Friday, 18 February 2011

'Thailand as a Writer's Paradise' by Paul Garrigan

I’ve met a lot of writers over the years while living here in Thailand. Most expats I encounter are at least planning to write a book. You could say this about people in most places of course; when I visit Ireland I meet plenty of folk who intend to write a novel one day. The difference is that in Thailand a larger percentage of these frustrated writers will actually make it happen. A lot of these books will never be read by anyone other than family and friends, but to actually finish such a project is quite an achievement – at least I think so anyway.

Why Thailand?

So what is it that attracts so many writers to Thailand? I like to think that it is because most expats are adventurers who don’t just dream about doing something – they do it. Moving to a foreign country is not something that everyone can cope with, and it takes a certain type of metal attitude to survive outside your comfort zone. Going abroad on holiday can be challenging, but moving there long term is a completely different kettle of fish. Of course my romantic idea about the expat could equally apply to every other country where expats go to live. What is it about Thailand in particular that seems to attract writers? While the male expat in Thailand might get tarnished with stereotype of only being there for the sex (the so called ‘sexpat’) the thing that really separates them from other expats is that they usually given up so much to live here. Your average expat in other countries will be going there because of the potential to make a better salary, but most expats in Thailand will look forward to a huge drop in earnings. In my own case during the years I worked as a teacher I only made a sixth of the salary that I could make working as a nurse in Ireland – my old profession. I think the fact that the expat in Thailand is willing to give up so much to live there differentiates them from other expats around the world. Of course you might be able to say the same about expats in some South American countries but I’m really not qualified to talk about this. In Thailand though, a lot of the expats are people who are willing to give up a lot to follow their dreams. It is this that I think accounts for why so many of them are writers – and not just aspiring writers. They tend to be individuals who are prepared to risk a lot in their search for contentment.

Thailand is a Great Place to be a Writer

I’ve found that Thailand is a great place to be a writer. The local culture is inspiring and forces most of us expats to challenge our old ideas about the world. Perhaps it is this wearing down of our past conditioning that gives us something interesting to say. Living in a place like Thailand can also be a constant challenge in other ways as well; many foreigners end up writing just to express their frustrations. I tend to see every corner of the world as a source for inspiration for writers, but Thailand seems to be particularly good for this.


eric said...

paul , you are may be right when you explained that some of us are writings to exprim their fustrations , but anyway , i think settle down in another part of this world such both america south and north ,or europ are more easier for one great and huge reason , you can chat to anybody with ease , and it's more closer than us , religion manner to live, art ehibitions , movies , musics all this little things that make you feel alive .... education school and you kwon what i mean , you taught as me in thailand . i think living in south asia involve to do something for exemple to writing a book because this damn barrier of language , so difficult learn and talk with ease , and mostly time people seem lonely and far away from their friend or family . looking forward to read from you , have a good time paul

Des Greene said...

The writer's paradise, if such can exist, is where the writer actually writes.

Geography takes minor place to freedom and proper state of mind. In fact new surroundings can act as distraction rather than inspiration.

I spend a lot of time in Turkey but find that I write best in the isolation of the wild Irish coast. But then - horses for courses I guess..

Des Greene said...

I find the concept of a "writer's paradise" somewhat strange.

There is no paradise least of all that of the writer.

At best we write when we can, wherever we can.

The lack of authenticity of the expat life is an infertile ground for literary creativiity.

Grant Walton said...

Hey there, thanks for your post. I was wondering if there were any places that you thought are particularly good for writing in Thailand. I am planning to make a month-long trip to thailand with the express purpose of writing my PhD. I was hoping to find somewhere where I could write undisturbed in the morning and swim in the afternoon. Any suggestions?


Romantic Florida Getaway said...

I always thought that any good and calm coffee shop can qualify as a writer's paradise: mostly because I never had the luxury of visiting, let alone moving to, other countries. I guess there are certain places that make us write particularly better and maybe in many cases that is a foreign country. I hope I can try testing this for myself. Thank you for sharing this.