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.
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.