it. I published my first book 20 years ago – Letters from a Rotarian – a week after I stepped down as governor of the Rotary International District 3450, then comprising Hong Kong, Macao and Mongolia. It was a collection of the letters and official communiqués I had written to my Presidents in the two years I was governor elect and governor, at a time when Rosita had taken ill and was unable to join me in the many social functions that she was expected to, and which had prompted my writing career. The publishing work was a no brainer. It was simple ad straight forward, for all the articles were already on the internet, and the publisher’s job was one of editing and formatting which he completed in no time, so that the first print was out in two weeks. I had asked for 1,000 copies to be printed, wishfully thinking that each member in the District would take at least one copy for HK$100 which proceeds would go to The Rotary Foundation. I couldn’t remember how many Rotarians actually paid for the book – I gather no more than a dozen – and I ended up giving them to clubs for free whenever I was invited to speak at their regular meetings. Luckily, I only had 400 copies delivered, with the rest kept by the printer. Some years back, maybe five to eight years, my printer friend’s assistant called, telling me that the remaining stock was damaged during a typhoon which led to flooding. She asked whether I wanted a replacement print. I decided to save some trees, and thanked her; and that was the end of the story on my first book. For the record, I still have copies of the book in my mini warehouse in Tai Wo Hau, for anyone who would be interested to have one.
I have written a few times before in my blogs on writing; and the conclusion I had derived from professional writers was this. The primary reason why would-be writers were not motivated to write was because they were not poor enough, which was slightly different from what J K Rowling said. Rowling had said, or at least that is what I believe she had said, that authors write because they have a story to tell.
Back to Whistler, we are determined to have a good time, enjoying the snow under the sun if possible and skiing every day. Without the pressure of having to make to morning lessons, life is indeed rather pleasurable and almost stress free. We would sleep as much as we like and eat as much as we can. In between, we go skiing, weather permitting. I think I would have a chapter on skiing in my memoire being planned, with the title “The Reluctant Skier” which I think I had talked about some years back. I would trace my skiing career from 2012 when I had my first lessons on my favourite Magic Carpet to present day when I could ski with Su unassisted, and again almost stress free, as long as I know where I am going to.
Even as I was typing away, news from Hong Kong came about a dear friend passing away after a very short hospitalization – two days – this is not bad by traditional Chinese or Buddhist reckoning. He was a dear friend to many in our group, almost wearing a childlike and harmless smile and always considerate to others. He went to theology classes and lectures on the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, at the time I was taking classes in the Old Spirit Seminary; and we had some discussions, though not in depth. He would be sorely missed.
From afar, we keep track of news from and on Hong Kong and at the same time of news from other cities and regions. One thing is clear: whereas this corona virus knows no boundary, so does stupidity.