Picture credit: Flickr/ United Nations Photo
When I moved to Asia in 2007, I was still tied under the wheels of the Machine, back home. Everything I was doing, experiencing, and trying to translate into a piece of writing, or any other form of “artistic text”, I did so with the wish that someone, back home, would recognize my efforts and get me that publishing deal I had wished for so much in virtue of my brave choice of moving abroad.
Reality is often different from our dreams. Especially when coming from a culturally under developing nation such as Italy, where trying to be an “artist” is guaranteed to put a very sorry expression across any parental face. Back then, it was with a sense of scorn that I looked at all the rejections, the nos and the maybes, as it dawned on me that, wherever I may have roamed, I was destined to be a total failure.
Still, I put together a blog, I chose the best pieces out of it and edited them for good and self-published an Italian written book on my life as a teacher in small town China. I cannot say it was successful, as it was not. It was just barely ok not to hang the keyboard to the wall, and start playing badminton instead.
It was at that point that I travelled, and travelled, and travelled deeper and wider all across East Asia. When I finally stopped again, as Hank Williams put it “No more darkness, no more night. Now I’m so happy, no sorrow in sight. Praise the Lord, I saw the light …”
Facing the most sacred Buddha statue in the Lama temple of Beijing, China, I bowed down and I expressed my wish. Maybe I was thinking that through such a foreign surrogate I would have reached my own, white-faced version of God. Well, I was wrong. Those Asian ears were indeed openly listening to my call. Slowly – as good things do not happen overnight -, I found out that I had overlooked what was happening around me. Exactly in the place I was living THEN. Developing countries have plenty of opportunities. Otherwise, they would not be called as such, I guess?
Asian publishers are not much different from Western ones, but possibly, they accept submission, and you do not need an agent, or spend too much money on it. It is still a tough process, but at least you will get rejection letters. Sometimes even explaining what is wrong with your stuff. The hard work is still there, the results are, however, greatest in the East. In a single hard working year, I have published more than I ever did in the past 5 or 6, kicked off the road by frustration, rejection, and let me tell it, a great dose of assholism.
My suggestion to all the wannabe writers (and another cite to one of the best movies of all times): when there is no more room in hell, look around wherever you are, and start pitching left and right. Then, your articles and stories will walk the earth.
MARCO FERRARESE explored 50 countries and lives in Penang, Malaysia since 2009. He is currently a PhD candidate at Monash University’s Sunway Campus, Kuala Lumpur, researching the anthropology of punk rock and heavy metal in Southeast Asia. Besides his academic endeavors, he blogs about overland Asian travel and extreme music in Asia at www.monkeyrockworld.com